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20 February 2022 by Joe Brooks

The last two years have been the most challenging of most of our generations’ lifetimes. Covid-19 wreaked havoc across the world, turning lives upside down in so many different ways. It hit MPI off the back of a planned-for quiet year, due to being between control periods in the rail industry, so felt like a blow rather than the anticipated upturn in business.

Throughout the pandemic, MPI have faced many challenges. As most are aware, a substantial proportion of MPI’s business is within the Aviation industry which was arguably one of the hardest hit industries out there. Many months passed where we had a vast proportion of workers not able to work. But it’s not only Aviation which has been hit hard, the rail industry also faced months of uncertainty. Some projects were stood down initially, so that the relevant adjustments could be made to meet new safety standards on working sites. A new payroll software was being rolled out within our finance team which always takes a certain level of patience and getting used to. Add to this a brand-new piece of Government Legislation coming into force… IR35! April 2020 saw this delayed by twelve months, which gave us some breathing space on making sure our clients and workers were as prepared as possible for its implementation.

Some of our focus had to shift towards ensuring we were able to sustain the pandemic from a cashflow perspective, managing furlough and the impacts of furlough on both those left working and those on furlough. This felt like a no-win situation for all our employees. On the flip side to this, a large proportion of MPI’s workers were designated key workers across our Defence and Rail sectors.

So, what did MPI do and how could we adapt to this? Well, firstly we moved the vast majority of the business to ‘work from home’. The sea of endless risk assessments and updates, constant concern for everyone’s general wellbeing presented a different set of challenges, with most people working in a completely different environment than they were used to which was daunting in its own way. The leadership team did a fantastic job at maintaining and boosting morale at the key moments.

Staying connected was more important than ever, so Zoom is something people got used to using very quickly as a tool to keeping in touch for work purposes as well as personally. As a team, we set up weekly meetings with the aim of keeping on top of what needed to be done day to day and also just to keep the team in touch with one another which became ever more important as we moved through 2020. WhatsApp groups have never been more important…

We also moved a lot of our client communications to Microsoft Teams / Zoom, to ensure we maintain our high level of communication through an isolated period. MPI have always taken pride in the amount of time we spend with our customers, whether that be meetings in the office, time spent on site promoting safety or at industry events. The immediate need to go from this level of service, to not be able to go on site, meetings postponed, work events postponed, definitely took some major adjustment. We are grateful for our clients who took the time to check-in on us throughout, which will always resonate.

The summer of 2020 (the summer of constant change) saw the easing of some of the toughest restrictions imposed by the government, meaning we were easing back into the office, able to get out on site outside and start working in the way we were all familiar with before. Another period of adaptation after so long working remotely and away from everyone else. As we moved towards 2021, things began to complicate again and we saw ourselves continuing to work from home for a further period of time. This time, it was easier to adjust and go back to something that wasn’t completely alien to us as a company. We had processes now in place, equipment ready and set up, avenues of communication established and a preparedness that served us incredibly well.

Fast forward to the end of January 2022 and we are working as normally as we have done for nearly 2 years! The various challenges of people working away from each other have slowly started to ease and we are now in a position where everyone is working normally again, a welcome reliefto many. The company has recovered incredibly well to a downturn in business during 2020 / 2021, to now being busier than ever in some areas. Aviation is now on the road to recovery, with many customers now pushing on with their winter maintenance programmes with the assistance of MPI and our top Engineers.

2022 gives us so much to look forward to as a company. This year, we celebrate the amazing achievement of being in business for 60 years! We believe that our expertise built up over this period of time has helped navigate us through the hardest period of our lifetime. Through this period of time we’ve developed a vast and reliable database of engineers and workers across our industry sectors who we work closely with every single day. We’ve developed long-standing customer relationships built up over decades. We’ve developed ways of working that sets us apart from others with MPI consistently able to retain staff for an average of 12 years due to our appealing work/life balance.

Things may not be exactly the way they were pre-2020, but would we really want it to be? All the things we have learnt and experienced in the last two years shows us 2022 and beyond has endless possibilities. We’re excited to continue our journey to what is hopefully many more prosperous years ahead.