Forestals sets standard for working from home


Breakfast meetings, remote working and special rosters are just some of the successful measures The Forestals Group introduced to keep business as usual during the Covid19 lockdown.

Getting into the office, saying hi to fellow employees over a coffee was one of the routines that staff at Forestals Professional enjoyed. And who was to say that lockdown measures would prevent this friendly start to the day?

“Although I wasn’t physically in the office, I would still get to enjoy a coffee with my colleagues online, without having to get stuck in traffic,” muses John Farrugia Randon, Head of Commercial Sales. The company prides itself in having adopted measures in a timely and employee-friendly manner as soon as lockdown hit Malta.

The company was fortunate in that they already had their business set up online and could continue sales digitally. As for their employees they were quick to assess the situation and adapt their working conditions according to the needs of their employees.

Firstly, those with children were allowed to work from home. A roster was introduced for other employees whereby they would work a two-day week in the office and the rest from home.

The company also realised the importance of maintaining healthy communication among employees. “You only realise what you have when you don’t have it anymore,” comments Mr Farrugia Randon when he speaks about not being able to pop into the office of a fellow colleague for a quick chat or to just check up on something. Yet being able to video chat with the colleague you wanted to follow up on about sales, or really just to exchange a few words with someone who is in the same situation as you “really helped keep up morale”.

The breakfast meetings held for the Forestals Professional team of six managers was a hit. Set at around 08:15 and lasting for something only around 20 minutes, the morning chat helped the team keep in sync with one another as well as set the day. Other meetings were held on a weekly basis with other employees to set goals, agenda and to generally help everyone keep up to scratch and in touch.

A breakthrough in the communication was to use the company’s own products: the Promethean Interactive Panels. The interactive displays and screens are most commonly used in the education field but the team took advantage of them and used them as a convenient way of communicating with colleagues. Whether it was a sales strategy, a walkthrough of a new product or a proposal for a marketing plan, employees from different sectors found it easy to set up the interactive panels, prepare their presentation and digitally share it with their colleagues.

“The interactive panels were really easy to use and I found they really helped me in getting my message across,” explains Kurt Oswald, Technical Sales Specialist. “Sometimes it is difficult to explain something to a large group of people, even if they are right in front of you. But with an interactive panel I could use the images, videos and so on according to what I wanted to get across,” he continues.

Those on the receiving end were also impressed. “Rather than just listening to someone talking I could follow a visual explanation, which not only helped me understand and follow better, but it certainly held my attention longer,” comments another colleague.

Hygiene and good health remain a priority at the offices and hand sanitizers as well as thermometers are strategically in place. All sales and reception staff wear masks or shields and all couriers have sanitizer in their vans. Staff are also guided on keeping a 2-metre distance between one another and even during breaks, the number of people per table is kept to a safe low.

As much as possible, staff are advised to avoid using lifts, and when they do, they avoid there being more than two people at a time. Regardless of the destination or duration, any staff returning from travel must self-quarantine for 7 days. And, needless to say, those with the slightest signs of feeling unwell must stay home and advise HR accordingly.

Having to adapt and adjust was not easy for anyone and colleagues were honest about feeling the hit. Yet the fact that colleagues came together and made it a point to invest in communication certainly helped Forestals continue to thrive through a trying time.