Leading through uncertainty

September 7, 2020

By Annabel Green, CTO, Tendeka

Published in Energy Voice, September 2020

Over the last six months, the global pandemic brought very new challenges for both our home and work life along with whole new lexicon and unprecedented willingness to listen to our political leaders.

All those working in  oil and gas are very familiar with the cyclical nature of the sector and the impact of oil price crashes: budgets are cut, projects are shelved and cash is preserved.  At the peak of uncertainty, where we are now, we plan for the next upcycle and speculate about the long-term future of the industry.  All crashes are different, but this response stays the same.

The big difference here is that the challenge to our business since March has not primarily been about oil prices but about the health and wellbeing of our staff, and securing the supply chain to deliver on our commitments to our clients while learning to work effectively from our bedrooms and kitchens.  Although some projects were being delayed and cancelled, the contracts in place meant that Q2 was still a big revenue quarter for Tendeka.  We are enormously proud of the way that our staff have reacted and worked together during lockdown. Those who have worked throughout, assembling and testing equipment, and those at home balancing the demands there to keep the business operating effectively.

We had been tracking the spread of Covid-19 since the start of the year and the first impact on our business was the shut-down of our operations in China after the New Year celebrations in late January.   A Covid-19 taskforce was set-up shortly afterward comprising of the leadership team, HSE and HR to ensure an appropriate and consistent response to the rapidly developing situation and effective communication across the organisation.  Initially, managing increasing business restrictions and implementing hygiene measures, the taskforce has focused on safe working practices for our areas of operations, the mental health and wellbeing of our staff, and the safe re-opening of offices as local restriction allow.

It was a very strange feeling as we gathered up our things and left Vanguard House in Westhill on March 20.  We took docking stations, monitors, keyboards and even chairs to help us work comfortably from home but did not imagine that more than five months later we would still not have returned.   In recent weeks, we have been preparing for the partial re-opening of office which we hope can commence from 14th September.  Detailed procedures and equipment for safe working in the office have been implemented and we intend to start with very limited returns to ensure these are optimised.  We are prioritising those who cannot work effectively from home, either due to the type of work they do or restrictions in the home environment, but we are not anticipating a full return to the office this year.

From a business perspective, key challenges remain in developing our client base and effectively marketing our technology.  While travel will remain curtailed, the introduction of virtual industry events and the increased willingness of individuals to engage in online discussions and forums are providing some opportunity as we become more creative in our efforts. One real positive here is that our limited global footprint, compared to our large competitors, is no longer such a disadvantage.

The outlook remains very uncertain but as we become more effective at remote working and remote operations, we are learning valuable lessons that will help us to adapt to whatever the future brings.

Virtual working and operations