Working During the Virus Outbreak, 2020

Well here we are then.

Early May 2020 – the sun has been shining and the Country is on lockdown. The only shops operating are those selling essential products. Schools are closed and the roads are empty.

There is a meme circulating on Facebook (I’m sure you’ve all seen it) detailing the conditions we’re all living in, from queues at Supermarkets through home schooling. It aims to remind people in the future of how the UK and Europe is coping (or not!) here in early 2020. Perhaps this blog post can serve the same function.

Government guidelines issued in March specified that anyone who can work at home should work at home, and quite sensibly so. Unfortunately for us at GWD the manufacture of presentation and promotional packaging is NOT something one can do in the front room! This beast below (for example) was built in 1908 – and is not something you could put under your arm and pop in the garage.

Manufacturing industry during lockdown
Manufacturing industry during lockdown

And for us, of course, we work on projects that are often not realised until a long way in the future. For example we are already working on packaging for next Christmas – and although none of us can be certain – we have to be optimistic that the lockdown regulations will be lifted by then!

The uncertainty is obviously a problem, but the wheels of business continue to turn and at some point we will return to some semblance of normality. Orders are coming in, slowly, and indeed, we’ve been fortunate enough to have picked up one or two new clients even during this current period.

So how have we coped?  Well unfortunately we have had to take advantages of various government schemes and ‘furlough’ (strange how that word has entered our vocabulary this year, isn’t it?) a number of members of staff. Obviously this is unfortunate, but at least they’ll remain on 80% of their wages. Staff in our industry have very specific skills, often learnt over years and it’s important not to lose them.

Additionally, we are following strict social distancing regulations in our warehouse and offices and staff have been working at home whenever possible. The safety of our staff is our primary concern and we have had to adapt our production methods to enable social distancing, but we have managed.

Interestingly, a number of our existing clients have moved a larger proportion of their business on-line – adapting to the current conditions. Bettys of Harrogate have always done a good trade with their ‘Birthday Boxes’ (see below), a large round hamper box (one of our specialities), but in the current conditions when people can’t be with each other on their birthdays, a lovely box of treats is the next best thing! They have just placed another order for more, such has been the demand!  Since they have been obliged to close their shops and café’s they have had a new onus on pushing their online sales and we have been producing an increasing number of these boxes. Similarly the Simply Delicious Cake Company are launching a new Birthday Cake presented in one of our beautiful boxes to meet the demand for online gifts.

As always, please take a moment or two to visit our clients’ websites if you have a moment. Your taste buds will thank you even if your waistline doesn’t!

And remember – stay safe!

 – Noel.

Boxes for chocolatiers and patissiers
Boxes for chocolatiers and patissiers

Noel Greenwood is the Managing Director of GWD Ltd, the designers and manufacturers of presentation and promotional packaging.  You can reach him on (01279) 416093 or at the company’s website:

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