Our response to COVID-19

The impact of Covid-19 on Anglian Water has been profound. In the face of unprecedented circumstances, we have risen to the challenge, maintaining our critical business services to our customers and supporting our communities throughout the pandemic. 

The Covid-19 crisis is unlike any incident we have previously prepared for, despite our industry-leading resilience team and ISO 22301 accreditation for business continuity. Although the provision of our vital services to our customers was never in doubt, we have had to adapt as an organisation to maintain our service delivery. We have learned, and are still learning, valuable lessons in resilience at both an organisational and an individual level.

Like the rest of the nation, we found the early characteristics of the pandemic to be incredibly dynamic, complex and far reaching.  

Unlike operational incidents, where we have specialist responder teams and a clear incident management structure, the pandemic called for a pan-organisational response. So, reflecting the bronze, silver, gold and major incident strategy team (MIST) command structure that we use for large-scale operational incidents, we adopted a concept from the UK Armed Forces known as ‘J’ Cells — the ‘J’ representing joint, in line with the military’s ‘Joint Command’ — formed of specialist teams who can work on different areas of a complex situation. 

For Covid-19, Anglian Water’s J Cells represent all areas of the business: people, operations, planning, supply chain, logistics, data/ intelligence, communications, finance, business continuity, and health and safety, enabling us to coordinate a range of functions to address potential impacts while evaluating triggers for escalation and response as the situation has evolved. 

Structuring ourselves in this way has allowed us to maintain a high level of situational awareness right across the business and with stakeholders, dealing with surges of activity and ensuring a consistent and comprehensive approach to how and when we communicate to the business.  

Once the immediate disruptive effects of Covid-19 on our workforce had passed, we soon settled into a steady state of delivering our critical business services to customers, although we have remained on an incident management footing throughout the crisis. The structure and format of the J Cells allowed for a reescalation of activity and focus during the approaches to the second peak.  

Our approach to dealing with the impact of Covid-19 has at all times been driven by our social and environmental purpose and our values, leading us to look beyond the continuing supply of essential services, to our wider role as a core member of our community.   

James Edmondson, Covid-19 lead for Anglian Water

“ The crisis has lasted beyond all our expectations but our employees have risen to the challenge, adapting quickly to new ways of working, and, for those on the front line, risking continued public contact to ensure that we keep safe, clean water flowing to all our customers.”

We have invested significantly in programmes and initiatives to support our most important business asset: our people.  

The crisis has lasted beyond all our expectations, but our employees have risen to the challenge, adapting quickly to new ways of working and, for those on the front line, risking continued public contact to ensure that we keep safe, clean water flowing for all of our customers.  

Thousands of our employees now carry out their duties from home and collaborate virtually, supported by our transformed IT networks and tools. Many have said that they feel an improved work-life balance from working at home, and we are adapting our ways of working permanently as a result (see Ways of Working).  

We have highlighted our response to the Covid-19 pandemic in line with our key impacted Principal Risks.