It is hard to believe that the first national lockdown happened one year ago today. As I think back to that day, I never imagined that we would all still be working from home and that this terrible virus would have claimed close to 2.7m lives globally.
I am very proud of our firm. We moved swiftly to get our staff working remotely, but whilst this worked very effectively there is no doubting just how disorientating it was for the business. At times we were managing change from hour to hour and day to day. Our Senior Leadership Team were meeting daily to consider the latest Government guidance and what that meant for our people, our business and how we could continue to support our clients in the optimal fashion.
Thanks to the flexibility and dedication of our employees we have come out of the crisis in good shape. We have learnt a lot about ourselves and our people and we are emerging stronger for this.
I have been delighted by the way in which our local community has pulled together. In particular, our Chamber of Commerce led the way in supporting local business, staying on top of the changing Government position and galvanising resources from across their network. Whilst these times have been tough for all, many changes have been positive and are, I hope, here to stay with us. During this time we have learnt many things:
- That we can embrace change and move at pace when we need to. We were planning a digital transforming across our firm, and we now have it, far more quickly than I ever imagined! This digital transformation has empowered people to find new ways of interacting, working and doing business. Embracing change such as this can only enhance society and drive us forward.
- The importance of social interaction. Whilst this digital transformation has changed our lives forever, being away from loved ones, coupled with the requirement to collaborate remotely in our working lives, has reminded us of the importance of social interaction and caring for each other. Remote communication has its place, but it will never replace the warmth of friendship and interaction with other human beings.
- The importance of agility within a business. It goes without saying that a typical 5 day working week of 9am until 5.30pm is a thing of the past. Just before lockdown we were implementing a flexible working policy for employees and I expect that this to become even more popular now and part of the business norm.
- The need to better embrace equality and social justice. Recent events, such as we have seen with the Black Lives Matter movement, have been a timely and stark reminder of us all and I hope 2020 is remembered as a turning point for these important issues.
- The importance of sustainability, flexibility and innovation for the business agenda, balanced alongside the continuing realisation of the importance of health and well-being of employees.
- Talent may no longer need to be located on your doorstep. With the possibilities around remote working increasing, in some industries we will have more access to talent as distance becomes less of a barrier to employment opportunity.
Whilst we must remember the past and learn our lessons from it, I look forward to the future with hope and optimism. It has been an incredible feat to produce Covid-19 vaccines in under a year. This development means that we can look forward to future times when we can again hug family and friends, socially interact without fear, work at a desk next to a colleague and travel to other places and countries.
The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter - let’s all continue to move toward it together.