Hannah Adams, manager at McBrides Chartered Accountants in Sidcup, shares some of the lessons her team learned in lockdown
Lockdown was stressful for many people and for different reasons, but we got through it in one piece. I am a positive person and like to look at things positively but there are things I wouldn’t do again, such as moving house during lockdown and I won’t ever want to work full-time from home again!
Over the last four months I have learned a lot about the resilience of my team, as well as the things that work well for me and the changes to my old routine that I want to keep as we move forward towards a sort of normal.
1. The cloud really was a revolution
Over the last few years, commentators have referred to ‘cloud solutions’ as a revolution and lockdown helped prove them right. The outsourcing team that I head up at McBrides provided a full service throughout lockdown because most of what we do is cloud based. We have communicated with our clients, downloading their cloud accounting information for a few years now, so there was no real change there, just a better understanding of how revolutionary it is!
2. Pick up the phone more!
The emails at the start of lockdown felt quite relentless and it was easier to call a client and have a proper conversation. There is a time and place for email, when things need to be recorded, but quite often a telephone call can be quicker and problems solved more directly. In the future, I hope we maintain this dialogue on the telephone rather than reverting to lots of emails in place of a conversation.
3. Teams work well together online
As a team, we had been accustomed to using Microsoft Teams to communicate prior to lockdown, so we were already in a routine of catching up that way for meetings. During the months of April and May we met three times a week – as well as socially for games – via teams. We have also used Teams to manage our workflow so it was all pretty seamless.
4. Working from home isn’t the dream you think it may be
I’ve spoken to a lot of colleagues and friends who have changed their minds about working from home having done it through lockdown. Prior to March, lots of us dreamt of working from home, but the reality has proved not to be quite so dreamy. My daughter is 5 and in reception class at school and I could only manage to help her with school work at the weekends. I started work early in the morning so I was able to finish at 2pm and take her for a nature walk, which was fun, but in the day time I needed a quiet space for client calls and to work undisturbed. This has been a challenge I know many have faced. I am glad to be back in the office now – there are certain jobs that are well suited to being locked away undisturbed at home but there are also jobs that are better suited to the office. If you offered WFH to my team now, I think that 90% would say they’d rather be in the office!
5. Drawing a line under things
I am aware of how tough it has been for the younger trainees that I manage – they have been stuck at home with their families, working from home on client work and also studying for their exams at home. We have spoken a lot about the importance of drawing a line under work and not replying to emails at 11pm at night! My team are really dedicated and always want to provide a good service to clients, but it’s important to draw a line under work and to put it away at the end of the day.
6. Keeping some of the better changes
One of the things I noticed about lockdown was that we had more time for each other. It was really fantastic to get more time with my daughter and to have a free calendar and weekends that we could fill with walks etc. I hope that we maintain that and continue to enjoy spending quality time together.
Hannah manages the outsourcing team at www.mcbridesllp.com