This is our second update around how we are coping with COVID-19 and lockdown. We believe it’s important to continue these going forward to give you some insight into what the pandemic has meant for us individually and as a business.
With some Swans still on furlough and others working from home, we can wholeheartedly say we are still very much a family unit. We strongly believe that the coronavirus has enhanced our culture, made us stronger and helped us to learn even more about each other. We continue to be extremely proud of the way each of the Swans has adapted to the current situation. The level of commitment and engagement we have seen from everyone whilst confronted with their own challenges has been extraordinary to say the least. No matter the individual job role, we are all very much still working together to get the very best results for our clients.
Like everyone, we have adapted to this new way of working and each day brings its own challenges. If you would have asked us in January ‘do you think you can all successfully work from home and maintain your company culture’ then the answer would have very much been no. It is an honour to sit here today, having not been into the nest for little over 3 months, and say that actually yes we can and we are going to use this experience to better ourselves.
Wow, what a 14 weeks it has been. I have laughed, I have cried, and I have learnt a huge amount more, about my colleagues and myself.
When lockdown started, we didn’t know how long it would last and although a number of restrictions have been lifted since the last update, we are still here. I have never been prouder to be Managing Director of Indigo Swan. Our service levels remain of the highest level, we are still helping clients old and new negotiate new and competitive contracts and as a collective we have grown even stronger. I am extremely grateful to all of the Swans during this time. The Swans that are working have never worked harder, smarter or with more enthusiasm and the Swans on Furlough continue to be understanding, engaged and willing to try new things to better themselves for when they return.
During the last few weeks, it has hit me hard. The new normal or what we should now just call normal is here to stay. We will not return to what life was like before, and that’s ok. We have learnt a lot and many positives have come from this time and these experiences. Seeing businesses adapt, innovate and show flexibility during such a challenging period has been amazing to see and the I have been inspired by my colleagues, my peers and the business community alike.
We have all had good days and bad days, but moving forward, working from home or in the office, I know the Swans will continue to provide the very best service, support each other and maintain and enhance our wonderful culture and offering. I am grateful to all our clients, suppliers, friends and family for their support during this time and if you need anything, we are here waiting, with a smile on our face (most days!)
In our last update I talked about how marketing had become very uncertain ground for many businesses with lots of uneasiness around ‘the right thing to do’. Should we sell our products and services? Should we cut budgets? I think it is fair to say that for many marketing was the first to go, which didn’t come as much surprise to all us marketeers out there. At Indigo Swan, we took a different approach, and although yes, budget was cut, campaigns were postponed, we also used this opportunity to find new ways of getting our message out there and maintaining our brand presence. At a time when many businesses stopped their social interactions, put campaigns on hold or stopped producing content we decided to create more than we probably have done before.
We’ve started Swan TV, our new video content series, where we invite guest from the local business community to come and share their lockdown experiences with us, amongst other things. For the first time we also started recording our podcast remotely, which has been lots of fun and I believe something we will continue to do going forward. Excitingly we have organised and run virtual events as well as been involved in others panel discussions and networking groups online. It’s had its ups and downs, of course not everything always goes smoothly but you can’t knock us for not giving it a go! We recognised early on that we wanted to provide interesting, informative, and useful content across lots of different channels. It’s with great pride that I sit here today and say that I think this is something we have achieved and will continue to do so.
I feel very lucky to have been able to continue working throughout the whole of lockdown so far, as I know this isn’t the case for many. I have learnt new skills, tested new technology and pushed myself to use this as an opportunity to better myself and my skillset to help grow Indigo Swan in the future. I have also thoroughly enjoyed watching other businesses flourish and try new things that maybe they haven’t come across before. The way the Norfolk business community has come together to offer support and advice to one another has been like nothing I have seen before. I think we can all be proud of the way our county has stepped up and tackled it head on.
Over 14 weeks in and the “new normal” is starting to emerge. Shops, restaurants and pubs are re-opening, but offices are still mostly remote. 2020 has been a weird year to live through and the impacts of COVID are going to be felt in the economy, the NHS and wider global society for years to come. Businesses that we continue to support are still feeling positive about what the future brings, even if it means radical changes in the ways they operate.
I believe the most positive outcome from COVID is recognition of the importance of the “work/ life balance”, and the fact that most office roles can be successfully completed in non-traditional locations. For the first two months of lockdown I was working out of a converted shed, speaking to clients and signing contracts whilst at the bottom of the garden! I’m fortunate to have space where work and home don’t encroach on one another, and I hope to continue some level of remote working when the Nest does re-open. By reducing the frequency of my 2-hour daily commute I can spend more time in the home that I love, with my Key Worker husband and our wonderful dogs.
Us Swans are a sociable bunch however, so limited face to face contact for such a prolonged period has been a struggle for some. We’ve kept in touch over Teams, Zoom, What’s App and some have even started seeing each other in a responsible, socially distanced way. Re-connecting with people is going to be vital as we emerge from lockdown. Greek philosopher Aristotle said: “man is by nature a social animal”, so we all have the ability to be sociable even if we’re out of practice. Seeing friends, family and colleagues for the first time in over 3 months will be overwhelming for some, especially those who have shielded the entire time. But stick with it! Take sensible precautions to reduce any anxiety and embrace the “new normal” that we’re now living through; it’s going to be this way for a while longer.
Similar to our last update, we want to take this opportunity to thank all our clients, suppliers, and communities for all their help and support so far. Without you we wouldn’t be where we are today. Although we recognise that there has been a fundamental shift in the way we work, our core business values remain the same. We always put happiness first, now more than ever. How we do anything is how we do everything. We have an unflinching commitment to finding a better way and we celebrate individuality. Innovation and creativity have always been what sets us apart, and during these challenging times we couldn’t be prouder to stand together and be the very best versions of ourselves.
James, Jaime and Aimee