Returning to BAU

I’ve been talking to lots of clients this week about their plans and thoughts for business as usual and we’ve all agreed that it will look very different to pre COVID-19.

The concerns that many businesses previously had about trusting staff to work from home have been disproven, in the main, and this has also highlighted that for many sectors, flexible working is not only possible, but better for the business and for productivity overall.

I’m interested in how your business is thinking about returning to work. Some may be returning imminently, whilst others are likely to have a slower return.

I’m encouraging my clients to think about:

• Resource planning
• Recruitment and selection
• Onboarding and L&D generally
• Performance Management
• Engagement and celebrating success
• Equipment – Health and Safety and Ergonomics
• Risk Assessments

We’ll be writing and sharing some posts on these in the next couple of weeks – let me know in the comments if there are any other areas that would be useful for us to cover as you plan your own return to business.

Furloughed? Novelty worn off? Here are some ideas for your time…

We’ve never experienced a mass-furlough like this before. In fact, until a few weeks ago, most of us didn’t even know what it was! But now, hundreds of thousands of people across the UK are at home, not working and not able to do anything that promotes or sustains their business.
So what can you do with your time? Here’s our list of work and personal things you could do:

  1. Join some free webinars – they can help you stay fresh in terms of work ideas and skills.
  2. Relax – now’s a good time to really relax if you can. It’s good for your physical and mental health. Check out the National Gallery’s virtual tours.
  3. Volunteer – if you’d like to get out and about more, why not volunteer to drive or help with a local charity? The NCVO has lots of advice.
  4. Spend time with family and friends – in your house or over the internet, keeping in touch helps boost your spirits.
  5. Spruce up your CV – you might not be thinking of moving jobs, but now is still a good time to update your experience, results and training.
  6. Think about career moves – where would you like to be this time next year? How can you get there? Read this advice from about preparing for a promotion interview.
  7. Be active – exercise, brain games, X-boxing with the kids, new skills or just clearing out the loft, staying active helps the days to pass.
    There’s lots to add to this list. If you’re furloughed, what are you doing to pass the time, or to prepare for getting back to work?


We’re into the fourth week of lockdown. How are you feeling?

It wouldn’t be surprising if you’re tired of seeing the same four walls, or missing the spontaneity of lunch with your work colleagues or a cheeky mid-week meal out.

In fact, we’ll all need a fair bit of resilience to keep us going over the next few weeks. Fortunately, resilience isn’t a talent that you either have or don’t have – it’s a way of helping yourself through difficult or stressful times, and we can all do it.

Your body – eat as healthily as you can, get some exercise and make sure you sleep.

Your mind – take a break from your tasks and get some fresh air, listen to your favourite playlist, read a book, engage with your family and friends.

Your attitude – try not to be too hard on yourself or others. Give yourself a break and don’t expect too much in these tricky circumstances. And appreciate that others may be struggling too.

Your communication – share your worries and problems with others. You’ll find they are often shared, and that you feel better for having spoken them out loud.

How are you approaching the Easter break?

Easter’s going to be a bit surreal this year – no holidays, no travelling to family, no sunny days out, no Easter Egg hunts in the park.
But it’s still a four-day break and we should treat it as such – even if we’re furloughed or not working at the moment.

Traditionally, it’s a long weekend that we all look forward to. So let’s try not to make an exception this year. If you can, you should still have a celebratory meal or barbecue or hot cross bun fest. If you can, you should do an Easter Egg hunt indoors or in your garden if you have one. Why not dress up, put on some music and have a party? Why not do those little DIY jobs and garden work that a bank holiday weekend is made for?

Why not make the most of your community? Alongside your rainbows and teddy bears, why not put an Easter Egg or Easter Bunny drawing in your window so people can spot them on their daily exercise? Why not catch up with your neighbours from the safety of your doorstep? Why not watch a film marathon?

Just because our lives – for most of us – are spent at home at the moment, it doesn’t follow that this weekend stops being a holiday or a time to relax and reflect. For your mental and physical wellbeing, try to do at least one thing that feels special.
And for those amazing people who are working all their Easter weekends to keep us safe, to look after our needs, to deliver our food and to keep the country running, may you have an absolutely fantastic late Easter-and-all-the-holidays break when your time comes.

The A-Z of Positivity!

A is for Attitude – even if you’re having a low day, count five positive things in your life. Write them down, tell them to someone or just list them in your head. You don’t need to be dancing round the kitchen every day to have a positive attitude.

B is for Boosting – try giving some positive feedback to the people around you: your family, your work colleagues, the postman, the guy delivering your online shopping. It’s amazing how much difference ‘thank you’ or ‘I think you’re doing a great job’ can make.

C is for Calm – this is a uniquely stressful time. Just 5 minutes of sitting still with your eyes closed, slow breathing and relaxing your body can refresh your thinking and get you through the next stage of the day.

D is for Doing – whether you’re struggling to motivate yourself to work or just to get off the sofa, break your tasks down into small chunks. This helps you to get through things a bit at a time, so you feel you’ve made progress without being overwhelmed.

E is for Exercise – you might be limited to going out once a day, but make the most of that time to get in some much-needed exercise. A walk is fine; enjoy the fresh air and the quieter places around you. And if you can, perhaps do some additional exercise at home. There are plenty of people offering free online classes for you to join.

F is for Feelings – it’s perfectly fine to let yourself feel a range of emotions. We are all going through a lot of changes in a short time. There’s plenty to be concerned about, and lots of pressure. Acknowledging that you feel scared, worried, stressed or upset is an important step. Use our Attitude tip to remind you of the good things around you.

G is for Genuine – both you and your business need to be authentic during this period. Of course, that’s something you should strive for all the time, but it’s particularly important now. People are remembering which businesses have behaved well and which have not. Be transparent and honest about what you are doing and why – to your customers, to your teams and to your suppliers.

H is for Healthy – it’s obvious, but important! Eating well, drinking water, cutting back on alcohol and getting good exercise and rest will help to keep both your body and mind healthy during this period.

I is for Inquisitive – is this a good time to learn something new? Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? You have the benefit now of having some time to develop a new skill or hone a talent that’s been set aside while you get on with life.

J is for Juggling – not circus tricks (although see ‘Inquisitive’ above!) but your time. If you are working alongside care responsibilities for children or parents; or are trying to manage teams remotely, you can feel like you have too many balls in the air. A simple list and dividing your time during the day can help you to keep on top of things.

K is for Kids – managing holidays is often a challenge for parents, never mind school time, lessons and a lockdown. But you can learn a lot from your kids if you just ask. They’ll tell you how things are run at school, they’ll teach you new technology tricks and they’ll make you laugh.

L is for Laughter – it’s important to laugh, whether you’re with people or on your own. Families and friends are getting together for games nights and quizzes over video calls; comedians are live-streaming their sets; colleagues are getting together for lunchtime quizzes or Friday night catch-ups. Stay sociable and stay happy.

M is for Meetings – you’ll be having lots of conference calls and video meetings right now. Being on camera all the time is much more stressful than being in a face-to-face meeting, so try, if you can, to limit the number of video meetings you have each day – or limit the time spent at each meeting. Have an agenda and someone running the meeting, so that they are productive, and only invite the people who really need to be there.

N is for Neighbour – staying at home means getting to know your street a bit better, even if it’s from a safe distance. Across the UK, neighbours have been shopping for each other, calling people in isolation to give them some company, putting rainbows and teddy bears in the window and even joining in with singing, dance and exercise. This is when you discover what a great community you are part of.

O is for Outside – if you have a back yard, a garden, a patio, get out every hour or so for 5 minutes, unless the weather really doesn’t allow it. Take in the peace and quiet, get some big lungfuls of fresh air, stretch your neck, arms and shoulders. If you don’t have an outside space, make use of your daily outdoor time to do the same. Look for new growth on the trees, listen out for the birds – it’s surprising how much is going on in the natural world around you.

P is for Pomodoro – this is a  great technique to help manage your productivity during the day. It’s named after a kitchen timer that’s shaped like a tomato (‘pomodoro’ in Italian). Simply list the tasks you have to do during the day, and then set your timer to 25 minutes and start your task. After the time is up, either cross your task off your list if you’ve completed it, or just take a 2-3 minute break. Then re-set the timer and get back to your task or start a new one. Taking a break every 25 minutes helps to keep you focused and makes the day fly by!

Q is for Questions – working remotely means that you can’t just ask questions of colleagues in the same way you do in an office. To make everyone’s lives easier, either schedule a daily call or video chat where everyone can catch up and ask or answer questions, or make a list so that you can email questions in one go rather than going backwards and forwards on email.

R is for Relaxing – it’s important to build some relaxation into your day. This means different things for different people. For some, it’s gardening; for others, it’s reading. Others may be happiest watching a box set or doing some exercise or catching up with friends. Do whatever works for you.

S is for Structure – if you’re working from home, it’s important to still have some structure to your day. Set a start and finish time for your day, and work out a routine that matches your household needs and circumstances. Try and find somewhere quiet to work, or set up a workstation that’s clearly your ‘zone’. It’s surprising how much we rely on the structure of a normal working day, and keeping to it will help you to manage your time and stay productive.

T is for Thinking – give yourself some time to think. If you’re a business owner or manager, you’ll need to be thinking about how to manage this situation for your business and your staff. If you’re a team member, you need to think about what you can learn from this experience that might change the way you work in the future. One of the struggles with remote working is that we feel we have to be ‘working’ the whole time. But, if your organisation trusts you to get your work done, you can also spend time on the parts of your business that need a little thought, but that you rarely get the time to think about.

U is for Understanding – giving and receiving understanding is a powerful thing. You and your team are dealing with a completely new set of circumstances, and a little understanding goes a long way. If you’re a leader, now is the time to share your own concerns and situation so that your people can see what you’re dealing with, and let them do the same. It will build better relationships for the point where you are back in your ‘normal’ environment.

V is for Vision – is now the time to think about how your business could change its ways of working? To learn something about the potential benefits of working remotely, or not travelling to the office every day? Perhaps it’s given you the opportunity to think about the bits of your business that you could develop more or change to make more effective?

W is for Working – if you’re working, either at home or for an essential service, look after yourself. If you’re furloughed and you can, why not consider volunteering for the NHS or for a local charity that needs your help? If you unable to work, check your rights to benefits or grants, and look for jobs with those companies that still need workers.

X is always too difficult and results in a random entry in an A-Z list that either doesn’t make sense or isn’t very funny. So our ‘X’ is to say thank you for reading this far!

Y is for Yes! Now may be the time when an unexpected opportunity comes your way. It may be to help out people in your local community who are struggling. It may be to repurpose your business to help the overall effort to defeat the virus. It may be that you get back in touch with people you haven’t spoken to for ages. Saying ‘yes’ to a new opportunity could be the best thing you do.

Z is for Zest – even in the most challenging times, we can find a passion for something. Having a zest for life doesn’t mean you’re always the happiest person in the room; it means you can find something to love, something to enjoy, something to keep you going. It doesn’t matter what that is, although we’d love you to share it with us if you feel like it!