Working during a pandemic: what was the gift?
We like to think we’re a positive bunch and in any difficult situation, we always try to ask ourselves “where is the gift here?”
If a rainy day spoils an outdoor picnic, perhaps it becomes a chance to watch a film you’ve been meaning to see. Should a good friend move abroad, it’s always possible to reframe it as an opportunity to visit and see another country.
It’s the same in business. While it’s important to acknowledge all the sadness and hardships that have come with the pandemic, there’s no reason why we should not ‘look for the gift’, too. In fact, it’s a bit of a must in terms of survival for SMEs.
So we thought we’d share with you five of the ‘gifts’ that the pandemic brought us at Amack.
1. The gift of resilience
Like most of the world, the main thing the pandemic gave us was the knowledge that we are stronger and capable of much more than we think. If you’d asked us three years ago if our business, which relies so much on making contacts, bringing people together and face-to-face meetings, could survive a lockdown we’d sadly have said ‘probably not’. However, like lots of other businesses, we found that half the battle was simply saying to ourselves, ‘Actually, we CAN do this’, whether that was working from home, finding new ways to communicate, or simply getting through those early, fairly dark days. We discovered that resilience is ‘catchy’, too; when one person in a team displays strength and an upbeat demeanour, others do, too. And when we approached clients to say ‘don’t worry - we’re still here and still wanting to help’ they said ‘great - so are we!’. Resilience is a gift that keeps on giving, like that.
2. The privilege of being let into each other’s lives
Amack has always been a ‘family first’ business. We love our work but, for our team and our clients, we know home life is always top of the list. And so it should be. While we worked from home, we learned just how important it is for colleagues to look after each other. A little understanding when someone’s child needed a parent to be present to help with home schooling was repaid when another needed to take shopping to an elderly parent, or a dog needed to be walked when the park was quiet, or someone who lives alone just needed a phone call to remind them that alone need not mean ‘lonely’. It was something we all worked hard at and the return was that we were allowed into each other’s lives a little more, and that’s a wonderful thing. We all know a lot more now about each other’s children, pets, extended families… We’ve seen their gardens, veg patches, home offices, kitchen tables, and occasionally their laundry hanging out behind them. And we all feel a little more human for the privilege - it’s something we want to hang onto (OK, maybe not the laundry, but the rest of it!).
3. The ability to be flexible and adaptable
Every living species is only on the planet due to its ability to adapt. If it weren’t for animal adaptations, we’d all still be living on the sea bed eating plankton. We all improved our ability to adapt during the pandemic. For some that meant getting to grips with online shopping; for others it meant creating an entirely new business or moving house. However big or small, we learned to embrace change a bit more and that’s always a good thing. Change, along with death and taxes, is one of life’s certainties, yet we’re often too resistant to it. Here at Amack we learned that we can work differently; we don’t all need to be in the office to throw around ideas, we don’t need our clients to be there face-to-face either. And in being flexible we were also forced to be more creative; a by-product of finding workarounds and solutions to new problems was that we happened across great new ideas that we’re continuing to work on now, as we slowly emerge from the pandemic.
4. Discovering new technology platforms
Back in 2020, even Zoom felt like undiscovered ground, but two years on, we’ve discovered all kinds of technological gems that help us work more effectively. Work operating system, Monday.com has helped us manage our workflows more easily and clearly; something that we desperately needed to stay organised as a team when we were working remotely, but that we’ve now found to be invaluable. We’re also now big fans of Trakti, a platform which we use to create, negotiate and manage contracts. We’ve been amazed at all the clever platforms that have either sprung up or we’ve unearthed in finding solutions for ways of working in the last two years, and they inspire us to offer new solutions for post-pandemic ways of working for our clients, too.
5. Enjoyment of the little things
There’s no denying it, there are things we miss about pre-pandemic days. When we get the chance to shake hands with a new client in person, celebrate their successes with a drink in the pub, or just go out for an impromptu team lunch in the sunshine on a Friday, it feels a bit more special than it did before and we appreciate those simple things all the more.