Part 2 of 2
While companies navigate the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, corporate leaders should be evaluating a number of key business continuity issues as well as steps they can take to not only react to business disruptions but also reshape their business and recovery plans.
We spoke with Dan Steele, Senior Director and the APAC Head of Environmental, Health, Safety, and Security (EHS&S) at GLOBALFOUNDRIES (GF) Singapore, via teleconference for insights into the best practices he and his team have implemented from their Business Continuity Plan (BCP) to guide them through the health crisis.
SEMI: How can SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) afford BCP, as they are often quite costly?
Steele: BCP is not something you afford. Rather, it is essential to good management. Every business is about managing risks and every manager’s responsibilities include risk mitigation. Regardless of their size, companies often pay a higher price for survival in a crisis because they are ill-prepared. All companies owe it to themselves, their employees and other stakeholders to conduct ongoing business continuity planning. No one knows what or when the next crisis will be, and no plan is perfect in mitigating crisis impacts.
However, it is critical to plan for potentials, institutionalize EHS and security best practices, ensure the supply chain has both redundancy and robustness, train employees to adopt additional skills, and work with customers in advance. Companies that continue to ask themselves what if are the ones that will be the best prepared. And, if BCP is done right, businesses can avoid huge losses. Dwight Eisenhower said, "Planning is everything, the plan is nothing." I think too many companies spend far too much time creating exacting plans when instead they should be planning. Since planning the survival of the company is every manager’s daily responsibility, BCP should not be purely looked upon as a cost, but also as an expected deliverable from the management team.
SEMI: Companies have rolled out mandatory work-from-home (WFH) policies and it has become a new normal for many of us. What other measures can GF take should this WFH period be extended?
Steele: Our work-from-home policy seems to be working quite well at this point. However, WFH will only be effective if the right tools are provided to employees – we give our employees access to our system so they can work remotely. WFH also offers opportunities to drive new and innovative ways of working, and accelerates some of our automation efforts such as Augmented Reality (AR).
At the same time, mental health is just as important and we conduct weekly check-ins with employees to assess their anxiety levels by asking two basic questions: How is the team’s morale and has it impacted productivity in our operations? For us at GF, WFH is not a disintegration of the team. It is important to our operations to continue the social aspects of working as ONEGF. That means online meetings should require face-to-face interactions. It is important for people to connect. Additionally, we maintain the same quality expectations for remote work as we do when employees are on-site. If this WFH period is extended, we need supervisors and managers to reach out and ensure that we stay connected with our employees.
SEMI: What BCP lessons have you learned during the outbreak and will the learnings change any of your business or operations strategies when normalcy returns?
Steele: I am not sure we learned anything new about BCP. As stated, our approach to BCP is to spend less time on exact plans and more time on planning, asking ourselves what if and mentally walking our way through potential solutions. This crisis reinforces the premise that we must be prepared. We did not have a plan on our shelf for working-from-home, but we had visualized it, knew what we would have to enact and now have employees managing highly sophisticated, technical and skilled manufacturing operations from home, and some of them reside in Malaysia. BCP must be a conscientious, concerted effort even when normalcy returns – it helps us better prepare. Additionally, BCP is not the responsibility of a single person or department. Just like our daily business, BCP is an integrated effort across many functions. Good and great ideas come from anywhere in a time of crisis. Listening is extremely important.
SEMI: If there is one takeaway from this unusual and uncalled experience, what will it be?
Steele: What we walk away with is the fact that we are dealing with a pandemic that is highly unpredictable, and that we need all types of employees with diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. This inclusion has made us successful all along, and that is what is helping us ride through this crisis today and into tomorrow. We are glad that we have a diverse and proactive BCCM team that is able to quickly adapt and respond to the many challenges of a crisis.
SEMI: What advice would you offer to stay productive while WFH?
Steele: We acknowledged that it is difficult for the WFH policy to be effective in the manufacturing sector. Although we do not see any productivity loss thanks to automation, we’ve seen a slowdown in our engineering activities.
My advice: First stay healthy, monitor your health, and follow the government’s hygiene advice for yourself, your families and the communities you live in. If you socialized before, there is no reason to stop. Stay connected with your co-workers and team. Personally, I don’t believe WFH now means you are always on. Just as you did when working on-site, you still need your personal time. You have to strike the balance that works best for you.
Dan Steele has over 25 years of experience in environmental, health, safety and security operations. He has also held other leadership roles in facilities engineering, quality, reliability and assurance, and risk management.
Bee Bee Ng is president of SEMI Southeast Asia.