Fastflow had begun trialling flexible working in 2019, with a six-month pilot project conducted by subsidiary United Living (UL) in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the government’s Flexible Working Task Force. The trial included home and remote working – both of which have become essential business practices during the coronavirus crisis, although 80% of Fastflow’s 1,100 employees have now been furloughed.
However the experience of last year’s trial helped UL and other group divisions DW Support Services (DWSS), Fastflow Energy Services (FES) and Fastflow Pipeline Services (FPS) to continue providing maintenance and repair services to infrastructure and buildings during the lockdown.
It has also informed preparations to resume some of the suspended operations of group member Partner, which builds new homes for affordable housing providers.
Chairman and chief executive Neil Armstrong said: “We have all faced working and personal difficulties over the past few weeks. For us it has been ensuring that everyone stays safe and healthy as we work on the UK’s gas and water networks and carry out important repairs to people’s homes.
“There is no doubt that the lessons learned during the flexible working experiment gave us an advantage in planning new ways of working which meet the government’s safety and social distancing guidelines. Closely following advice from government and the Construction Leadership Council, whilst drawing on our own experience of working safely when providing essential services, we have now developed additional safe systems of working.
“Over the coming weeks, we intend to re-mobilise new housing sites where it is safe to do so. This will be on a graduated, phased and risk-controlled basis, prioritising external work and focusing on areas where social distancing can be maintained. We will continue to review government guidelines and assess the ongoing safety and viability of our operations as the situation progresses.”