Virtual home-working has been a learning curve for many agricultural employees, so what lessons can be learned from the journey so far? Danusia Osiowy speaks to three young professionals who have adapted to new working days.
The immediate post-lockdown challenge has primarily been about minimising the impact of the pandemic on our farmers; making sure they are supported financially, as well as having as much information as possible to help them through the crisis.
I am usually on the road a lot meeting with farmers and seeing our suppliers face-to-face and I have definitely missed that.
I have been fortunate to be in lockdown on a dairy farm, so I have never been too far from a cow, and Zoom has allowed me to keep in regular dialogue with farmers, suppliers and colleagues.
I have definitely become more astute at work electronically, which sounds like a really lame skill for someone who is only 24.
I think a lot of businesses, including ours, will question how and where people work in the long-term.
Our business has coped and adapted amazingly well at all stages of the supply chain throughout the pandemic.
Whether it be having thousands of colleagues working from home, record amounts of food going through our distribution network or our store colleagues managing with social distancing in stores.
Everyone has knuckled down and got the job done.
The way in which people shop for and buy food continues to change every week.
Frequency of shop visits have fallen and basket sizes are up substantially, yet convenience and online continue to be the winners at the moment, with many customers wanting to avoid large supermarkets.
I have been particularly impressed by how our farmers have adapted to virtual farmer meetings.
I never thought presenting to up to 40 farmers at a time via Zoom would have been something I would do during 2020, but it has been.
In fact, these meetings have not just been a nice-to-have, but have instead been vital in enabling us to communicate with them on issues such as business resilience, people/staff management, commodity and feed prices, financial planning, the list goes on.
Farmers are now requesting these regular updates and advice sessions happen every six weeks.
Surely all this will remind people that regardless of global pandemics or otherwise, the food industry will always be there, and that it offers not just job security, but some really interesting and exciting careers.
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