Vitstry’s James Warrington on what it takes to get operations back on track


James Warrington low res

Getting staff back on site safely during the height of the pandemic was a major task that required a huge amount of planning across all operations. The way our staff and supply chain responded was outstanding and, thanks to the combined efforts of the workforce, we maintained a robust level of productivity throughout. 

Having had a chance to reflect on this period, I believe there were three core areas that were key to success: 

Site operations

Once social distancing had been established, with strict adherence to government guidance, certain operations were able to continue safely during lockdown. This was confined mainly to activities where contractors were working outside and not in close proximity to anyone else, and to those operating machinery. This enabled us to make material progress on a number of sites in April. We did this to honour commitments we had made to customers to have their new homes ready.

It was a hugely stressful time for these people, and we wanted to provide them with the home they were originally so excited about moving into. We made sure we finished those homes and completed all the snagging, again working strictly within government guidelines. Our site management teams demonstrated the right behaviour for safe working and made it clear that they would not accept any deviation. This was quickly taken on board by everyone working on site. 

Additionally, our site operating procedures were rewritten quickly to provide confidence and guidance to our on-site teams. 

Materials and the supply chain

We were rigorous in ensuring that call-offs were in place. Materials reconciliation was conducted regularly on every site to ensure we were always ready to go.  

We engaged frequently with our supply chain to understand their challenges and to communicate our needs, making sure we understood any extended lead times on their part. The majority of our supply chain is UK-based, which proved to be a big advantage. 


We put significant time into explaining the new ways of working clearly and in depth to our contractor teams. This gave them the confidence to get on with the job, and they were positive about coming back to work on site.  

We also communicated extensively with our staff to keep them updated on progress. Almost 1,000 colleagues listened in to regular calls with Stephen Teagle, our chief executive, which were designed to engage with staff and in part discuss how we were getting back to operations as swiftly and safely as possible. 

James Warrington, divisional managing director, Vistry Partnerships