It’s now been over three months since the UK and Europe went into lockdown, so I thought it an appropriate time to pause and reflect on this period and also to look forward.

The health and safety of our colleagues and their families has obviously been our absolute priority throughout. Looking back, I’ve been very impressed with how quickly everyone managed to adapt to new ways of working, ensuring responsible behaviour and compliance with the evolving guidance.

Pictured: Phil working from home.

Our second focus has been to ensure we keep operating our plants and supply chains to keep our customers supplied. The importance of this became clear early in the crisis as customers supplying into food and medical applications saw an increase in demand. Then, after a few weeks, we started to see the significant growth in the use of clear acrylic “cough screens”, which by now you’ll have seen become a big part of allowing shops and other businesses to reopen safely.

Demand for MMA (methyl methacrylate) for these applications continues to be very strong and we expect that to remain the case for some months yet. Everyone will have had their own issues and difficulties to deal with while carrying out their role, so we’re very grateful to each and every Lucite International employee and to our suppliers for helping us keep manufacturing and supplying our customers safely and reliably through these last few months.

After several weeks of being focused on the health and safety aspects of fighting the virus, and ensuring the ongoing operations of our business, it became clear that we were going to be dealing with the virus for many more months to come. So, it’s great that we’ve also been able to make significant progress on several longer-term strategic projects such as:

Our next MMA plant on the US Gulf Coast using our Alpha technology.

Our major circular economy project aimed at ensuring PMMA becomes a fully sustainable material.

Significant investment in Cassel site, home of our European MMA plant, to ensure the long-term sustainability of this key asset for Mitsubishi Chemical.

On the personal front, I’m still working from home in line with UK Government guidance and as so many people have found, I’m needing to be flexible to adapt to the circumstances. I’ve now worked in seven different rooms in our house as we’ve adjusted to the family needs – even changing rooms dependent on the temperature and weather – there’s no office air-con here!

Week-long visits to our HQ in Tokyo every 1-2 months have been replaced with 11pm video calls once or twice a week – it’s been great to be a part of the adaptation to this new way of working and I’m sure we’ll be continuing with some of this even when things return to normality. The reduction in CO2 emissions usually associated with this long-haul travel and, personally, the lack of jet lag are welcome consequences of this change.

I’m writing this while trying to multi-task and listen to the UK Government briefing ahead of pubs reopening, which is a reminder of just how far we still have to go in fighting this virus and how fragile any easing of lockdown continues to be. Tempting as it may be, I won’t be rushing back out to the pub just yet!