Corona – is it nevertheless an opportunity?
New year, new beginnings – that is what many of us thought when 2019 turned into 2020. In December 2019, the SARS-CoV-2 activated in China’s Wuhan was far away from Finland, and we could not in our wildest dreams have guessed how much this unknown virus would affect the world economy. The effects have been massive: countries closed their borders, traveling stopped abruptly, meetings were restricted, schools and daycare centers were practically closed, and the elderly were assigned to a voluntary home quarantine. In many companies, including Wipak, the ways of working changed.
The world has certainly changed, and we at Wipak have changed along with it. Our industry and plastic as a material were transformed from villains into heroes overnight. The packaged food and groceries sold in stores were considered as safe, and their sales soared. We have also seen increase in demand in some of Wipak Health’s business packaging. We have been able to act as a reliable partner to our customers and have been given a chance to innovate even something new. We have not previously produced face visors nor protective outfits, but we managed to do even this when need arose!
One of the backbones of Wipak’s strategy, Safety First, has been at the center of our activities also during the COVID-19 crisis.
Our primary objective has been to secure a safe working environment for our employees in production, logistics, and other functions where working remotely has not been possible. We have succeeded well in this. The contacts between employees have been minimized, we are heavily focusing on hygiene, and we keep a safe distance from each other to the extent that is possible.
Office employees in all Wipak sites work, as a rule, remotely, either full-time or part-time, and this has been a new experience and opportunity for many of us. Based on the survey aimed at those working remotely, remote work has been mainly a positive experience. The biggest struggles arising from long-lasting remote work are related to the internet connections at the home office and work ergonomics. We have aimed to improve the ergonomics by giving an opportunity for our employees to use at home their office tools, such as a chair, a display, and a keyboard. The update on our IT environment has enabled us to have video meetings, and seeing a colleague, even if it is only on a screen, has felt really nice. We have also created new practices. Several teams have had virtual morning coffee breaks, the staff at Wipak UK has been organizing a virtual morning quiz, and the staff at Wipak Gryspeert has celebrated coworkers’ birthdays.
Traveling, which used to be a norm for many, came to a complete halt due to the pandemic. This new situation has given us time to think about whether all traveling is necessary and how we are going to meet our customers in the future. In the post-Corona world, traveling will most likely reduce significantly. Future will require new skills from us, and we want to respond also to this challenge. We are now planning a training “How to sell by using virtual tools” for our sales employees – and, as you might guess, the training will be virtual!
Tough times are the ultimate test for the solidarity and fellowship between the employees, and in this test Wipak is a clear winner.
At an early stage of the crisis, our European units were able to provide face masks to China, and when things turned around, our Chinese unit was able to help our European sites by supplying face masks to Europe. And this is only one story – there are so many other stories to tell. Wipak employees in all our sites as well as in home offices have really gone the extra mile in order to ensure that our manufacturing units continue their operations without any interruptions.
COVID-19 is a serious disease, and it has caused and will for a long time continue to cause a lot of human suffering across the globe. We see that this pandemic will change the world and within this change, in the future “new normal”, we see also a lot of opportunities that we aim to utilize nimbly.
Stay healthy 💚
Paulina Rannikko, General Counsel and Head HR Wipak Group