Hireman’s lateral thinking
16 February 2021
London-based independent, The Hireman, has acted quickly to benefit from coronavirus lateral flow tests for its staff, which are now becoming more widely available. Rapid testing facilities are being rolled out across local authorities in England.
In early January, tests were initially offered to workplaces with more than 250 employees for those who could not work from home, but from 7 February they were made available to firms with more than 50 workers. Test results can be produced within just 30 minutes.
Previously, only people displaying symptoms were being encouraged to book a test, but now asymptomatic individuals can ask for an appointment.
“I don’t think as many companies have picked up on this as should have. As soon as testing was announced, we looked into it and found the vaccination centres that were closest to our three depots, and where our employees live, and we booked them all in,” managing director Neil Graham tells me.
“Our main City depot in Canning Town (pictured) is actually very close to the ExCeL exhibition centre, which is a main testing hub.
“All our staff are now going at least once a week for a test at the most appropriate location for them. It’s working a treat.
“It’s all about building confidence in your team,” he says. “You want to keep everyone together, comfortable in the workplace environment and ensuring we maintain our customer service at high levels.”
As well as Canning Town, The Hireman has depots in Wembley and Croydon, serving customers in and around the capital.
“A number of mutations of the virus have been reported in parts of Greater London,” says Neil. “Indeed, the government introduced extra testing for people in certain postcode areas. So by ensuring our entire workforce is being monitored it gives everyone reassurance. We know we are safe because we’re all being tested.
“One employee actually tested positive but was asymptomatic. He immediately went home to self-isolate. It initially caused a bit of a stir, but all those who had worked with him went for another local test to make sure. We really felt we were doing our bit to help, because that person otherwise might have unwittingly spread the virus to others.”
Indeed, looking more widely, Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested at a Downing Street press conference yesterday that rapid testing, in combination with vaccination, could help in re-opening "those parts of the economy we couldn't get open last year".