Think3 Surviving COVID-19
27th Apr 2020
COVID-19 is a life-threatening, infectious disease that has had devastating effects across the world. Over 4 weeks ago, the UK Government made the hard decision to bring the UK into lockdown, to minimise the risk of the virus spreading.
Although this drastic step was needed to protect our community, the UK Lockdown has caused low morale, business closures, financial concerns and affected the futures of GCSE and A-Level students, due to exam cancellations.
A report from the Financial Times has stated that COVID-19 has shut down a quarter of UK businesses and more than half a million companies have reported being in ‘significant’ distress. So, how has the CoronaVirus affected think3?
A country in lockdown
On 23rd March 2020, we all met at the office to discuss think3’s next step, as we knew lockdown was coming. As we are a design agency, we are fortunate enough to be able to work from home, but this doesn’t mean it has come without its complications.
One of our central values at think3 is Family, so it was essential for us all to voice our concerns to one another regarding COVID-19’s impact on us personally, as well as professionally. It was interesting to hear what each of our team members had to say. Whereas some were worried about the safety of their family, others were anxious to be isolated for an extended period. Although we may not have all the answers, opening up about our worries helped us to find new ideas and release anxiety through constructive advice and by simply being there for each other.
After taming our concerns, we jumped into action. The only safe option was for us all to work from our own homes. We immediately gathered all our belongings, Lee grabbed the plants, and we left. Those who could drive gave those who can’t a lift home, as watching Jack try to get on a bus with two computer monitors would be funny, but hardly practical.
Did someone say
As I’m sure many people would agree, Week One was almost exciting. We started Day One with a virtual team meeting, through Google Hangouts and discussed our plans for the day. This became our regular routine, with 3 sessions a day to ensure everyone was okay, and tasks were in hand.
To keep up morale, we also started doing a Think3 Quiz on Friday evenings, with one team member being the Quiz Master each week. Currently, I (Mamie) am at the bottom of the scoreboard…but watch this space, I have plenty of time to catch up.
Week Three saw a drop in motivation and a slip in productivity. Although we have still never missed a deadline, our meetings became less target focused, and communication across teams decreased. Luckily, we have a proactive team of owners who managed to catch the problem before it happened. We had noticed that our daily video conferences with the team had become less structured and productive than what had been the case in previous weeks, we all know by now that working from home is undoubtedly difficult. We asked ourselves as a team of 8 why shouldn’t we be able to produce as much, if not more work than when we were in the office? It was at that point we realised that we needed to add much more structure and passion into each of our days as it is easy during this period at home floating from one task to the next with no real purpose
Adapt and change
Since this is new for us all, we inevitably needed to take a trial and error approach. After three weeks in isolation, we decided it was time to review our time so far and discuss our achievements, fallbacks and goals when working from home.
All 8 of us had a frank and open discussion that gave us real clarity on what could be improved. Team members voiced that they would like more guidance, more regular communication, and simply needed some motivation to boost mid-week. This helped us prepare for the next 3 weeks of lockdown and gave us some strong actions moving forward.
We all had to be reminded not to push ourselves too hard and that it is essential to have regular breaks. We need to give ourselves time to change from one project to another so that attention to detail is maximised. We also reiterated that we should never be afraid to ask for help; we are a team and will always be there to support one another with motivation, family struggles or work barriers. We have now also introduced more structured daily meetings that designate tasks and deadlines to the appropriate team members and are utilising online software to create collaborative to-do lists that everyone can see. Most importantly, we will carry on doing the Think3 Quiz…until we can go to the pub on Friday evenings instead.
Our new approach – structure is key
From our meeting on Friday, it was apparent that some tweaks needed to be made for the team to be working more effectively and efficiently. At a time like this, structure and communication felt like the two key areas to focus on. Mastering these during the lockdown, allows us to work faster, smarter and most importantly, collaboratively. A quick presentation to the team, we announced that we’ve brought back our Monday morning ‘What’s On?’ session for everyone to share what their week had in store. A fun GIF filled start presentation and discussion to kick the week off, as well as introducing ‘Reflective Fridays’ focussed on self-assessment and the positives achieved throughout the week. Most importantly, we’ve created a daily structure for everyone to follow, ensuring those key areas, structure and communication are ticked, and as a team, we’re back to kicking ass!
Although there have been struggles with this new way of working, positives have emerged too. Not only has lockdown given us a stronger workforce relationship, but our team has also learned new methods and techniques that will only strengthen think3 and personal abilities. Because we can’t simply ask each other questions like we can in the office, we have had to use our own initiative to solve problems and improve our work. We have also noticed skills within our team that we didn’t know were there before, like with Tom, whose main role is graphic design. Tom has been doing aspects of Web Development to support Jack and expand his own personal knowledge. This benefits both Tom and the wider business, as we can now utilise this skill when needed.
An opportunity to grow and be better
After all is said and done, think3 will get through this. We have made it our mission to learn, adapt and grow from the UK lockdown, and I know we will be back better than ever once we are back to our regular routine. Think3 is still currently learning and working on how best to approach projects and daily work life during this awful time, and we will continue to learn and grow as a team to overcome these challenges.
Yes, we are going to have days that are slightly more or less productive, and that’s okay. As long as we continue to communicate effectively as a team, making sure that everyone from the top down has full transparency and can ask for help when they need it. Open and Honest communication is what we feel will pull us through these trying times. Talk to your team about what you think has gone well this week, what you are pleased about and what you could have done better. If there is something that you haven’t been able to get around to this week make sure you are communicating that with the team as there will no doubt be someone there who can pick that up for you and share the workload.
The only advice we can give you during this pandemic is to take every day at a time. There is no right answer on how to cope during a crisis, and as long as you are following Government guidelines and have plans in place post-COVID, you are doing fine. So stay positive, stay healthy, and stay home.