The working day in the UK changed almost two weeks ago. Probably forever.
I am old enough to have worked through three recessions, but I can honestly say that the week ending 27th March was the toughest week of my working life.
Listening to clients of 25 years in tears because their business has gone from a £5million turnover to zero overnight is tough, especially when I am used to offering advice and helping people to find a way but at that time I couldn’t help and that was hard for me to bear.
Thankfully things are clearer now, and I feel as though I can add value, but we all know that access to funds for some is not as easy as people think. Whatever the Government try to do, it will take time. Some businesses do not have that time.
For us as a firm the changes are huge and although we are well equipped to work from home it is not the same as being in the office with the camaraderie that goes with that environment.
Key to us is servicing clients and offering advice but we have already seen the demand for some of our services slow down as businesses simply cut back to survive. This trend will undoubtedly continue, and I had the task of furloughing some of our team this week which was not easy. They completely understood and were very gracious. That made the task that much harder!
Teams, Zoom, Skype and 12 hour-plus days have been the order of the day and has worked well in the main, but feels far removed from the usual working environment.
Our teams have been fantastic in keeping up-to-date with what’s available for business, which seems to change every day. We are assisting our clients in many ways but keeping on top of demand is an obvious challenge. Cashflow management and clear messages to the wider team is the order of the day for all businesses.
I have been in touch with many professional contacts and it is clear that banking professionals are really under the cosh with limited resources to meet the massive demand.
I keep reminding myself that clear leadership is key and to me that means doing what is necessary when it is necessary.
Some feel the need to pass around every bit of COVID-19 related information available which are simply repeats of the last piece of information. We are in danger of paralysis by analysis. Remaining positive when you don’t really feel it is essential as negativity is contagious and that affects our business as well as the Government.
The times that we are in bring out the best and worst in people. I know as an MD how difficult the last two weeks have been. Imagine being the PM. Whatever you think of Government they will be doing their utmost to manage us through the crisis and I really wish that the press would stop picking at the same points over and over – this simply generates negativity.
Finally, a word for the wonderful people in all our services, not just the NHS. They are currently going above and beyond, and I hope that they remain safe and that we all continue to do our bit by socially distancing.