Week 1 – Moving home.
Like so many clients, neighbours and friends, we decided to work remotely, to avoid contact as much as possible, leaving the office looking deserted. And here is the new office set up for the team at the end of the first week. We all traded our spacious office desks for a new smaller spot working at home. Time to create a bit of space in the house that we can dedicate temporarily, so that we can continue to serve our clients.
We already had an article in our Blog called Working Remotely – Communicating Digitally – see here for our tips. This week we have taken our own advice from that very article. See the image of our empty office desks and quiet office. Then see the new set up in the various Living Rooms at our homes. Complete with a backboard to try to look businesslike and to avoid distractions when talking with clients on camera in Zoom or Skype calls. We can do podcasts and webinars using Zoom and Webex.
So far it is working well. We are keeping up with client requests for website updates and doing the website support on existing client websites. New projects are moving along pretty much on time and we have had no real down time. The urgency of getting people online asap is focusing our minds on work we can do to be of service.
Michael is in his living room with his Leaving Cert student sitting at the next desk, a Queens college student in the room next door watching his online lectures and a daughter in the guest room working away online. One other son is in the USA and hunkering down at college, off campus, attending online lectures.
Senior Developer, John Rainey is at home in his living room balancing life with two year old Kaitlin and all the stresses of keeping his extended family safe from COVID19. This is Priority Number 1.
Edel is set up in the kitchen – her choice, managing finances. From there, in the hub of the house, she can work away and prepare food for all five people.
Marketing Maven Maryann McDonnell is using the actual actual Office itself. She says she has solitude and peace, but is not talking with visitors – although to be fair, people are not out much. She is busy helping clients with posting COVID messages and new content and managing our our own posts and communications.
However the phones are buzzing, so they need attention. Everyone wants to get online FAST. There is a realisation that in future a lot more business will be done online.
Graphic Designer Janine was already working from home, so her creativity was responsible for the quick response graphics we are using here.
Damien is also used to working from home and ensuring that website support is done for our support plan clients. So they were already set up and ready to respond to the urgency of the current challenge.
Most of our current clients are working away behind closed doors. Or they are on the front line and very busy. People like Clare Ryan at ITUS Tech are out setting up Home offices for dozens of companies. Or TFS Ireland cleaning and managing logistics for local businesses. Our MLMG Accountants are helping local businesses manage the implications of new COVID Government supports for them and their staff. Advice First advising worried homeowner lenders. Simple Simons and Donegal Natural Soap are managing customers needs through their online shops.
Sarah at RINKA has responded amazingly with her Fitness for Kids programmes by delivering online via Facebook Live at rinkaireland. See Sandra and 7 year old AJ every morning at 9.00 am. They have children and parents doing fun exercises together and young AJ has his own fanbase as thousands of people log on to see him. RINKA share loads of games to play indoors. This local initiative is entertaining thousands of people nationally. It is a stand out example of making things work.
For the grown ups, Denise Diver over at Integral Therapy has also gone online using Facebook Live to deliver Yoga and Mindfulness clases at Home Wellbeing Practices.
Some of our clients are taking the new found time to get ready for when this is all over. They are busy planning for the next phase. And that phase will come too, piecing everything back together again. Creating content, getting videos and photos done, looking at website design and hosting and reviewing their own tech set up. And they are planning their advertising strategies, the tactics and best options.
And some Clients have had to take the hard decision to close up for the foreseeable future, until it is safe to get their people back in action again. This is a tough decision, but one that is made mostly in a pragmatic way. Close now and be ready to reopen, prepared for the onslaught to follow.
Some Charity clients are in limbo, waiting to see how people are affected and how that will affect them in turn. Donations may be down considerably and it will be hard to deliver in-person services. It is too early to tell, but we are seeing a lot of generosity of spirit in the community, so they may well be some positive efects in the long run. Again these Charities are looking at delivering content and services online, with advice and phone support.
However, the prevailing feeling, is one a sense of unity. We are all in this together. It affects us all. How often does that ever happen. Truthfully, the business is the least of our problems. Keeping families, staff and neighbours safe is what is of over-riding importance. This is the focus for everyone. Social Distancing, staying at home, being possibly even being locked down and trying not to catch or spread this virus.
CEO at Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce Toni Forrester is keeping business informed about Government initiatives and general business news. She also set up a WhatsApp group for local business owners called Support Local Donegal. With dozens of members already, people are sharing tips, advice, news and initiatives like #thisbusinessispersonal where Fiona Murphy from Citadel Gymnastics asked that members be encouraging for other business people, to help each other and stay connected. Local members are explaining how they are operating, whether is is Pats Pizza offering a limited service or FM Cleaning offering decontamination services. Local businesses are adapting to the changed environment and ensuring that services are delivered and food keeps getting to people. Our local Donegal Business Network started doing their weekly meeting online using Zoom. It worked very well and allowed members join in from home. The meetings are open to visitors, any company doing business in Donegal, at 8.00 am every Wednesday morning. The first meeting had very positive results for the people who attended. Where some members saw roadblocks, others saw ways around them. Getting the input of a dozen other business heads was such a great start to the day. It helped reframe challenges and spot opportunities.
After the end of the first working week in voluntary lockdown we have created the space to work, to carry on, to help others and to prepare for the coming months. As of today Friday it is impossible to say what Week 2 will bring for all of us.
How have you managed in the past week. Have you got a new normal? Can you work on? Do you need help? Can you offer help? What does your new workspace look like? By all means share and show how you are innovating. Or share your experience, especially if it can help others.
In Donegal we tend to say that ‘Up here is Different’, but maybe now it is not so much so. Around the country other towns and counties are experiencing the same challenges. Up here it might be easier to be locked down than bigger cities. But the spirit will be the same and we will see the ingenuity and generosity of our people, as they face this challenge together.
#stayapartstaywell #letterkennychamber #thisbusinessispersonal #COVID19 #SelfIsolationHelp #coronavirus
See COVIDiary Week 2 here when we publish next week.