6 Different Takes on Lockdown

England’s second national lockdown (Lockdown 2.0) officially started on 5th November 2020.  At the time of writing, it is set to end on Wednesday 2nd December 2020.  However, how are organisations from different sectors faring this time around?  Are they sailing on choppy waters, or is it plainer sailing second time around?

Emma Estridge, Director of Mushroom Marketing & PR, got in contact with 6 organisations from varied sectors, including a charity, packaging supplier, ecommerce expert, HR consultant, clinical therapist and conference organiser.  Each of them gave their thoughts on how their business is coping and what is different this time around compared to the first version of Lockdown.  Their responses vary from finding the current climate extremely tough, to being busier than ever.

Read on to discover how each business is doing, together with their one piece of advice for getting through these tricky times…

The Global Supplier

Richard Drayson Sales Director at Aegg talks Lockdown 2.0Richard Drayson is Sales Director at Aegg Creative Packaging, recyclable glass and plastic packaging supplier to global food and drinks brands.

1. How is lockdown 2.0 impacting on your business?

Certain areas of the business have been impacted – for example, we supply food pots to airlines serving in-flight meals.  As airlines and travel continue to be impacted by lockdown and other restrictions, very few in flight meals are being served.  However, many areas of the business remain buoyant, including our glass jars division.
Most of our team have moved from being based at the office to working from home again, resulting in the need to focus channels of communications with teams.  Also, as we are unable to meet customers face-to-face, it requires a different approach when pitching for new business.

2. Are you having to make any adjustments within the business due to lockdown 2.0?

For Aegg, there is no difference to the first lockdown.  We continue with our office sanitising rota each evening; our one person per office room rule; and our one way system around our head office in Andover.  We are taking part in virtual industry conferences as well as online zoom meetings; our team are reducing the level of travel and the team at our head office are working from home where possible.

3. Are there areas of your business that are busier than usual? Why do you think this is?

There is no real panic buying [for food and drink] that was a feature of the first lockdown. Demand seems to be less impacted this time round.  Retailers seem to be nervous about the shape of Christmas and thus playing it safe with volumes and variety.  No one knows the size of allowed family gatherings this Christmas, so there is caution on our large family serve bowls.

4. What one piece of advice would you give to other businesses to get through these tricky times?

Keep talking, protect cash.

 

The National Charity

Simon Bull, CEO of National Charity CMT UK, talks lockdown 2.0Simon Bull is CEO at CMT UK, a national registered charity that supports people living with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which is a group of neurological conditions. CMT is primarily hereditary and is progressive.

1. How is lockdown 2.0 impacting on your organisation?

The impact of lockdown 2.0 on CMT United Kingdom has been fairly minimal in terms operation of the charity day to day. We have been working remotely since March and will continue to do so. There is an effect on fundraising which cannot be accurately measured. Those who might have organised or enrolled on events have not had the opportunity to do so.

2. Are you having to make any adjustments within the organisation due to lockdown 2.0?

We have not had to make any further adjustments due to lockdown 2.0. The organisation is already supporting working from home for employees, remote access to computers and on-line meetings.

3. Are there areas of your organisation that are busier than usual? Why do you think this is?

The charity has seen an increase in helpline calls particularly from those who are isolated and vulnerable due to the pandemic. We have become more proactive and call members to give support, a listening ear and a friendly voice.

4. What one piece of advice would you give to other organisations to get through these tricky times?

Don’t neglect your staff. It can be easy to forget that employees need support too, working from home can have its own challenges especially for those used to the office environment. I suggest keeping contact and having regular informal staff meetings along with any necessary formal ones.

 

The International Conference Organiser

Brian JennerBrian Jenner is Director of the European Speechwriter Network.  He organises international conferences and training for people who write speeches for politicians and business leaders.

1. How is lockdown 2.0 impacting on your organisation?

There were some signs of recovery for me in August. When we started wearing masks and having a rule of six, that was snuffed out. Lockdown just delays recovery.

2. Are you having to make any adjustments within the organisation due to lockdown 2.0?

I organise international conferences. There is not much prospect of them returning until 2022. I’ve got to find a new way of earning a living.

3. Are there areas of your organisation that are busier than usual? Why do you think this is?

No. None.

4. What one piece of advice would you give to other organisations to get through these tricky times?

Keep good accounts. Write to your MP and lobby to end lockdowns.

 

The Clinical Therapist

Julia Cuttelle from The Active Healthcare PracticeJulia Cuttelle is Founder of Dorset-based The Active Healthcare Practice, providing a unique blend of sports & clinical therapy services for every body.

1. How is lockdown 2.0 impacting on your organisation?

Lockdown 2.0 has been very different to the first lockdown, when my industry wasn’t allowed to work. We’ve made a lot of headway since the first lockdown, in having our industry recognised by Parliament as a healthcare service, and this time we have been allowed to continue working to provide essential treatments. Back, neck and shoulder pain are unquestionably on the increase due to stress and working from home, so it’s actually busier than ever in clinic at the moment. It was awful during the first lockdown knowing that my clients were struggling with painful issues and not being able to help them with hands on treatment, so I’m relieved that people are being encouraged to continue to seek help for medical treatment throughout lockdown 2.0.

2. Are you having to make any adjustments within the organisation due to lockdown 2.0?

I haven’t really had to make any adjustments to the services that I provide, as we had already implemented rigid COVID prevention protocols to be able to treat people in a close contact environment after the first lockdown. We have increased the availability of virtual services with zoom stretch classes with the aim of pain prevention.

3. Are there areas of your organisation that are busier than usual? Why do you think this is?

I’m definitely busier than usual. With many people not being able to go to the gym during lockdown 2.0 and also working from home with sometimes far from ideal desk set ups, musculoskeletal pain complaints have really increased, and prevention is always my first goal. There’s also a general increase in stress levels. We’ve all been living with months of uncertainty and worry about COVID19 and it’s really taking its toll on people’s bodies. Lockdown and change of work patterns have interfered with people’s fitness or activity routines, eating habits, working patterns and our bodies are struggling to play catch up. It’s manifesting in a huge spike in back pain and neck and shoulder problems.

4. What one piece of advice would you give to other organisations to get through these tricky times?

Having a good email newsletter to clients has been essential, keeping them informed and connected, letting them know that we are here for them if they need us, informing them of our COVID safety measures and also letting them know what we’ve been up to over the last few months if they’re not regular visitors. It’s also been great working with Emma [from Mushroom Marketing & PR] on our marketing to sound out ideas for the future and use quiet times (because there have been some) productively to build up an audience. When you run a small business and you’re busy, there often isn’t enough time to really get these marketing strategies organised, so I’ve used the quiet time to get that in place and invest in the business’ future.

 

The HR Consultant

Janell White of Trinity HRJanell White is Managing Director of Trinity HR an outsourced, independent HR Consultancy, working across a variety of industry sectors and with businesses of all sizes, across the UK.

1. How is lockdown 2.0 impacting on your organisation?

It’s been a busy year for Trinity HR that’s for sure and lockdown 2.0 continues to keep us challenged but inspired. For many of our Clients, their HR Teams in particular have been at the centre of the rapid response required due to COVID-19 whilst also playing a critical role in keeping the workforce informed, engaged, productive and resilient.

At Trinity HR, lockdown 2.0 continues with us supporting business leaders with the legalities of redundancy and restructuring processes within their workplaces as well as wading through the ever changing Coronavirus Job Retention and other government support schemes. We have also seen an increase in Employers becoming increasingly focused on the resilience and wellbeing of their people. This has resulted in Employers investigating how they can continue to support Employees and Managers with aspects such as mental health and absence from work, rapidly upskilling Managers to manage remote teams, as well as how they facilitate remote working longer term (and for some permanently).

2. Are you having to make any adjustments within the organisation due to lockdown 2.0?

The pandemic has certainly changed the way our Clients are working and managing their operations. This has also required Trinity HR to adapt and pivot. Although we largely support our Clients remotely and have good systems and processes to facilitate this, we have had to focus on prioritising urgent and important matters for our business as well as for our Clients. Aspects such as complying with new and changing legislation to reduce risks to health, safety and wellbeing as well as complying with new and existing legislation has been a priority.

3. Are there areas of your organisation that are busier than usual? Why do you think this is?

In the last quarter, business restructures, redundancies and changing terms and conditions of employment (such as changes to roles, changes to salaries and benefits) have taken precedence for many of our Clients. For some of our larger Clients, we have been supporting them with aspects such as facilitating team workshops around individual and team motivation and managing and supporting remote teams. It is also interesting that as the uncertainty of the pandemic continues and people are being required to be more flexible and productive in new and changing roles and work environments, business leaders are becoming less tolerant of poor performance and behavioural issues, which previously were ignored or tolerated.

4. What one piece of advice would you give to other organisations to get through these tricky times?

If you lead or manage people, keep in touch with your people and ensure they feel supported and informed. Human beings do not cope well with uncertainty and silence from leaders/managers will only exacerbate levels of anxiety, impact morale and motivation. People will understand that you may not have all the answers, but now more than ever, they want to see and hear from their line managers and leaders in the business. Look after your people and they will look after you and your business.

 

The Ecommerce Expert

Jamie Derrick, MD at JD LtdJamie Derrick is Managing Director of JD, an ecommerce digital agency based in Bournemouth. JD designs, builds and optimises world class ecommerce websites while using insights gained from clients to develop Shopify Apps to improve efficiency.

1. How is lockdown 2.0 impacting on your organisation?

Barely at all. It’s nothing compared to the first lockdown when I was admittedly a ball of panic at the start. The only difference is that we’re back to 100% home working but we’re very used to it and we were only back in the office 1 day a week anyway.

2. Are you having to make any adjustments within the organisation due to lockdown 2.0?

Nope. We’re still on the same course we set upon during the first lockdown.

3. Are there areas of your organisation that are busier than usual? Why do you think this is?

Over the last couple of years we started to specialise in Shopify ecommerce and during the first lockdown it seemed everyone wanted to take their business online with Shopify, so we were in a very fortunate position. The second lockdown coincides with Black Friday and the build up to Christmas. So we’re definitely seeing the ecommerce side of our business far busier than usual.

4. What one piece of advice would you give to other organisations to get through these tricky times?

Take this time as an opportunity to look at why this time is so tricky for your business and what changes you can make that you probably would have been too afraid to make when things were comfortable and normal. As an agency, we have the classic feast and famine problem and lockdown number one certainly brought the real prospect of famine. We’re now focussing more on our subscription model apps for Shopify to secure a more predictable monthly revenue stream. I’ve always wanted to do it, the first lockdown forced me to actually do it.

Summary

Emma Estridge, Director of Mushroom Marketing & PR It is apparent from the comments above that Lockdown 2.0 has affected businesses in very different ways. Some are able to adapt in terms of their delivery of services. Whilst others are stuck within the confines of government guidelines, needing to make bigger changes to their business models to move forward.

Most of the organisations above already put practical measures in place during the first lockdown, so the impact wasn’t so big this time around. One thing for sure is that every single business needs to put measures in place to combat any further potential major business interruptions. This could be adding an ecommerce element (essentially productising their service), or creating a remote/ online working option.  That, however, can be more difficult for the sectors that are hardest hit, such as retail, hospitality, travel and tourism.

In summary, there are some powerful nuggets of advice from the organisations above:

  1. communicate – keep levels high both externally and with staff
  2. keep a keen eye on cashflow
  3. have robust marketing plans in place
  4. view Lockdown as an opportunity to review your business and make changes, even if they are out of your comfort zone

Article compiled by Emma Estridge, Founder of Mushroom Marketing & PR.  Contact me for a free 1 hour consultation to discuss how to take your business to the next level.

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