With a background in mechanical engineering, Max Steward has over 22 years’ experience in the construction sector and joined BW just over two years ago. His goal is to create, lead and develop high-performing teams who will be the best in the industry. We caught up with him to talk about BW’s response to Covid-19, how the company’s approach came about, what challenges there were and how the BW successfully team overcame them.

Q. Max, you talk about ‘the best fit out experience’ in relation to new Covid-19 measures BW has put in place what does this now look/feel like?

A. Our priority was to ensure that all our projects were a safe environment for everyone that worked or visited the site. This included temperature scanning at the site entrance, one-way systems, removal of touch points and individual pods for contractor lunch breaks.

Once safe practices were in place, it was important to us that our level of service and our customer’s experience was not hindered or impacted because of Covid.

We encourage staff to innovate at BW, which resulted in some great outside the box methods of keeping our clients involved and feeling as close to the project as possible. One example was our 360-degree virtual site tours at each weekly progress meeting. These were very successful and use a “Google Street View-style” approach where we can take clients and colleagues on a ‘tour’ of a site. We also use geotagging to show images and information relating to what the end result will look like.

One of the challenges we faced with remote working was sample sign offs. Usually, we would present these on site, they would be discussed and signed off face to face. We found ourselves sending 3-4 samples of each product to 3-4 different home addresses and then discussing them in group Zoom and Team’s calls. We will definitely be getting a Christmas card from Addison Lee…

What does it look like now, well we are continuing with our covid safety procedures and measures until the Government change the guidance information, however there are various elements that will remain post Covid which enhance the way we all work, such as the more prominent use of Zoom and Teams.

Q. What has the BW team learnt most from 2020? And what have you personally learnt?

A. As a company, we have all learned the value of making quick and decisive strategic decisions. Taking a longer-term view, we did not think the initial lockdown was only going to last a few weeks, we were planning six months ahead to protect our staff and the business. Personally, I’ve been really impressed by the resilience of our workplace experts and how they have worked exceptionally hard to incorporate all the challenges that Covid has presented, and still achieved incredibly high customer service.

This has been reflected in our 2020 Customer Experience Questionnaire (CEQ) scores, which show we increased from an average 8.13 in 2019 to 8.23. Our Net Promoter Score (NPS) also increased from +42 to +59. Our scores so far for 2021 are continuing to rise at 8.75 and +67*.

Q. Can you give some examples of challenges posed by Covid-19 and how BW’s Covid measures have addressed these?

A. One of the challenges that we faced during the second peak was track and trace. There were occasions when we’d have a number of people on a project team who needed to isolate at the same time. This was mainly due to alerts via the NHS app rather than cases of Covid 19.

To reduce the disruption to our sites we had a ‘Covid bench’ of reserves: people that could help out on site when this happened. While the self-isolating team could manage the project remotely, as best as possible.

This was key to continuing our great service to the customer and consultants.

Q. How did you as a company come up with the BW Covid measures – was it a small group of senior leadership team or did you open out suggestions companywide or what was the process of establishing them?

A. Health and safety and HR took the lead on establishing guidelines for us at BW. They complied with each set of rules that came in.

I was really impressed with teams on site who played their part thinking of ideas such as laminating the programmes on the wall so that it could easily be wiped down or dividing the canteen area with Perspex screens. Having a sense of humour was also important to continually motivate people during the last year. For example, we had a picture of Peter Crouch with the slogan ’For social distancing you must be 2m apart, or 1 Peter Crouch. We have picture of One Direction in our head office reminding people to stick to the one-way system.

This is all part of Max’s modus operandi of challenging the status quo of fit-out by delivering exceptional customer experience by creating an environment where people feel empowered, trusted and valued.


*Scores correct at the time the article was written.