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Our Refrigeration and Energy Solutions Manager, Lee Harpham, tells us how he’s been doing his bit to keep food fresh and customers safe across thousands of supermarkets worldwide ­– all without leaving his front room.  

Much of my working day during the ‘new normal’ doesn’t feel all that different to the ‘old normal’. I’m at home, rather than in the office, but the remote access that IMS Evolve’s software platform gives us to customer data means that it’s pretty much business as usual. Which is just as well, given the critical nature of the work we do for our retail customers. 

The efficiency of food retailers and the safeguarding of their mission-critical assets has never been more important than it has been throughout the pandemic. Keeping in-store and supply chain operations running smoothly whilst ensuring fresh and safe produce has been a critical part of enabling everyone to have access to food during lockdown. Luckily, the physical restrictions upon businesses and society hasn’t stopped us from helping supermarkets improve efficiency and protect their infrastructure.

One of the great things about our IoT technology is that the data we gather from customer infrastructure can be accessed, monitored and managed remotely. Much like during my time in the office, I have been able to spend my time in lockdown reviewing data from customer estates to gain a better understanding of real-time performance and the health of retail assets, ensuring we continue to deliver value for our customers and drive new levels of insight and automation.

Despite the core of what I do remaining largely unaffected, there has been areas where my life and role have changed dramatically. Before lockdown, I was visiting customer sites to identify inefficiencies and scope out opportunities for automation and now, the only time I find myself visiting a supermarket is when I am doing my weekly shop!

Like many, I think the thing I miss the most is the daily face-to-face interaction and hands on-experience of being physically on-site; being in a store and building those relationships allows me to experience first-hand how our software is making a difference. While it’s great that we can still communicate effectively using video conferencing, the consultancy element of my role – working side by side with our customers – helps me to collaborate with the customer in ways that working from home can’t quite deliver.

Overall, I’ve made a smooth transition to working from home. The ability to manage customer insights remotely means the job really can be taken anywhere, and moving forwards, I predict it is likely that video conferencing will become a more prominent part of my day to day. Although site visits could never be fully replaced, lockdown has shown that there’s scope to reduce unnecessary travel and allow for far more flexibility in the ways in which we all work. 

On a personal note, the extra time with family has been the silver lining of the past few weeks. Certainly, the early retirement of ‘Dad’s taxi service’ has been a welcome consequence of the lockdown – even if it is only temporary!