Day in the Life of … Jonathan Cannon

November 2020

Meet Jonathan Cannon, an engineering manager who leads the process engineering team at Lorien for clients across the food and drink sectors. Here, he tells us about meeting the challenges of working from home and how the food and drink industries are keeping food on supermarket shelves.

My work at Lorien means I have never worked a 9-5 day. Pre-Covid, I worked in the office for half the week and spent half out on site with clients. Now, in common with much of the country, I don my office clothes and head across the landing to my desk for a day of meetings on Teams.

I always make a point of putting on a tie and dressing for business though – I find it helps distinguish work from home mentally. 

Spending a significant amount of time online means that we all needed a proper office set-up at home. Lorien supported this by supplying headsets and speakers to those who needed them and enabling us to take home our office chairs and desktop monitors so we’re not having to peer at a laptop screen all day. We’ve done assessments to ensure that health and safety is up to scratch in our new working environment.   

Our clients in the food and drink sectors range from Kelloggs, PepsiCo and Mars to brewers such as AB InBev and Molson Coors Beverage Company through to Advanced Manufacturing, Life Sciences, Logistics and Warehousing. 

In the current climate, clients are choosing to either delay projects if they are not critical or bring them forward more quickly to meet market demand. One client, for example, needed our assistance to convert and denature spirit originally intended for whisky to meet demand for hand sanitiser.

Manufacturers also have to be agile to meet increased demand for product consumption in the home. At Lorien, we have been busy helping clients to reconfigure packaging solutions so that products originally intended for the hospitality and catering markets can be made available in smaller retail packs, cans and bottles. We have seen an increase in production of food staples such as cereal into retail boxes as fewer people are having breakfast out of the home.

While many of our processes have been successfully adapted for online – such as a hazard and operability study (HAZOP) we have just completed with chemicals company – working on site is still necessary and throws up its own health and safety challenges. We keep our staff safe via Track and Trace and regular temperature checks, as well as carefully considering break out areas, food safety and accommodation where an overnight stay is required.

Working remotely means that you need to create more opportunities to catch-up with the team as they don’t happen fortuitously around the kettle!  Whereas previously the whole team would meet every six weeks, we now speak over Microsoft Teams three times a week. I firmly believe that informal knowledge transfer is important, especially to younger members of the team. Communication is also crucial for innovation and to help maintain morale and we are supporting team initiatives to create those elusive watercooler moments through an informal chat with a colleague over Teams with a cup of tea or dialling into the virtual pub at the end of a week.  

Outside of work, I’m keen on both walking and mountain biking. Unfortunately, my partner and I had to postpone our wedding planned for this year until July 2021 - although we did celebrate the postponed day in the garden with a few socially distanced family and copious amounts of champagne. The current situation does make you re-evaluate what’s truly important in life! It is fantastic to have a great team of people around me with varied skills and specialisms.  A variety of technical projects continues to keep the brain active and engaged during lock down.