Fu Gong – the word that every China based employee was waiting to hear after the extended Chinese New Year. When Coronavirus first appeared in China in mid-January 2020 only a few people would realise that the virus would impact Chinese New Year and Geely’s return to work.
As Coronavirus spread through China at a record rate from Wuhan to the wider Hubei region before appearing in the neighboring provinces, Geely’s executives established a working team to oversee the virus’ impact on the Zhejiang region where Geely is based and also on Geely Holding’s 120,000 global employees. Putting employee safety first, it was decided that Geely would follow government recommendations and extend the Chinese New Year Holiday from January 26th to February 10th, giving employees more time at home.
“Shenme Shihou Fu Gong?” Would be the question that everyone would ask – When do you get back to work? Besides watching TV, eating and chatting with close family – talking about Fu Gong had become a national past time.
From February 3rd to the 10th, Geely Holding had undertaken one of its most expansive work from home experiments that saw the Group’s entire workforce embrace working at home for the first time, introducing new ideas into remote colocation that had proven to be successful in certain aspects.
The Working Group liaised with the government to initially open the Geely Headquarters in Hangzhou from February 10th onwards and allowed select Geely employees to return to the office with the rest of the employees starting in two staged phases to avoid maximum impact whilst they worked from home.
Wechat – a chat app usually used for social communication became one of the key communication tools along with Geely’s own in-house array of tools. Even though our teams were often remotely working it was easier than ever to stay in contact and collaborate.
Geely’s digital media manager, Tony Chan visited China’s frigid North East during Chinese New Year holiday and upon return to Hangzhou he was asked by his district to voluntarily undergo a period of 7 days self-quarantine to make sure that he was healthy. “Working from home was an adjustment, we had to learn how to cooperate with our team in new ways and to be honest, we became more efficient.”
By February 17th Phase Two employees had returned to the office and factories had begun to spool up to prepare for vehicle production in the following week. Geely moved to set up new business services were introduced such as Geely’s online sales system that gives consumers a contactless car ordering and home delivery system, giving Geely a head start in the Chinese market. And to give consumers a greater piece of mind Geely’s R&D system moved to create ‘Hygienic Cars’ that will initially have advanced filtration systems, taking harmful virus and bacteria out of the cabin environment.
On February 25th, with all employees back to their place of work equipped with medical masks, the vast majority of Geely Auto factories roared into life across China.
Life under Coronavirus has changed people’s lives for the short term but Geely Auto is still confident in its products and its momentum going in the Chinese market for the rest of 2020.