January wasn’t too long ago. Yet it’s a time from a different world. Remember those plans you made at the start of the year? The resolutions, the goals, the pressure you put yourself under? How quickly our lives have changed and now, as the shock begins to fade, we start turning our thoughts to adapting to a new reality.
The past few weeks have been surreal. We’ve been forced to adapt, change, and take on new ways of living and working. I’ve been amazed by the resilience I’ve seen. Yes, there have been selfish people out there who make it their priority to only look out for themselves. But there’s also been kindness, hope, and people doing their level best to hold things together and to find positives in what has become the biggest global crisis many of us have witnessed in our lifetime.
Wherever there are positives, there’s community. Whether that’s online or in towns and villages up and down the country, people are coming together to look out for one another and to provide everything from hope and courage through to entertainment and education during a time of unprecedented challenges.
Uncertainty still abounds. We don’t know what’s coming next. We know things will likely get worse before they get better. We know we’re going to be tested with challenges we haven’t faced before. We know we’re going to have to adapt to new realities. And we have a choice; we can let fear and despair win. Or we can fight back and let the very essence of our humanity shine through.
I know what choice I’m going to make.
And I’d implore all of you reading this to try, where you can, to do the same. We might be confined to our homes but our spirits remain free and our innate ability to survive, adapt, and then thrive remains intact.
Here are some of the things I’ve discovered since this all began which - by sharing with you - I hope will help you like they’ve helped me.
Do good and feel good
Earlier this year I wrote about the paying into the Bank of Goodwill and it feels like this is more important now than it ever has been before. There’s a lot of frightened people out there and a lot of businesses suffering and facing an uncertain future. If you can help them, then do it. For example, giving away your best information, helping people and not necessarily expecting anything in return is a great place to start. It might come back, it might not. But at least you’ll feel good about life. How good would it be to actually “feel” something about business again?
I’ve been touched by the many different examples of communities coming together to help each other. It’s something very refreshing after several years of political and socio-economic division. I’ve been following crowdfunder.co.uk and looking at community groups who are seeking support from interested followers (both before Covid-19 and since) - including the amazing initiative to raise funds for personal protective equipment for frontline NHS staff. If you need a pick-me-up, it’s worth checking out the projects people are setting up and running with.
Closer to home, many of my marketing friends have been involved in setting up this digital support group for businesses. You can find the first webinar they ran here. These people are offering support for free even though their own businesses are suffering as a result of the crisis.
Be kind to your staff
This one is for all the business owners out there. There have been two distinct responses from businesses; one has been to look out for themselves without a second thought for staff or suppliers. The second, has been those businesses who have stood by staff and suppliers where they can - realising we’re all in this together. My advice is this, stay true to your staff – if you can – either keep them employed and use government schemes like furlough; or deploy them on housekeeping or back office project work to keep them employed during the lull. Above all – be honest with them. If you treat them badly now, you’ll lose loyalty and they’ll be gone when you need them the most (when we recover).
Support small businesses
Big business will survive this. They have reserves, market share and enough HR / legal / finance bodies in place to easily access government money. I’ve been incredibly heartened by seeing people support small businesses like local producers and shops rather than big supermarkets. Once small businesses are gone, they're gone yet they are so vital to a healthy economy that if you can support them during this time then you should.
I went to the pub twice last weekend - once to “The Log Inn”and once to “The Address Bar.” Catching up with your friends with a few beers and some banter from the comfort of your own living room has never been so easy. It may be a novelty at the moment but it’s getting many people through some tough times and we’re seeing people connecting more online more than ever. I was meant to be meeting friends in the Lake District from Ireland, Scotland, London and Leeds. So, in lieu of that we met up online, had a few drinks, did a pub quiz, played charades and had a brilliant time full of laughter!
Embrace tech as a force for good
With the large-spread use of video calls in the last fortnight, people who were previously technophobes, or said “it can’t be done” are all realising that it CAN be done! Whole teams are working from home where previously they worked in an office after a sometimes arduous commute.
Video meetings are taking place instead of face-to-face (often proving to be shorter and more productive!) and travel (plus CO2 levels) have also been slashed. Our team is talking more during the day but are seemingly more productive.
We do an afternoon call named “The Brewsual Suspects” where we all grab a cuppa, take 15 minutes, and have a chat without mentioning work once. I’ve already had several members of the team say thank you for organising it as it helps to keep them sane.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have human interaction in person, but I can see where wasteful journeys can be reduced and companies can be more flexible with their employees' working locations.
I don’t know what the rest of this year will bring. And there are plenty of things far beyond my control. Instead of worrying about them I’m focussing on the things I can control, trying to stay positive and working to help those around me - both in life and business - do the same.
In that spirit, if we’ve not spoken in a while or even if we’ve never met and you’d like to say hi, let me know and I’ll book us a table at “The Log Inn.”