Adam Hindson looks at Acumen’s learning’s as a business from the Covid-19 pandemic.


Adam Hindson is the Chief of Staff and Director of Compliance for Acumen Waste Services Ltd.  Here he looks at the company’s response to the Covid -19 pandemic and reflects on the challenges and the lessons learned for the future.

“It’s been a year that we’ll not forget quickly”  says Claire, a Key Account Manager in Knottingley.  “I’m lucky to belong to an extended team who look out for one another, either contributing to the cleaning regime, taking the prescribed precautions or just being mindful of how people are feeling”.

In the words of Alok Sharma, the Business Secretary:

“As we return to work, the Government wants to give employers and workers confidence that their workplaces will be safe for them to return to because we recognise this is an anxious time for many.”

With further lockdown restrictions being lifted and business hoping to ‘return to the new normal (again)’ it is a good time to take stock of how we performed and how we will continue to operate under a changing and challenging landscape.

The UK confirmed its first 2019-nCoV (now Covid-19) infection case, following France and Germany, on 31 January 2020.  The dramatic and subsequent increasing infection and sadly, mortality rate raised our anxiety and uncertainty about tomorrow, about the health and safety of our families, friends and loved ones.  The similar feeling of uncertainty manifested itself in businesses too, there was a fight for information whilst trying to navigate and come to terms with processes and terms, such as furlough, shielding and self-isolation.  Further compounded by a perceived lack of clarity and support from government and regulators, who were in relative terms slow to catch up with the private sectors needs and wants.

Crisis Planning

The ability to own the decision process with limited bureaucracy and protracted lines of communication places Small to Medium Enterprises (SME’s) , at an advantage when confronted  with a crisis.  When faced with this unprecedented situation, Acumen turned to 5 questions that helped shape our reaction to the pandemic:

  • Q1) What situation do we face and why?  What effect do they have on us?
    • Product: A SWOT analysis.
  • Q2) What have we been told to do and why?
    • Product: Analysis card: Implied and specified tasks and constraints to be considered.
  • Q3) What effects do we need to have on the situation and what direction do we need to give to develop the plan?
    • Product: Main Effort effect  Key impact idea   End State When we want an update/decision brief
  • Q4) When and where do the actions take place in relation to each other and what resources are needed?
    • Product: Decision Support Matrix (example illustrated).
  • Q5) What control measures do I need to impose?


Protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees and our stakeholders

Before the 15th March announcement from Matt Hancock we decided to commence a review of our Business Continuity Plan (BCP) on the 3rd March, which poignantly coincided with the first UK COVID-19 related death.  The UK number of coronavirus cases jumped to 280 on 9th March, which was also the date we issued our revised BCP along with the latest advice the UK Government were issuing on travel and information on vaccine development.  The BCP focused on that which the government advised as good practice. In emergency planning, preparedness and response is key.

Therefore, our Business Continuity Plan for an outbreak broadly covered:

  • How our organisation will continue to function if workers, contractors and suppliers cannot come to the place of business
  • How to Communicate to workers and key stakeholders about the plan and their role in it
  • And ensure the plan addresses mental health and social consequences of a case of COVID-19 in the workplace

The BCP helped us plan and execute the catalogue of Covid -19 support measures, such as risk assessments, code of conduct and furlough administration.  Command and Control as well as communication was going to be key to how the business performed and survived the pandemic.

Future proofing

There is no doubt that the pandemic has stretched our collective capabilities when charged with leading a company through unchartered territory.  Building a resilient capability takes time, effort and practice.  Time and the ability to practice in this situation was not something we had the benefit from, we did however have a strong senior team, which had the advantage of working together for a good length of time, knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses and not being afraid to be open about the latter.  So, the team have been focused, and in being so, we have witnessed the very best in our people.  The support we have given to each other, whether directly or in directly through this crisis has really been a group effort.  The Acumen family have continued to adopt our Code of Conduct inside and outside of the work environment and in doing so place us in a strong – if not stronger position in some ways to face the remaining challenges of 2021 and beyond.