It’s difficult to grasp that one year on from the initial Covid-19 lockdown we are still in a lockdown. As we all navigate the next few months (and years), and come to terms with the new normal, I thought I would review what positive tips and experiences I and Prism the Gift Fund, as a charity, could contribute from the challenges of the last year.
Remain structured and although a team needs flexibility within their working day, the office day still runs 9am-5.30pm.
In the charitable sector, the rules and regulations of the Charity Commission remain in force. That means that governance, compliance and due diligence all continue and must remain robust and core to any operational charity. Don’t think because of Covid, we can relax processes. Maintain robust processes and put in place what is necessary to ensure systems work remotely. Will we return to an office full time? If not, the remote working systems will need to be in place for the long haul.
Why do companies think they can use Covid as an excuse to deliver poor or non existent customer service? Emails are not returned, or people may take weeks to respond, phone lines are not diverted. How many times have you gone through a whole voicemail numbering system to find at the end of it all, you cannot leave a message and there is no human to talk to? There is no excuse and certainly not a year on with the world living in semi or full lockdown. Maintain strong customer service levels. Look after your clients. Those companies that do so will certainly have a better chance of survival.
People are feeling vulnerable in many ways. If you have a team, find ways of supporting them, and communicating with them. This doesn’t have to cost a company a huge amount. Regular calls, team zoom meetings, little gifts from Amazon occasionally, a friend who can run a mindfulness session are ways that staff within a company can feel more supported. Two sessions that particularly resonated with me were a mindfulness session and an art hour conducted over Zoom with the whole Prism team. During the mindfulness session, the team genuinely felt supported and that they were sharing something with each other even though it was virtual. It was a great way to end the week with a happy and relaxed team. For the second session, we analysed a piece of art from the National Gallery. Sections of the picture were gradually revealed until the full painting, in all its glory, was displayed on my computer screen. There were no right answers, just different and interesting contributions from the team members. This really energised the group and was just time away from the normal pressures of calls and emails and a way of ‘talking’ to one another.
No one knows at this point quite what the future holds or the timing of that future. Therefore, as a company it’s going to be important to be flexible, think laterally, show entrepreneurial solutions. Are there additional or different services that a company can offer? Are there opportunities to be considered as opposed to threats? Think positively and try and be solution driven.
And finally, one of my quotes that I love to use from Ethics of the Fathers: ‘You are not required to complete the work, but nor should you desist from it’. And that means don’t use Covid-19 as a reason not to contribute, work, or engage with work and society.
Anna Josse is CEO of Prism the Gift Fund