Strix Ltd| Covid 19 Blog Series | July 2020

Date: Monday 20 July 2020

Strix Ltd and how we lived and breathed “Safer by design” during lockdown and beyond

This week, newly relocated Strix Ltd Group HR Director, Emma Cox shares with us how with initiative, amazing team spirit and a pro-active approach Strix Ltd did not let Covid slow production or productivity.

At Strix, the pandemic hit early, by western standards, with our largest manufacturing plant being in Guangzhou, China. The factory was already shut for the Chinese New Year holidays when the local management team cut short their vacations, displaying initiative and commitment to make the facility safe. As well as the provision of the ample supplies of the masks and hand-sanitisers that we are all now familiar with, the team erected a disinfection tent outside the factory entrance, deploying one of our own products, Halopure. This laces water with bromide to draw out bacteria and viruses and render them inert. Workers were covered with a fine spray on entering and leaving the factory, providing them with extra reassurances.

We then got the 750 staff back to work even whilst much of the public transport infrastructure was suspended, using company buses and private cars to fetch those who lived further out. With daily temperature and health checks, anyone with symptoms of the disease were quarantined for 14 days on full pay. The combination of these measures and the speed and efficiency with which they were deployed meant the factory only had to be shut one additional week, beyond its usual holiday shut down period, as enforced by the government and no-one in the facility has tested positive for Covid-19.
Back here in the Isle of Man, we learned quickly from the comprehensive initiatives and examples set by our Chinese colleagues and rapidly mobilised our Operational Risk Committee (ORC), which met every day leading up to and during lock-down using our extensive video conferencing facilities. The committee facilitated a swift response to lockdown and used government guidelines as a minimum standard which we went above and beyond, reflecting our company ethos to make life “safer by design”.

As a manufacturer, it was important that we could maintain a degree of production, not least to play our part in supporting the wider community. We did this by adapting and redeploying equipment and staff members to create medical components and face masks using our 3D printing capabilities. We also supported the Charlotte Valve project which enabled full-face snorkel masks to be converted into emergency respirators. Furthermore, we used our supply chain to secure masks for the wider community.

In Ramsey, the team there graciously agreed to have their usual holidays brought forward whilst demand was reduced and then respond to the bounce back anticipated in the second half of the year. Every single staff member was given access to their supervisors and members of the senior team to contact whilst they were off, as we were very conscious that lockdown can be a lonely experience, especially for those living alone or temporarily apart from their loved ones.
Our teams in the UK and the US are still on their own lockdown journeys, and we ensure that we share everything we have learnt in China and here with them to keep staff safe and the business operating as best we can. We’ve also shared opportunities to connect socially virtually, having carried out Zoom “pub” quizzes and set up WhatsApp groups to ensure it is not all work, work, work!

As an international company, it has been a challenge to have travel curtailed; but I think this has made us make extra efforts in our video conferencing and written communications. Meetings have become more efficient and focused as so many of them are now virtual. This pandemic has been a journey into the unknown, and as such, it has made us each reflect on how we communicate and connect, and it has certainly been an opportunity to appreciate the kindness of strangers.
This latter observation comes from the heart, as I relocated to the Isle of Man during lockdown, having to self-isolate for a potentially very difficult 2 weeks. I’d packed up my life in the UK in a tearing hurry, and needless to say arrived inadequately supplied. Thanks to the amazing community that I found myself in however, I wanted for nothing, with milk deliveries and grocery shopping all done for me with a willingness to help that I have not seen in a long time, despite the challenges everyone faced in adhering to a strict lockdown.

I’m glad it was so strict and so rigorously enforced. It has meant that I can explore my new home and enjoy all that is has to offer now feeling safe and incredibly lucky whilst friends and family back in England can only look on in envy as I try to decide where to go out to eat of an evening.