The way we work has changed radically over the past few months. News of budget cuts and staffing changes has us all taking a new perspective on our industry but there is fresh business out there and we all need to keep working.
Everyone is still pitching. The size of opportunities varies but there is business out there for the taking and keeping our energy up with a new view on what we can do and who with, is essential to staying ahead.
As the lockdown guidance was updated this month, there was a change in the national mood and in business. Cat Davis, Group Marketing Director at MISSION Group/krow Group explains that when you are in limbo, unable to predict what may happen next, it’s difficult to plan and drive those plans with certainty to fruition. With a little more clarity on furlough and lockdown, we can already move things along.
Cycle of lockdown
When the lockdown was first applied, as we watched Boris Johnson give us the news we were not going in to work any more, everyone was a bit shocked. Initially we revelled in the joy of it always being a casual day and that we might eat our own bodyweight in chocolate. The situation was interesting for those few days but it soon became apparent that we’d all have to pivot quickly to adapt and survive.
The chancellor’s updates on recession are not clear-cut but there is a need for planning and action based on what we do know. You still have to invest, to keep working and growing in order to emerge with a healthy business. The ship is still turning but there are things we can do that will ease the change.
- Put your war face on and go into battle every day. If you don’t your silence will be louder than any campaign you can design.
- Continue to celebrate your successes, they will be different but just as important.
- Remind people you are still here – keep in touch and make plans, if the time is not now, it will come and it could come at you fast.
Personal growth and change
The pandemic is a human event and the prospect of a recession is very much a humanitarian consideration. Along with the emotional anxieties come the financial stresses, and people are trying to keep their businesses running while staying well and alive. Home and work are blended now, doing laundry can be a lunchtime activity, homeschool runs alongside emails and team meetings over Zoom. We are finding new ways to bring these worlds together and it’s no mean feat to manage these all at once.
How you behave now, will have an effect on what you do in the future. Be helpful, more self-aware, build relationships and change those things that needed attention before. These changes will be carried through to the return to work when we look at each other and listen carefully, when we groan less at a video call. When the world gets noisier again – we can make a more positive and optimistic noise.
Under lockdown, no one is expecting perfection. Video calls reveal a lot more about us, our windows need cleaning, the dog barks, children appear in meetings, we’re doing our best and this is real life. Video calls give us so much more in terms of empathy and understanding. Working apart has brought us closer in different ways.
Stand up, be practical and do the things you need
Planning for the future does not just mean pitching and reviewing your general demeanour (or choice of trousers). The internal workings of your organisation have been thrown into stark relief during lockdown, the limitations and the creativity, and these can be used to increase momentum.
Things that will make work easier –
- Get a platform you love or learn to use them all. The IT department doesn’t get the blame anymore (not that it should ever be the case). The challenges we face are poor home wifi, working out new software to at least find out why it’s on mute, grinning for too long while we scramble to find the ‘end call’ button. That’s a world of experience managed at a pace that we can use with confidence in future.
- Rituals that work for you. Keep the working persona that makes you feel your best, feel confident. Put a jacket on, wear lipstick if you like, comb your hair and wear a t-shirt you haven’t just done a Joe Wickes’ exercise class in’. Do whatever works for you to feel professional.
- Don’t panic. When you are home alone or with loved ones who see you in a more relaxed setting, it’s easy to react in ways that you would not in the workplace. Take a breath, message a colleague, ask questions. We all get worried without enough information, so arm yourself with something to think about and hold your nerve.
- Calm that competitive streak. Collaboration is key now, our enemy is not the competition, it’s a virus, it’s a recession and we can’t tackle that alone.
- Ditch the guilt. ‘Work from home’ has had a terrible rep, that it might indeed be ‘working’ from the golf course. We’re all doing this now and witnessed others putting their pedal to the metal from home. Remember this in the office.
These observations, plans and learnings from lockdown are not a perfect set of instructions to weather a recession or to face isolation but they do point out the strengths we have and can apply in order to hit the ground running as the future evolves.
There are reasons to be sad and to find joy, and there’s also a lot to feel optimistic about and look forward to. Things will become clearer as we learn about the virus and about ourselves and as we know more, we can keep the momentum going right through into the next new normal.