I was really reassured in the 1:1’s with the team that, aside from missing the social interaction, they had adjusted really well and were enjoying some of the benefits of working from home, including a better work life balance, alongside the opportunity to have time to focus. A number of the team, including myself, have reasonably long commutes and even before lockdown we had begun to address working more flexibly through flexible working hours. The past three to four months has made us realise that working flexibly is something we want to continue and will certainly consider working from home as part of that. We’ve really started to appreciate that work is more about the activity and NOT the destination.
Now that lockdown is lifted we have made sure that the office is safe for our team to return – if they want to. We are lucky in that we have a relatively small team and a large open plan office space so making the adjustments wasn’t too tricky. And, it means team members now have the option of returning to the office for a change of scenery or to catch up – socially distantly – with colleagues, which is great. Some members of the team have moved back to the family home, even further afield, so will continue to work from home for the time being.
2. Personal Development – Even though we have been really busy, what spare time the team have had has been used effectively for personal development. With so much free resource out there, the guys have been able to continue their own personal development, keep up-to-date with trends or changes to media and social channels or learn new skills. It’s been great to see some of these ‘new’ skills already put to use too.
3. Supporting Clients Internally – We have been supporting clients to communicate clearly and regularly – which has included to their colleagues and customers – tailoring messages that aim to inform, explain, reassure and avoid the rumour and speculation that can so often fill a communication-vacuum.
4. Supporting Clients Externally – Externally, we’ve had the opportunity to share lots of positive stories too. For example, while Specsavers were closed for routine testing during lockdown, they remained ‘open for care’, continuing to provide essential and emergency eyecare particularly for key workers. It was vital that the public understood that their local optometrists were standing by ready to take their urgent calls or to get in touch online, so sharing stories through local newspapers, online and social media channels was really important. It was lovely to have such wonderful stories from the stores we work with and the appetite of media to help tell them.
5. Clients Adapting their business models – In some cases, the communication challenges during lockdown have been ‘business critical’ as organisations have either had to change their business models or routes to market. When one of our client’s, White Rose, had to close its seven high street stores selling handpicked recycled fashion, the organisation quickly moved online launching an e-commerce site. An intensive period of social media communications followed and, in the past couple of months, they have experienced a steady growth in followers, reach and, crucially, directly attributable online sales. Our team has been creating beautiful content that captures the voice and persona of the brand, in a way that is building a like-minded community.