Heather Hannam, head of HR at Macphie, explains how the company has implemented different ways to maintain a team spirit among staff, whether furloughed or not.

Despite Macphie having a head count of nearly 300 staff, we’re a pretty close-knit team. And while we have had to furlough nearly 60% of the workforce, we knew straight away that we needed to maintain that close connection. Those on furlough shouldn’t feel forgotten.

In a matter of weeks, we have switched from bottling sauces to thousands of bottles of hand sanitiser and we’ve reformatted industrial-sized bakery mix packs to cater to the demand of the consumer market (see p10).

With this pace of change, and so much uncertainty, keeping everyone informed is important. But we also want to maintain the sense of team and keep spirits high.

From personalised playlists to virtual treasure hunts, we’ve been trialling ways to encourage those on furlough to get involved and fend off potential feelings of isolation during these times. These activities are also open to those still working to encourage that sense of togetherness.

Our aim is to provide a way for people to have fun apart, but together, and the feedback has been positive

Last month, we hosted what we hope will be the first of several online quizzes over video call, ably compered by our CEO, complete with gameshow-host sparkly bow tie. We’ve also cranked it up a notch, with a few senior managers leading a group workout.

Our chefs have launched a Ready, Steady, Cook-style challenge, inviting employees to email in whatever random items are left in their cupboards, and the chefs will suggest meal options.

Our aim is to provide a way for people to have fun apart, but together, and the feedback has all been really positive so far.

We also recognise lockdown brings fresh challenges to people’s mental health – and nobody is immune to that threat. Our occupational health advisor has been on hand throughout the crisis and has been calling team members to check in, as well as being a supportive ear to those feeling overwhelmed.

As well as sharing business updates, we’re excited to hear about how those on furlough are using their time, such as volunteering and helping neighbours.

However our people are getting through these times, we’re proud of how everyone has adapted to the challenges our business is facing. It’s through tough times that a company’s values are tested and our sense of commitment and togetherness has shone through.

This experience is teaching us more ways to stay connected and feel part of a wider team, not just within our departments. I hope we can maintain this new-found spirit of togetherness when we start the journey back to normality.