Keeping up with the CEOs amid Covid-19: Andrew Holden

Altron’s group chief operations officer finds working from home with a full house ‘different’.
Altron’s Andrew Holden says patience and empathy for others in the household is necessary to avoid dissension. Image: Supplied

Many companies have had to change their business operations during the lockdown period. We caught up with several CEOs to find out how they’re holding up, and whether or not it’s ‘business as usual’. Here’s what Altron Chief Operations Officer Andrew Holden said:

Where are you working from?

Altron had started practising social distancing before President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the lockdown. As a technology company, we have had systems in place to enable staff to work from home for quite some time. We also decided, before the lockdown, that it would be better for non-essential staff to work from home.

How are you conducting your meetings?

All our meetings are being conducted online. Altron is a Microsoft-centric organisation and therefore most of our meetings are conducted via Microsoft Teams. All team members initially keep their video on – this is to ensure there is still some social connection to our colleagues. Thereafter video can be switched off to preserve bandwidth. All members are asked to keep their microphones muted to avoid background noise. It is important for the meeting organiser to ensure participation from each member by asking for comment.

How are you finding working away from your usual designated workstation?

While technology certainly assists with the ability to work from home, your home is a totally different environment, with partners, children, parents and pets all busy with their own activities. These often clash and can cause dissension. It is important for each member of the household to be able to carry on with their normal lives. This means that each of us needs to exercise patience and empathy to those around us.

Is the lockdown causing a huge disruption in your business’s usual operations?

The coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has certainly created disruption and there is no doubt that this pandemic will have a lasting effect on our people and our economy. After the announcement of the lockdown, we introduced guidelines within Altron to ensure that our operations supporting the essential services continued to run smoothly. We encouraged most of our employees to work from home prior to the lockdown, and ensured that they were well equipped to perform their tasks remotely.

Now that we are in the lockdown, we have ensured that employees who continue to work are doing so in a conducive environment and have the right support, including personal protection equipment.

We have also highlighted the benefits of using services provided by our wellbeing partner ICAS so that the mental health challenges that come as a result of this pandemic and different ways of working are addressed. It’s important for our employees at work or at home to know that help is within reach if they need someone to talk to. We are staying close to our customers ensuring that we provide the best possible service during this time.

Does your company need to transform to keep up with changing times, and if so, how?

We think we are ahead of the curve when it comes to technology solutions such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, security and data analytics. As we implement cloud-based solutions for many of our clients, we are also using these internally ourselves.

We think the measures taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus will speed up the practice of remote working. This, in turn, will accelerate cloud migration and adoption of the latest cybersecurity solutions, as customers seek to safeguard their data and privacy.

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