28th January 2021

11 months, ¼ million hours in the field, 75k skating customers and zero Covid-19 cases


Navigating a temporary architecture business through the challenges of Covid-19

Navigating a temporary architecture business through the challenges of Covid-19

Many have asked how it was possible for Arena to deliver projects such as London Stadium seating reconfiguration and the build of Edinburgh Rugby’s training stadium amidst the global pandemic.

Our track record thus far is zero reported cases of Covid-19 on any construction site or at any of the 3 live ice rink attractions (Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink, Queen’s House Ice Rink, Warwick Castle Ice Rink), which ran from early December until we were forced to close on entering Tier 4, on 20th December. This period accounted for a quarter of a million worked hours for our Arena crew. How were we able to deliver a zero-transmission rate for our employees and indeed the public, during the live ice rink attractions, where we welcomed over 75k customers through the doors, in the toughest of Tier 3 scenarios?

Here’s a little insight into how we have consistently delivered Covid-secure construction sites and live events since the virus arrived in March 2020.
Our ability to react positively and quickly to the COVID -19 outbreak focussed on the leadership team’s knowledge of the standard “Hierarchy of controls”. This enabled the business to translate and implement risk management strategies into actions, to ensure the safety of our workforce during the peaks and troughs of the pandemic so far.

Eliminate the ability for transmission.

From the first few cases back in February 2020, we were in planning mode, looking at which staff were critical to be in the workplace and on site, and removing the requirement for social contact by embracing and pro-actively developing new software solutions. Newly developed software solutions allowed us to plan and interact safely with our employees.

Immediately, surplus numbers of crew attending sites and locations were removed using strict criteria, which determined the necessary crew numbers for safety critical activities. This meant we had to be very clear with clients on extended build and de-rig times to ensure their expectations were met. Minimising staff travel and focusing on critical, minimal crew numbers also supported the environmental objectives of our business, by achieving fossil fuel and carbon reductions.

Reduce the potential for transmission.

Time, distance, shielding and cleaning were the focus pillars of the plans to reduce the potential for transmission amongst those staff remaining in the workplace.

Tasks were planned to reduce the frequency and time workers were within 2 metres of each other and PPE, including face coverings, was mandatory (unless within cohorts). Workers were appraised of the new rules and workstations were set up to promote working side by side or facing away from each other, rather than face to face. All employees used PPE, cleaning products and sanitising products to ensure that before and after they utilised equipment, workstations or canteen areas, they provided a safe area for themselves and the next user.

Isolate potential infected employees

The development of a robust and adaptable cohort system ensured that teams did not mix and potentially spread the virus throughout the Arena business. These teams were standalone and kept as small as safety permitted [usually 3]. Inter-cohort mixing was managed, where needed, utilising face coverings, time restrictions and personnel placement. Usual concurrent activities, between trades and sub-contractors, were stopped and work schedules extended, with clear, two-way communication to clients in order to manage expectations.

Control the standards required to reduce transmission.

All staff were kept up to date with changes in procedures through regular communications. Managers and supervisors ensured the continued adherence to required standards through positive interventions and proactive planning.


Where PPE, other than general face coverings, was required (some of the work Arena completed meant a higher risk of contact with the virus) suitable Respiratory Protective Equipment [RPE] was provided to teams. Essential training in its use was provided and all relevant staff completed professional ‘face fit’ testing. This not only ensured the equipment was suitable but also provided the employees with confidence in its ability to protect them.


Arena recognised, from the start of the pandemic, that the actions of our staff were paramount in the success of any project. The key to this was to encourage an open and collaborative approach between the leadership team and those working in the midst of the crisis. Therefore, we worked on and will continue to do so, building trust in a system where any issues could be openly discussed and addressed, to promote a safe and positive environment.

We are proud to have continued to trade during this pandemic, with the safety of our customers and staff at the forefront of our actions, resulting in zero Covid-19 reported cases.

This pandemic has certainly kept us on our toes. The ability to operate construction sites and live events safely was paramount to the longevity of our business. We jumped straight into planning mode, made quick, informed decisions and followed with quick, impactive actions. We have very much remained in planning mode. Business continuity planning has become business as usual. We will continue to ‘plan, do, review and modify’ as the situation evolves.

Kate Karagholi, Arena’s Marketing Director said, “The constant collaboration, consultation and communication with our key clients over the past year has solidified and cemented our relationships and set us in good stead for when we come out the other side of the pandemic. Our brand reputation has been boosted by the fantastic testimonials received from our many partners, who have seen the Arena Standard at its absolute best and very much consider us ‘a safe pair of hands’.”

Get in touch to find out more, I’d love to hear from you about your experiences.

aspinks@arenagroup.com | 07747 456 268

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