Leading a team can be challenging at the best of times, and with coronavirus in the mix, the last couple of months have been interesting to say the least. Thankfully, we had a chance to make our plans for lockdown, ensure that the technology was in place, and had the ability to fully function remotely.
They say it takes 21 days to break a habit, and during this time I’ve seen my team adapt to make a success of remote working. Every day they’re carving out a workspace at the kitchen table, or juggling child care and home schooling responsibilities whilst absolutely achieving their work objectives at the same time. It’s been great to see such resilience, productivity and good humour coming out of these extraordinary circumstances.
Of course, I have been affected too. It feels like a very long time since I started the business in December 2016. I began with a clear idea for a values-led recruitment company which would combine the principles of the public services with gold-standard customer service. These values – our commitment to honest relationships, to being ambitious for ourselves and others and simply providing the best possible service – are more important than ever before. As MD, I want my team to be able to see those values in my interactions and the decisions I make every day.
One of the notable things about this pandemic is that we really are all in it together. I know that the actions I take over the next few days and weeks will affect my team, our workers and their employers and our communities too. From a public health point of view, working from home is the safest place for my team, but at some point we will need to get moving again. The challenge for us is how? We will need to conduct all kinds of risk assessments - how staff journey into work, their health and wellbeing once in the office, from wall mounted hand sanitisers, to social distancing, signage and ensuring that the building has been maintained safely during the lockdown.
I’ve heard people comparing the current crisis to the Second World War. The War definitely focused the mind on the common enemy and people accepted the need to make sacrifices. In the 1940s, before the end of the War, government acknowledged that hardship by committing to the universal welfare state. It’s interesting that the current chancellor’s financial relief package includes policies such as the furlough scheme, which might have seemed indulgent – even profligate this time last year.
We have always known that crises accelerate change – often for the better. It has been fascinating for me to see this in action and my attitude to flexible working and work/life balance will never be the same again. If anything good can come from the coronavirus emergency, I hope it will be a collective responsibility. We must remember that we were all in this together, and that each of us is entitled to thrive as we come out on the other side.