So the start to 2020 was an unprecedented time for everyone on planet earth. From a Rockfield perspective and for the rest of the world it started with news coming in of a virus which started in Wuhan, China. Wuhan University actually licence the Elfen software suite so this came with added interest. From a CEO dynamic, I watched with intrigue and concern as the numbers kept creeping up to levels unseen before since the Spanish Flu in 1918. As the movements of traffic and people continued around the world it was only a matter of time before it moved ever closer to Europe and ultimately the United Kingdom.
A month went by and we moved into late February with cases in Italy, Austria, Switzerland growing rapidly. With friends and colleagues in those countries enjoying some well-earned R&R, CV-19 made a giant step closer to Rockfield HQ.
We were ahead of the game in relation to the UK government and spent from the end of February through to the first week in March trialing remote working with individuals to start, then in working departments and then finally multiple departments all at the same time.
On March 12th we made the bold move to close the office with all staff to move into a pre-lockdown phase over a week ahead of the UK government which with hindsight was the right thing to do. As cases increased within local areas of which we all take for granted, e.g. exercising, socialising and shopping, we had a feeling that this was here to stay for a while. The IT guys bent over backwards to support the continuous teething problems that still crop up with moving the entire office to Remote Working (RW), working both late into the evenings and weekends, trying to support the various niggles that the majority of staff in Rockfield had, including myself.
This also coincided with a drop in the oil price with people remote working in every organisation we work with, which made things grind to an almost snail pace in the releasing of contracts. We made the difficult decision to furlough staff, put a hold on all non-essential developments and focus on product releases of both Elfen wellbore 1.7 and Elfen Glass Design 3D along with some bug fixing of the Elfen code.
So after 6 months from the start of CV-19 restrictions in the UK and 9 months after this all really began back in Wuhan, our respected customers and users of our software package Elfen in China are returning to work, albeit in small groups to start with and ever hopeful of no further increases in the second-wave that is often talked about.
In line with virtually every other company we work with especially in the Oil & Gas sector we have made a small number of changes in staffing, but we as a board of Directors feel that we have now streamlined Rockfield to become more agile in being able to respond to market fluctuations in the future. We also haven’t returned to the office apart from 3 of the Directors who regularly attend.
I think the RW was great for a while and for a little time one almost felt free of the bind of the office, but I did get a little fed up of spending 4 hours a day on zoom calls plugged into headphones when it is a human need and desire to communicate with people face to face!
We will come back eventually, probably not until after Christmas and certainly not until the rumour of a second wave has died out or it’s been and gone, or the preferred option is it never shows.
Rockfield is in a healthy position right now, we have weathered probably the worst storm of all in modern times economically and for man-kind. We have the support of our clients who have been with us for many many years and for that we are eternally grateful. We have had excellent support from all the staff who have continued to work through all of this and not taking holidays to keep the pedal to the metal (as they say), along with all those staff who have been furloughed who have anxiously waited for “the call to arms” and get back to helping this company continue to flourish.
We have a new website along with a number of new products to come out of the extended lock-down period and RW which just shows the effort that has been put into this period of time. Without everyone pulling together we may never have survived and that involves clients both old and new, staff who have been furloughed or not and everyone at home that has had to put up with the occasional frustrations of juggling family and work all in the same house.
I would like to be able to take this opportunity to say “Thank you” to clients and staff. The journey has been torturous but you have helped to calm the waters and enable us to sail on through, albeit a little battered and bruised, but still doing what comes naturally to us all….. to survive.