Rekha Agrawal is the vice president and general manager of Fire Suppression Products at Johnson Controls, a company dedicated to making buildings safer, more comfortable, and more sustainable. In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Agrawal shares some insight as to how the business has responded to the pandemic and offers her view on what the future holds for businesses across the UK.
For Agrawal and for the Johnson Controls entity, the principal focus during the crisis has been on the health and well-being of employees and being able to maintain a high level of service to its clients.
Agrawal said: “The major focuses of the business during Covid-19 have been primarily our employees’ health and well-being, serving our customers, and being able to maintain a level of service across all sectors given the essential nature of fire protection products.”
“This has been achieved through adapting to the changing work environment, with people able to work from home effectively and efficiently as well as ensuring our teams in manufacturing and logistics facilities have the right processes and protocols to feel and remain safe on site, while our sales teams adopt digital solutions to remain as close and connected as always to the customer.”
In the future, as businesses begin to reopen and the UK and wider world moves out of lockdown, Agrawal anticipates that the business will be even better positioned to serve customer needs in the ‘new normal’.
“Our business has exposure to a variety of different markets, including oil and gas, restaurants, commercial construction and others. As business resumes operation and people feel confident that they can recommence commercial activity, we would expect that the business will have different challenges but we will continue to partner with them through these, given the importance of fire protection products to health and safety.”
However, the period has not come without requiring the Fire Suppression Products business to adapt to a changing environment, as Agrawal elaborates.
Agrawal explained: “As with any challenging time, we have adapted processes and implemented a flexible approach and new ways of working that we will continue into the future.”
“We expect there will be a new normal arising from this situation, such as the power of using digital technology to connect with our customers and colleagues.”
The key to being able to adapt, in Agrawal’s view, boils down to agility, pragmatism, and flexibility, adding that businesses all over the country will need to adopt this approach in order to survive in the new post-pandemic world.
“The key here is in agility, that is to say being pragmatic and flexible to support your own business needs, whilst recognising your customer’s challenges, and proactively working together and helping each other through these difficult times.”
The UK government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis has been the subject of much debate in recent weeks, yet from a business perspective, Agrawal feels that guidance has been well-received and well understood, with the government’s business support measures lending a significant and much needed boost to the economy.
Agrawal said: “During this time, we are guided by all the advice coming from the government, understanding that every country we operate in has a different approach which is driven by their individual circumstances.”