When Sustainability Meets COVID-19
By Natalie Tham
March 30, 2020
As Singapore's largest clean energy solutions provider, we are in an influential position to lead the thought leadership on how we can make Singapore and the region more sustainable. In line with this, we started on a sustainability report to gather feedback from our stakeholders on their thoughts on ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) issues. Thereafter, we planned for a sustainability workshop to be conducted on the 26 March 2020, to further engage these stakeholders on the impact these issues have on their business environments and how we can support them in their sustainability efforts. We have been planning for this workshop since early this year.
It was an experience riddled with hurdles, all the way from the planning to the execution of the workshop.
Day 1 (Friday, 20 March: Set up for 3 rooms and dry run)We planned for the workshop to be conducted physically in 3 separate rooms, with some of the participants dialling in via Zoom. Our first dry run was complete!
Day 2 (Monday, 23 March: Discussion to switch from a 3-room to a 1-room set up)After a discussion, we decided to have the workshop in a big gathering style.
Day 3 (Tuesday, 24 March: Set up and rehearsal for big room set up with dry run)Our dedicated staff from different departments came down to help in setting up the space. Although our IT Department was engaged in external training, they came to help in the set-up without hesitation. In line with safe distancing advisories, we shifted tables and chairs, pasted red tape on tables to signify a 1m distance between participants' seats, and pasted participants' names on their allocated seats. After all the physical efforts to create our new set-up, we completed our second dry run.
We felt good after the second dry run," Mac Aw, Associate Vice-President (Marketing and Communications) recounts. "Little did we know that we would have to make several more improvisations along the way."
We removed additional chairs and spaced chairs apart to adhere to the 1-metre distance between participants.
We arranged for a designated seat for each participant and placed red tape to signify a 1-metre distance between each participant.
Mere hours later, the Government announced new measures to enforce safe distancing in light of the coronavirus situation, such as limiting attendance at gatherings to 10 people or fewer. Although these measures only applied to gatherings outside of work, we decided to align our workshop with these precautionary measures to ensure the safety of our participants.
Day 4 (Wednesday, 25 March: Switch back to 3-room set up and new dry run)We reverted our plans back to square one - a 3-room workshop. We had to undo our efforts from the day before, and expend new efforts to redo the set-up in 3 different rooms.
"As hosts of the workshop, we recognise that it is critical to ensure the safety of the participants in light of the COVID19. The collective effort by the teams involved allowed the adjustments to be made timely for the workshop, and we are glad to be able to play our part to safeguard the participants involved," Sebastian Wang, Assistant Manager (Marketing and Communications) said.
And after successfully completing our third dry run in a different set up, we thought that nothing else could come between us and the workshop.
Soon after, we were notified that our consultant, one of the key presenters for the workshop, may have come into contact with recently confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients. This further dampened our moods, but we took immediate action and asked her to stay at home and conduct her presentation virtually over Zoom. With our consultant offsite, we tested out the workshop for a final time.
Day 5 (Thursday, 26 March: Workshop Day)Despite the struggles we faced, the workshop commenced on time and ended promptly, with no glitches!
"This experience was definitely a test of our resilience. Although we could have either cancelled or postponed the workshop, we chose to persevere on. We would like to thank our dedicated staff, who came back to support the preparation of the workshop everyday without complaint. We would also like to extend our gratitude to all participants for taking the time to join us for such a meaningful workshop," Rob Khoo, Vice-President (Marketing and Communications) said. "It was a very fruitful session that gave us a better understanding on how we can make our business value chain more sustainable."
Together, let us continue taking a firm stand for sustainability and overcoming the obstacles that come our way.