Wow, what a year 2020 has been, so far… I feel myself taking a deep breath and reflecting on the intensity of it, just as I write that. It has been just over 6 months since the world went into lockdown and the way we work and interact with each other changed overnight. We went from working in a bustling and energy filled office, to a fully virtual workplace. Something that for us, turned out to be a very smooth transition. In part, as we host everything in the cloud and everyone has laptops, but especially because we have a strong culture of trust, and that has played very well for us in adapting quickly and effectively.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented test for companies, governments and families in almost every corner of the earth. As business leaders, we have worked tirelessly to make the decisions that we feel are in the best interest of the company and the individuals that we are ultimately responsible for. As much as we liked to think we’re pretty good, we’re far from perfect. The response we’ve had from the team has been amazing and we feel humbled to lead such a great group of people. A group that is actually growing, as we’ve hired some fantastic people during lockdown. We’ve attracted some awesome people into each of our London, New York and Nashville offices, set up new desks and moved into new markets. We took a very early decision to accelerate our plans to build out a Germany team, pivoting some of the existing team onto the region, which has gathered some great momentum and offers us wider leverage across the business.
Wayne and I both worked through the financial crisis of 2008 and we proved then, that despite such desperate times, there is opportunity for people and businesses that are able to step up and provide a top-level service. We’ve found ways to do that during this pandemic and that is in large due to the team’s ability to identify those opportunities, demonstrating a hunger and desire to ensure we’re pivoting our energy in the right direction. We have to brave with those decisions, but they haven’t all proved positive and we’ve been decisive in recognising when we need to pull back and move on. We’ve spent years developing relationships with our clients and we are so pleased that we’ve been able to further develop those long-standing relationships, as well as engage and develop new clients.
We’ve had some very tough decisions to make and we took the decision early on, to ensure we provide consistent and clear communication to the team. We’ve had a global company wide video call every week and that has given us a platform to give everyone a direct insight into the decisions we’ve made. Not just the fact that someone may be leaving the business, or going onto furlough, but also our logic in why we think it’s the right decision for everyone. Whilst we’ve always had an open dialogue with the team, this information is more than the wider team would have had in the past and we hope has further increased the engagement and trust in our decisions, even if at first they may not agree.
Together with the management team, we’ve pained over some of the decisions we’ve had to make, as we value every single person we work with. If we could offer any advice, it would be to be decisive (without knee jerking) and try to be clear and consistent in your message to everyone in the team.
Prior to COVID hitting, we were fortunate enough to have had a strong start to the year, but that led straight into our worst ever new business month (relative to our size) in April. That was a pivotal moment, as individuals we each had a decision to make; carry on doing what we’re doing, or up the level of application and intensity and show we can work through this together. The month of May ended up being one of our biggest ever months of new business and we’re very proud of our collective ability to achieve that level of success. You have to assume that there is always someone out there willing to do more, never more so than in a time of intense uncertainty.
We hold an incredibly high level of expectation for ourselves and simply put, we expect success, but without comprising our standards on the journey to get there. One of our many learns from this situation, has been for us to take time to appreciate what success looks like and to understand that without the smaller wins we couldn’t have the bigger successes.
We’re also working hard to develop our online engagement and when many have pulled back completely, we took the decision to double down on our efforts to produce original content, creating blog series, delivering virtual events and formalising new meaningful partnerships. The feedback has exceeded our expectations and we’re really proud of the cool stuff we’re putting out there. Keep an eye out, as there’s plenty more to come!
We’ve just moved our London office to a better space in the city, which among other things comes complete with a huge rooftop, (just in time for the end of summer!). We’ve moved our Nashville office across town, to a better space and are currently on the lookout for a cool new space in New York. Whilst we have the office spaces accessible to all, we now have an indefinite flexible working policy, allowing people to work from home and spend valuable time with each other in the office…it’s all about trying to strike a good balance to ensure we’re at our optimum.
Wayne and I have ultimate responsibility for the decisions, but it’s the hunger and desire of all the team that will ensure we come out of this pandemic, not just surviving, but thriving. We’re not out of the woods, far from it, and as we live with this current normal, we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing, setting goals, improving and learning.
In years to come everyone will look back and reflect on where they were during the COVID pandemic and how it affected them, both professionally and personally. We’d like everyone to remember the amazing group of people we have, the power of a group of people chasing a common goal and the challenges and successes we shared together. Hopefully, that story resonates with others and we can continue to get some more excellent people to come along for the ride. After all, life is all about stories!