I am not sure how I would have responded if someone had told me in 2019 that this year we would be forced to abandon our office’s due to a “Lockdown” caused by a viral pandemic that jumped to humans apparently through a food market in China.
None of us had heard the term furlough, let alone considered it as a mechanism for job retention, and although we might have wanted to run the company remotely using virtual meetings, team stand ups intermixed with virtual pilates lessons, coffee breaks, quizzes and cake deliveries to our team we would have laughed at the thought!
Our business is very fortunate to be providing digital marketing services that have been in demand by many types of business.
This fortunate position, combined with our investment in technology and hardware, means remote working has been far simpler for us than many companies we know.
Wherever possible we have done our best to help our clients pivot to new ways of working and continue trading in their respective markets by providing insights on how to run and publicise digital events and conferences. This included launching Equi Connect – an end to end ecommerce-to-fulfilment service to enable manufacturers to sell direct to consumers online.
Whilst lockdown has caused much disruption, we have seen our clients' marketing budgets tracking at around 80% of forecast and we have also pitched to and on-boarded new clients enabling us to see a way back towards our forecast for the year.
We have embraced the opportunity for change and taken o board the feedback from our team via anonymous surveys as to how they wish to work going forward.
Our team have completed their home workstation risk assessments and we have been providing desks, chairs and extra monitors as working from home became normal.
Ongoing concerns about our ability to ensure our team’s safety as necessary - facilities including reception and toilets are in common areas of the building and the landlord hasn’t completed a realistic risk assessment, means our last day as a tenant on Windmill Business Park is in late September.
Thereafter we will continue to operate as a virtual business for the foreseeable future with the plan to arrange physical hang outs as the lockdown relaxes.
This is a really important part of planning for our teams wellbeing and Continuous Professional Development, as our survey also established our teams preference for having 1:2:1 reviews, training, workshopping ideas and client planning in person rather than remotely.
Thinking about the future we have also signed up to an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) from a recognised provider to ensure our teams health and wellbeing is being supported by professionals outside our organisation.
And the future? As the full economic impact of the pandemic becomes fully visible we will do our best as an employer and service provider to support our team and our clients. Going forward, our team do not expect to be in an office again for more than two days a week so our future office needs will change to more of a drop in hub rather than a permanent desk configuration – but of course mindful of safe management of a shared work environment.
Our message is our team only need be in the office if they want to and when they want to and they look forward to continuing to provide a great service to our clients both here in the UK and internationally.
Andrew Burgess co-founded equimedia in 2000 and has developed the agency through periods of immense change in the media and technology landscape. With data and insight at the heart of the business, he is thrilled to be working with a team of people committed to providing clients with excellent service, technical innovation and communication strategies that always deliver great return on investment.