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‘Force manual reset’

Despite its pressures, Quill Chairman Fiona Harris says the pandemic has given some businesses the chance to reassess what is important.

I doubt few would have imagined back in the dark, cold days of March that three months later, the majority of us would still be working from home as we hurtle towards the mid-point of the year and pass the longest day on June 21. We have had so much to reflect on and consider, what has the ‘big pause’ meant for businesses?

It is a great national tragedy that many businesses both large and small won’t survive this enforced shut down. Some which were teetering on the brink, or new start-ups which unfortunately didn’t even get off the ground, will have fallen victim to the Covid-crash. For those of us fortunate enough to have been working throughout, it hasn’t been without its stresses and numerous practical challenges. But one thing it has done is to create an unexpected opportunity to look at what really matters for the fortunes of all businesses – the people, the human resource that ultimately makes the difference between an ‘ok’ business and a great business.

Embracing digital technology has enabled us to undertake all our daily work tasks efficiently, and how normal it all now seems. The psychology of how teams perform has always fascinated me, particularly the dynamic of how differing personalities interact within an office environment. There are days when everyone collectively seems a little low and days which are the entire opposite. That simply hasn’t been the case in our enforced lockdown. Instead of the physical proximity of the office and coworkers, everyone is reacting to different family and environmental influences and challenges.

In April when the exceptional Spring weather kicked in, I remember feeling concerned that everyone in the Quill team had some outside space that they could enjoy – fortunately they all did which I am sure is good for the soul as well as inspiring both calm and creativity. We have ensured that people have taken ‘time out’ and had at least a few days ‘homecation’, desperately hoping no doubt for a proper holiday later in the year, let’s hope so.

Whilst I am convinced that we will largely return to normal, the mind has an inane ability to ‘forget’ the bad stuff, and hopefully working practices will change for the better. It’s a given that there will be an increased use of technology, more flexi-working and a greater focus on well-being. All of which will be positive outcomes from this ‘forced manual re-set’. We have also had the benefit of getting to know our colleagues and contacts better as video calls have given us a greater insight into their homes, individual style and ‘domestic personalities’.

Let’s hope that as many businesses as possible are able to make the most of the awful situation we currently find ourselves in and come through it with their teams closer, more tolerant and more efficient.