COVID-19: maintaining a sense of purpose and connection at work
COVID-19: maintaining a sense of purpose and connection at work

In times of crisis, it is very important to maintain a sense of purpose and connection, explains Thomas Couaillet, Managing Director of Nutriset, which has been running a crisis unit since March for the Nutriset Group.

Questions to Thomas Couaillet, Managing Director of Nutriset

How has the Group organised itself since the beginning of the crisis?

On our site in Malaunay (Normandy, France), as soon as the containment was announced we launched a plan to rollout teleworking for nearly half of the employees and a business continuity plan focused on activities surrounding our production unit.

" For this, we had to increase precautionary measures to achieve two goals: working effectively and ensuring everyone's safety. "

As many companies did, we had to adapt very quickly to this new situation. In a record time, we developed digital tools to streamline internal communication: we created a dedicated intranet site, we published documents supporting prevention measures and guidelines to be respected...

How did this set up evolve over time?

We learn every day. Organizing teleworking of half of our employees overnight was a first. Everyone had to find their place and rhythm according to their family environment and their professional tasks. Aside from work matters, it was necessary to stay connected with each other and regain a form of conviviality that the lockdown undermined. We created a "virtual coffee machine space" online to encourage informal discussions between colleagues. Sports or yoga instructors who usually intervene on site could deliver their classes online. Updates were sent by email to everyone on a regular basis.

" The lesson is that in times of crisis, it is essential to maintain a sense of purpose, of meaning and social connections. "

What thoughts can be drawn from this crisis for the future?

There are probably two areas of activity on which our Group, like many companies, will be led to reflect upon. The first is about how we relate to work. New forms of agility have emerged from this lockdown situation. Scaling up teleworking, for example, has forced us to seek new digital modes of operating for our information exchanges, our meetings, our decision-making.

" We have been able to experience the flexibility, the user friendliness of these tools, but at the same time we have all perceived their limits, notably the loss of spaces for informal talks, that every company has and where information flows, and decisions are accelerated. "

We will therefore have to take stock, when we have returned to a more conventional situation, on how we can transform the constraints we have experienced into opportunities to improve the way we operate.

Similarly, we are an international group. And therefore, in times when international flights and borders are being questioned, how can we maintain our mission and service to our PlumpyField partners in their respective countries? We must be imaginative, too. Videoconferences are great, but are no substitute for direct interaction. It is time to demonstrate, together, our innovation skills!  

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