It's been a strange/interesting/horrific/awful/incredible 18 months depending on what day it was and what stage of lockdown we were at.
Homeschooling for me was the low point. We soldiered on when I know many gave up, to the point of turning the lounge into a makeshift classroom with a whiteboard and fold up desks, then packing away at tend of school. But keeping to the same school routine, including breaks, although incredibly hard, I think in hindsight worked out pretty well.
But it only worked with 2 parents tag-teaming, and to be honest, my wife was absolutely incredible. Help from the school, particularly early on was definitely below average when compared anecdotally to stories around the country. The kids have been amazing and resilient. Behaviour has without dipped and screen time has been more than I'm comfortable with, but we are now reducing back to normal screentime levels and digital discipline.
Business-wise, we abandoned the office in March 2020 and haven't been back. Early lessons became very apparent around technology, and relying on employees to provide their own computers isn't the way forward, with issues around data risk, virus's, and slow older machines not designed to be work machines.
So for the cost of a bunch of laptops and utilising the office PC work application licences and a very cheap remote support app, productivity has actually increased. Luckily we had IP phones in the office, so we all took our phone home, plugged it in and it's like we are still in the office! Feedback is the lack of travelling to the office is appreciated and the greater flexibility this brings. Face to face interaction is handled by 2 weekly zoom team meetings, which has now become the norm and works really well. It's now hard to imagine us in the office.
I appreciate not all industries can work from home, and for those that can, not everyone wants to. I'm also very aware of the devastation of many industries, from tourism to hospitality, and have been dealing first-hand with issues from some of our Trusted Trader members who were unable to work, particularly due to tighter rules around non-essential home repairs in Scotland.
For me, lessons have reconfirmed how key it is to diversify and not be reliant on single revenue streams and to expect the unexpected. As revenue for one business plummeted, revenue increased for my other, balancing things out. Things are now picking up again and from the coalface, we seem to be heading to a post covid world, regardless of what the Government or media tell us.
I'm glad the worst is over, but for me personally, it has been incredibly challenging, very stressful at times, but I think I've come out the other side with a different and more balanced perspective around flexibility and work-life balance, and a much more robust business ready for the next inevitable brexit/covid/recession/catastrophe...
I am looking forward to going aboard again though! At some point...