Frontier and its subsidiaries have adopted the use of several digital platforms to stay connected with customers, colleagues, suppliers and partners, helping to ensure all areas of the business can operate as close to normal as possible throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Charlotte Cunningham reports.Video conferences, webinars, emails, phone and video calls, texts and video updates via platforms such as Starleaf, FaceTime and WhatsApp have become the ‘new norm’ after the business ceased all non-essential face-to-face contact.

Since then, with some 450 employees now set up to work from home and additional social distancing rules in place to protect the health and safety of customers and staff members who are unable to work remotely, digital communication channels have become pivotal to the business’ operations, according to Frontier.

“Our customers and colleagues have been incredibly quick to adapt,” explains group commercial strategy director, Andrew Flux. “In an unprecedented situation our dedicated IT team has been able to facilitate an easy transition to remote and online working for many of our staff, including the use of various digital platforms to communicate with customers in ways that suit them, while also maintaining communication with the wider agriculture industry.”

Virtual knowledge exchange

As well as hosting virtual farmer meetings, webinars and even technical support via video calls, Frontier will also be putting on a number of virtual open days.

The 3D Thinking open days, usually held in June, are a core part of the business’ innovative trials and demonstration work. Head of SOYL and technical services, James Moldon, is working with the technical and sales teams to assess new, digital ways to disseminate the same insightful trial data that attendees would normally expect to receive.

Commenting on these plans, James says, “We’re looking at various digital channels to support the sharing of information from our trial sites. We’re already utilising video conference facilities; Starleaf lets us deliver presentations, or webinars, to multiple participants, so we are exploring that route as a way for our experts to share the insight and learnings they would normally discuss at an open day.

“We know the value of physically seeing a crop in the field too, and our customers are keen to receive regular updates about how plots are progressing in our trial sites. We have experts working in isolation to monitor their development; by using phones or tablets on site, they can video the crops as they grow and pick out the key visual variations. These can then be shared with our customer base immediately, or discussed at a later date.

“We’re also using a drone to capture imagery for the purpose of assessing pests and disease, overseeing management and to share further updates.”