The coronavirus pandemic has posed an unprecedented challenge to small and medium-sized businesses in our town. So how are they responding to keep the livelihoods and that of their staff alive and to recover and thrive again?
Here one Birchwood Park resident describes the changes they have made because of Covid-19.
First set up in 1990, Twinfix is a family-owned glazing and canopy manufacturer based at Birchwood Park. The business introduced new practices during lock-down to enable its employees to take greater control of their own workflow. Technical director Dan Smith says that he benefited from a digital technology adoption pilot scheme for companies in the north west, the Made Smarter Leadership Programme – which has continued to deliver its courses online over recent months.
He added: “SMEs tend to operate in an isolated bubble, and as a leader you can often feel like you have no one to turn to.”
“The fantastic thing about the leadership programme was that it forged an impressive bond of trust between the cohort early on, which meant I felt I could talk about the company and our challenges openly.
“I believe that during the crisis we stayed in touch more than I suspected we would, talking about the challenges and sharing ideas about how to navigate it.”
Donna Edwards – programme director of Made Smarter, which is delivered by Lancaster University’s Management School – believes that there is a ‘rallying call not to return to the old ways. She added: “From the start of the pandemic, Made Smarter has been in regular contact with leaders across the region offering support and advice.
“Our conversations revealed some striking changes in the traditional norms, attitudes and behaviours that guide leaders.
“They have demonstrated agility and adapted to an unprecedented and emerging situation to ensure people and companies have remained functional.
“New flexible approaches have helped individuals and teams cope with the intense challenges to their daily and working lives.
“In many cases, they have used this experience to change long-standing practices and find better ways of doing things.
“At the heart of this need for change is technology, which has proved invaluable in allowing manufacturers to work remotely to maintain operations and communications and prompted SMEs to accelerate and broaden their adoption of digital tools.”