Not another new normal blog
We have all experienced a challenging period of uncertainty during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdown has affected us all in so many ways, throwing everyone off balance and it is safe to say that “back to normal” will never be the same. Amid the chaos and uncertainty, the priorities are the health and wellbeing of our families, our employees, and without question, ourselves.
Everyone at JUMP has been working remotely since the end of March to practice responsible social distancing, and this has undoubtedly tested our disaster recovery strategy which ensured that everyone had the necessary equipment and access to their project files relatively quickly.
We very quickly moved from physical face-to-face meetings into a virtual world of Teams and Zoom. Our Senior Management Team ensured that our daily stand-ups and sprints continued virtually. Our reliance on Cloud-based tools became essential, and we learned how to bring them together in innovative ways. By embracing new technology, we moved from our physical whiteboards for our face-to-face daily stand-ups to virtual ones, and it has become an integral element to the start of our working day.
Working remotely has undoubtedly increased our productivity; however, from a personal point of view, I have missed the office banter and the face-to-face human interaction, which is so essential for our emotional and mental wellbeing. Pre-pandemic, one would walk past a colleague heading towards the kitchen or photocopier and stop to have a natter, quickly catching up or asking a question regarding a project. Now in the grasp of the pandemic, interaction via Teams or Zoom just isn't the same. I would say that at times, we suffer from Teams or Zoom fatigue. Therefore, it is essential as Managing Director, that I am empathetic and take time to listen to concerns raised by my team.
Working from home provided an individual set of challenges for everyone; from having enough space to work, through to home-schooling the kids. An approachable leader puts people at ease so a flexible approach to work-life balance is what is needed in these unprecedented times. So, if my team need to reach out with any stress or anxiety, I make sure I am available.
Work life balance is ever more challenging in the current circumstances. As the team organised their work around the challenges, they have in their home life it really didn't matter when they were working - as long as we met our customers’ expectations and upheld the level of service and quality that they expect.
Like many business owners, I have recognised that we don’t need all the office space that we currently have. We have proven that the traditional approach of everyone working together in a central office is no longer a priority. Our team has learnt how to work remotely and independently, knowing that their fellow team members are simply a Teams or Zoom call away.
As individuals, we all have different worries and anxieties regarding the virus. I have been able to meet individually with some team members to hear their concerns about the prospect of returning to work. I have rearranged our office so that desks conform to social distancing. Our team are not worried about being in the office, more so, travelling on public transport and other members of the public not wearing masks. These concerns are genuine and should be taken seriously.
I want to encourage flexible and remote working with our team with a caveat that they are required to work in the office at various intervals, where possible. Taking regular breaks between working from home and the office will help with their mental wellbeing and emotional health. It will improve creativity, productivity and allow them to keep in touch face-to-face with their fellow teammates.
Running a small business is stressful at any time, and the pandemic has amplified this. Responding to the virus as well as to the many challenges ahead is not a sprint, it is a marathon, and our tenacity will be essential. On a reflective note, I have found new ways to manage my stress levels which have helped me to start my working day with a positive mood. This has enabled me to stay focussed and improve my own mental wellbeing and emotional health; so important to do before trying to support the rest of my team.
Though there have been many negatives over the last six months, there are also opportunities, and change is always a chance to reflect and improve. As a service provider, we need to evolve, spot opportunities and ensure that we satisfy our existing and new customer needs. By remaining authentic, the ability to adapt, innovate and be creative has never been more critical.
Businesses will continue to face challenges over the coming months, that’s for certain. For JUMP, we continue to innovate and deliver for our clients whilst looking out for our staff, to make sure we’re able to continue to deliver in the long-term. This marathon isn’t over yet, and we’re in it for the long haul.