From changing where we work, to how we operate and even how we communicate with our customers, the last year has been an extraordinary experience for us all to say the least. General Manager at DTE Cambridge, Karol Radziejowski, shares how the pandemic has not only affected how his site operates, but how it has revolutionised how we communicate with each other.
I joined DTE in August 2009, shortly after relocating to the UK from Poland. I never in a million years thought I would end up working in the timber industry, but here I am almost 12 years later now as General Manager of DTE’s newest site in Cambridge. I saw DTE as the perfect environment for a young person like me, who has the drive to continually improve, progress, and challenge myself, and it has not disappointed me to this day.
When COVID hit back in March 2020, we all had to adapt quickly. As part of the construction supply chain, we’ve continued to work under strict safety regulations during these uncertain times. The safety of our employees and their families was the most important thing for me to focus on as General Manager and we have introduced several measures to do just that.
My Role as General Manager
My role involves the overall responsibility for the site, including the achievement of monthly targets and objectives. I work closely with the directors within DTE to plan, communicate and implement tactics to improve output and efficiency levels. Health and Safety at the site is also a large part of my role, and the pandemic has added extra layers to this which have become our new normal. I am deeply appreciative for the opportunity to build Cambridge as a new DTE site, with the support and experience of a talented team around me.
Saved by our Screens
Being responsible for Cambridge during the pandemic gave me the opportunity to really think about different types of human interaction, and how we could all communicate better and more efficiently. I always enjoy chatting and listening to the team around me, both in person and virtually.
As most of our office-based employees began to work from home, new ways of communicating and managing people had to be put in place swiftly. These changes drastically altered our ways of working and made my job more challenging, as there was very little face to face communication with the rest of my colleagues.
Communication changes were not only limited to internal interactions, but also with our customers, as we could no longer carry out site surveys or visit our customers in person. Zoom and Teams calls replaced physically travelling to sites, and we found ways of helping and advising customers virtually, and most importantly, we did so safely. Measuring a roof is now done virtually, guided by our technical sales team when travel restrictions are in place. Our designers are also working from home, assisting with customer enquiries virtually, and then communicating with the rest of our team internally to maintain good customer relationships.
When COVID-19 became a pandemic, the way we communicated as a business changed seemingly overnight. You could say that technology has been a lifeline in allowing us to continue to operate and meet the needs of our customers.
Learning to Adapt
With social distancing in place, to begin with, production output was not at pre-pandemic level. However, we managed to maximise production to satisfactory levels to meet the demands of our customers, and this has improved over time, as we have all learned to live and work with our new safety measures. Encouraging my team to understand the importance of the new guidance and why we need to do things differently was challenging at the start as the new rules were not natural to us. It was also hard to keep everyone’s spirits up as nobody knew what was going to happen with regards to the virus and the restrictions, it was a scary and uncertain time for us all but there is light at the end of the tunnel now.
I am a DIY enthusiast, and love to set myself little woodworking projects. I prefer to spend my free time outdoors, either doing DIY in my garden or escaping to a local pond to do some early morning fishing.