The pandemic may have brought markets to a crashing halt overnight, but for those playing a key role in helping the world cope with the crisis, the need to recruit had never been so pertinent.
While sectors such as construction, hospitality, manufacturing and leisure were forced to axe hundreds of thousands of jobs, the demand for workers in industries such as logistics, healthcare and food retail had never been so high.
However, with offices forced to close, the UK’s recruitment sector – like most other professional services – had to adjust to a whole new way of working during lockdown, as companies scrambled to find the right people to fill their vacancies.
KES Solutions, a Sunderland-headquartered recruitment company which counts warehousing and the food and drink industry among its specialisms, was no exception. Buoyed by the increasing demand for drivers and warehousing staff during lockdown, the company saw demand for its services peak, but like many others, had to adjust significantly in order to adapt to the ‘new normal’.
Kelly Swann, managing director at KES, recalls: “We started working from home just before the lockdown was enforced to ensure we were prepared for what was about to happen, but even then it was hard to envisage just how much it would impact us.
“It started off very quiet, as people just weren’t recruiting as much in our key sectors. However, as the parcel companies and our clients in the food sector started to ramp up their activity, things just kept getting busier and busier. Now we’re almost all back to work and it is business as usual. In fact, we’ve never been as busy as we are right now.”
Like millions of others, Kelly was unsure how the transition to home working would play out when lockdown measures were first introduced back in March and the move wasn’t without its challenges. However, thanks to the swift work of Nice Network, it took just hours for the company to continue operating once their office doors slammed shut.
“Rob [Webster] and the team were fantastic when we first began working remotely,” Kelly added. “Within a very short time, our office phone was redirected to one of our mobile numbers and we were able to ensure complete continuity of all our services.
“Like most other SMEs across the country, we were forced to place some employees on furlough during the early stages of the pandemic. But, once we started to see an uplift in demand, we swiftly started bringing people back and that is what was most challenging.
“Suddenly our sole phoneline was overwhelmed and – despite initially thinking we could operate without office phones at home – we soon knew this wouldn’t be at all feasible.
“This led to us procuring extra power packs and cabling so that we could use our office phones remotely and again – the team at Nice Network were brilliant at accommodating us and making it happen.
“It’s the busiest we’ve ever been and this would never have been possible without their continued support throughout the crisis. We’ve just won a huge contract on a national scale and, touch wood, so far, so good.”
Robert Webster, business development manager at Nice Network, said: “As a company that specialises in unified communications, we’ve been rushed off our feet during the pandemic ensuring clients have been able to adjust their communication stack to meet lockdown measures.
“From video conferencing tools to VPN installation and mobile device management, the demand for teleworking solutions has never been higher and we’re proud to have played such a key role in helping keep Britain moving through what has been such an incredibly difficult time for business.”