Control room technology leader APD Communications has stepped up recruitment activity during the coronavirus crisis, including hiring 19 new employees since the lockdown began.
Over the past year the company has increased its workforce by around 50 new roles and, while the Covid-19 pandemic has crippled many businesses, the company has continued to be fully operational.
APD is a leading supplier of cutting-edge software to the emergency services, public safety and control room markets and has now grown to 170 employees, based across its offices in the UK, predominantly at its head office in Hull, and a small satellite team in India. This represents exceptional growth for the tech firm, with headcount increasing by over 30% since November 2019.
The entire APD team has worked from home since the coronavirus outbreak, using tools and technology embedded within the business well before the crisis hit.
The company switched all of its employees to working from home a week before the Government announced the lockdown, with no break in operations or impact on service to customers.
APD Managing Director Mike Isherwood said: “We’ve kept the company moving forward and continued to support our customers at a time when they need our support most.
“Our success is absolutely down to our people and their performance. They’ve done an incredible job and we’re continuing to invest in new technology and software and recruit strongly.
“We haven’t furloughed anyone, because we haven’t needed to, and our teams have adapted incredibly well. People have shifted their roles and responsibilities to support colleagues. It’s amazing to work with people who have responded so positively.”
APD is forecasting £16 million turnover in the 2020/2021 financial year, compared to £6 million four years ago, and completed the 2019/2020 financial year with an order book larger than its £11 million turnover for that year.
Mr Isherwood attributed this growth to securing long-term contracts and upgrades for existing customers and winning new business within the UK police sector. New international customers include a major IT and communications network operator and a transport operator in the Netherlands.
In addition, APD is now delivering a major Home Office contract the company won earlier this year to develop critical software to enable blue light organisations and other public services to transition to a game-changing communications network for the UK’s emergency services.
APD employees have remained fully engaged throughout the lockdown, helped by extensive use of online platforms such as Facebook Workplace and Microsoft Teams.
Online mental health and mindfulness sessions have been organised through the Hull and East Yorkshire branch of mental health charity Mind, while teams take virtual tea breaks together and colleagues join virtual exercise sessions to keep fit and positive.
APD also launched a company-wide initiative in which all employees were sent a packet of APD-branded sunflower seeds and encouraged to use their increased time with their families, at home and in their gardens, to take part in a competition to grow the largest plants.
The competition, organised by Commercial Director Rhiannon Beeson, was a throwback to a past APD tradition – started by its employees at the company’s previous premises – and was the perfect gesture to help people feel a sense of togetherness whilst working apart, with employees sharing regular updates on their online platforms.
Wendy Hiley, Talent Attraction and Engagement Business Partner at APD, said the level of recruitment during the lockdown period was the highest in the company’s history while the additional activities organised for employees to help them remain fully engaged with the business and colleagues, while working from home, had been a huge success.
She said: “To have 19 new starters in the lockdown period alone is remarkable and this has been my busiest time to date in recruitment at APD. We’ve taken on people who were facing uncertainty in their careers because of the pandemic so it has been great to be able to offer them a new start.
“The lockdown period has helped us to understand how successful working remotely can be and show we can recruit in a different way going forward, including interviewing people from the comfort of their own homes.
“I love the personal touches like the sunflowers and my daughters are helping to grow them. I was also named Employee of the Month just after we went into lockdown and received a hamper of gifts and a handwritten card, which was a lovely pick-me-up.”
The company’s recruitment process has become fully digitised, with interviews, presentations and discussions with candidates all taking place via telephone and video calls, followed by structured onboarding for new recruits.
Freddie Booth joined APD as a Marketing Executive on 20 May and his induction into the business has included a virtual office tour, as well as online one-to-one informal chats to get to know his colleagues.
Freddie said: “I was nervous about looking to take the next step in my career while in lockdown, but the interview process worked well and having regular and really positive communication from APD throughout the process has been great. I don’t think it could have worked out better for me.”
Edward Edoja joined APD on 1 June as a Software Quality Assurance (SQA) Engineer. He was initially furloughed by his previous employer and then unemployed for two weeks before joining the APD team.
He said: “The recruitment process followed three simple stages, including online informal conversations and formal interviews. My interview was more like a conversation, which made me feel more relaxed. Everyone is very welcoming and I’ve gained so much knowledge already.”
Dorothy Hawley joined APD as a Senior Software Engineer on 18 May after leaving the same role with a travel company. She said: “My main goal while looking for a job was finding a company that helps people and provides a service to humanity, which APD does. My team is fantastic and APD has done so much to make me feel welcome.”
Based in Hull’s Old Town, APD has developed cutting-edge digital technology in the city for more than 35 years. The company’s mission critical communications and control solutions are used by more than two thirds of UK police forces, as well as other emergency services organisations, serving around 40 million people in the UK.
APD also provides critical software for major transportation hubs, including Gatwick and Dubai international airports and the London Underground.
The business is continuing to recruit, with vacancies advertised on its website. To find out about careers with APD go to www.apdcomms.com/geek-with-a-goal
[John Meehan – Meehan Media & Comms]