August 30, 2021

Key lessons in returning to the workplace – The Scotsman

Repost of Colin's article in The Scotsman

Over the past 16-months the pandemic has forced employers to adapt to extremes never considered before, and it has taken strong leadership to steer things in the right direction.

However, as restrictions ease and we all prepare to return to the workplace, we must adapt again to changes that will last beyond the pandemic – and it falls again on leaders to navigate their people on the road to recovery.

Over the past 16 months, organisations have changed immeasurably, and so have the demands placed those in the driving seat. What has become clear is that ina crisis, the leadership approach must change too.

Let’s break this down into three phases: emergency – the pandemic; return – getting people back into the swing of ‘normal’ working; and recovery – what happens next.

In the emergency phase, leaders had to move to the frontline and fight the fires. However, in the return phase, leaders must step back and spend more time supporting their teams.

In recovery, leaders need to strike a balance between guiding a smooth return while maintaining the pressure to renew and rethink the future.

So what does this mean for leaders in the ‘new normal’ and what should they be thinking about as we emerge from the pandemic?

1. Recalibrate what you do and why you do it.

This is a crucial step – often overlooked – but an easy win. Re-tell the story about your organisation and why it exists, what it does and what is important. Many people have now re-evaluated their personal priorities and whether they are still aligned with those of their organisation. Spending time here helps everyone to get ‘back on the bus’, know the destination, how they will get there, understand what seat they are in and how they can contribute to success. Don’t overlook the obvious just because you know the way ahead, and if you don’t know the way, keep listening, talking and asking for contribution.

 2. Rethink how work gets done.

Clearly, the pandemic changed the way we work forever. For some this may be minor, but for others this could mean a change of role entirely. This is an opportunity. Don’t slip back into your old organisational structure – you need to better understand how your business needs to operate and then think about what that means for the roles required and the people you have. Capitalise by resetting the organisation and reviewing if you have the right structure for now – not the past. Include your team in this. It helps people shape the right structure and roles, and they often have a better understanding of how things work day-to-day. This helps identify where gaps and development areas are in knowledge, skills and behaviours that are necessary going forward.

3. Elevate your authentic self (NB this is key).

It can’t all be about the business strategy and structure. Leaders must be explicitly authentic. What does this mean? Well, leaders need to role model vulnerability for a start. Why? Because everyone is probably feeling a little vulnerable and nervous about the future of work, and the truth is no one really knows what the coming months and years have in store. Leaders need to be honest, transparent and show vulnerability. They need to connect with their human-side and be able to express their feelings and display emotions for others to understand that ‘it is okay, not to be okay’.

We have had to immerse ourselves in being more resilient and focus on our wellbeing over the last 16 months – this cannot and should not stop. We need to ensure we are putting our own lifejackets on before helping others. Leaders need to look after themselves, to be able to look after others. To do this, we can ensure we are booking in regular maintenance and re-fuel time so we don’t burn out. There is a fine line, and leaders need to know themselves better to manage their impulse control and emotions to create a safe psychological environment for people to feel they can come forward with concerns or questions.

4. Navigate your people back to work

Going back into the workplace should not be overlooked. This is a BIG deal for most people – especially if the set-up has changed. We all know the importance of how people see their physical place of work and why some have battled with the introduction of hot-desking in recent years. You should create a staged campaign here to get people excited about going back into the workplace (once it is safe to do so). Pilot different ideas and bring people in to help test and ask for their feedback. Re-think why you are asking people to return to the office and consider how you can still offer flexibility for teams and individuals who have improved productivity from working from home.

For most, the move to digital and working from home (or anywhere) has really elevated industries – creating an opportunity to rescope how the office is used and how to work in a hybrid way.

We would also recommend ‘re-orientating’ workforces on their return. I don’t know how many people we have spoken to that have forgotten how the printer works or how to set the alarm. Going back over the basics and bringing teams in to go through a re-introduction to the workplace shouldn’t be missed. It will help create a buzz and start reforming relationships again. Top tip – take the small stuff seriously.

5. Promote ‘out with the old and in with the new’

Leaders need to encourage and role model change. Recovery isn’t about going back and slipping into old habits. This is an incredible opportunity to assess pre-pandemic routines and behaviours, then determine which ones serve the organisation, and which ones are best left in the past. “Renewal not return” is the term used by leaders such as Siemens Chairman Jim Hagemann. Leaders who have created a psychologically safe culture with their teams will be able to progress, promoting and rewarding others to help do things differently, faster and better. This is when you can get creative and innovative with teams – form huddles and create the environment for creative problem solving and looking at ways to improve processes and workflows. This is pivotal to your people feeling part of and contributing to the change your organisation needs to be a success. It is not about the leader having all the ideas or solutions – it is about creating the right culture and environment for your people to take ownership and accountability here and bring their own ideas of how they can improve productivity.

Colin Lamb is founder of Connect Three, a Scottish consultancy which helps businesses improve through their people

June 25, 2021

Maintaining Flexible Working after Lockdown

By the peak of summer in 2020, around 40% of the workforce had been moved to remote and flexible working arrangements because of the COVID pandemic[1].  The rapid shift to flexible working, and the longevity of our secondment to home offices has created an international debate about the future of the workplace, and has caused many organisations to begin to explore potential longer-term adoption of more flexible approaches to work.

Flexible working means a degree of flexibility on how long, where, when and at what times employees work, but as the remote/hybrid/onsite debate rages on elsewhere, let’s focus on flexible working in terms of hours and times for now.  For many, juggling home schooling, care giving responsibilities and other lockdown legacies meant that 9am to 5pm was just not a possibility, and companies accommodated this change.  But can this be sustained once lockdown has ended?

Some People or All People?

Jane van Zyl, Working Families chief executive, says that by offering flexible working employers can “harness the increases in productivity, talent attraction, and diversity that flexible working will bring to the UK economy”[2].

“We simply can’t go back to a time where long hours and being the last person in the office are seen as a mark of success,” she added.

But if businesses choose to return to ‘business as usual’, with their people in the office most of the time, will they still consider more flexible accommodations for their staff, such as occasional remote working?  Or flexible work hours to allow couples to both work full-time and still share child care responsibilities?  Will it be available to all staff, or only those with a certain level or title?

As has become Connect Three’s mantra in our articles throughout the pandemic, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution.  The demands of your industry and how you operate, the nature of your marketplace, and the needs of your people will all inform your decision.

Benefits and Barriers to Flexible Working

The positives of a completely flexible workforce are both anecdotal and scientific.  It may be linked to higher productivity and job satisfaction, and by helping workers avoid the pressure of commuting at rush hour, companies can improve their people’s mental well-being, while also reducing the strain on the environment.  If not all staff are in the office at the same time then this could allow organisations to downsize their physical sites, or even close some of them altogether leaving more funding available for other improvements to help their people.

There are plenty of negatives as well - for instance, if leaders and their people are not working compatible hours, the lack of visibility can impact workers professionally, and if people begin to be in the minority, and are working in office when relatively few people are around, mental health may become an issue.  The social isolation caused by the pandemic has been a deciding factor in the rise in mental health problems the NHS has documented over the last 12 months.

So before considering how to implement flexible working, you need to speak with your people and decide if it's the right choice.

How do you Implement Flexible Working?

UK employment law sets out a number of minimum standards regarding flexible working with which employers must comply, so employers should make sure they’re aware of these when reviewing their flexible working arrangements. The CIPD has a wide range of resources and information on flexible working including case studies and information on the types of flexible working.

In their literature the CIPD highlights that when teams have a mix of virtual and physical working, organisations and their people managers need to “ensure fairness and consistency in the treatment of all employees whether working flexibly or not”, as well as ongoing communication and engagement.

Their recommendations for effective people management during flexible working include:

  • Effective communication to make sure all employees receive key messages, whether they are in the office or not.
  • Providing managers with guidance, training and support for managing remotely and ‘out of hours’.
  • Encouraging regular 1-2-1 or ‘check-in’ meetings to monitor wellbeing and reduce any feelings of isolation.
  • Fair workload distribution and regular reviews of workload and objectives.
  • Regular team meetings and social spaces to maintain connections and build relationships.

As well as this general advice. there is lots, and I mean lots, of existing and emerging research[3] that can help companies who are serious about implementing flexible working to create a viable organisational strategy, and ways to effectively manage and lead flexible workers. As Dr. Daniel Wheatley of University of Birmingham says:

“Truly embracing flexibility requires job design to be revisited in many cases, so that the focus is on deliverables and outputs rather than specific timing of work…
[Flexible Working] can enable the working day to be moulded for the dual benefit of worker and employer. However, this has to be carefully managed to ensure that workers are available when needed, but also are able to realise a separation and balance between home and work."[4]

 Flexible Working Will NEVER Be Available for Everyone

Finally, it should be acknowledged that remote and flexible working has been a privilege made available to those mostly in managerial and professional occupations.  With the notable exception of professionals in the healthcare and other essential industries, the 60% of the workforce unable to work remotely or flexibly tends to be from lower wage brackets.

Those whose job requires them to be in their workplace during certain hours, such as roles in manufacturing, delivery, retail and  hospitality roles will never discover the simple pleasure of conducting business at hours which suit your lifestyle and natural productivity levels.  This is the same demographic that was largely left unable to work, furloughed, redundant, or being forced to journey to a workplace during the pandemic.

So no matter how ‘mainstream’ flexible and remote working becomes, it is doubtful that it will ever become the majority solution.

 

References:

[1] https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/non-standard-employment/publications/WCMS_743447/lang--en/index.htm

[2] https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/maintain-flexible-working-momentum-after-pandemic-urges-charity/

[3] https://www.igi-global.com/book/handbook-research-remote-work-worker/256890

[4] https://blog.bham.ac.uk/business-school/2021/03/03/managing-flexible-working-post-pandemic/

May 25, 2021

Why you should expect conflict in offices this summer

One report tells us that everyone is desperate to get back to the office, and another survey tells us that actually…no we aren’t – it’s no surprise that businesses are struggling to plan for their people’s futures when they have no idea what lies in store. But one thing we’d like leaders to prepare for is tension in the workplace.

After over a year of limited resources, endless virtual meetings, and feelings of isolation, the first day back at the office may feel like the first day back at school.  Everyone looking smarter than we’ve seen them in months, maybe packing new stationery into new bags and shining our shoes (or at least wiping down our sneakers) in anticipation of seeing our colleagues in real life again.  Being able to talk to acquaintances in private rather than in virtual meetings and finding out what’s happened in their lives over the time apart.  There’s no doubt it will be exciting, but how long will the novelty last?

Suddenly, people won’t be able to work from their sofas at their own pace in whatever clothes are clean. Instead they will be back to suffering a daily commute, or to being judged for how much coffee they drink, or how many breaks they take – it will take a lot for people to adjust to a workplace again, and we need to be prepared.

Arguments and conflicts over petty misdemeanours in the kitchen, or use of office resources may come up more than usual.  People may forget what is correct office etiquette again, and insult others accidently with cheeky humour or off-hand comments.  Coping mechanisms for dealing with these small incidents will be forgotten or out of practice, and tolerances that had built up over time will need to be started from scratch.

So while leaders may be excited about being able to ‘properly’ manage their people again, and relishing the chance to interact, they need to be prepared for these new problems that will arise, just as they did at the start of remote working. For organisations ready to embrace a hybrid model, it is imperative that leaders have a plan in place for supporting employees who are all working in different ways and requiring different things each day.

But where do you begin?  Well we find the best place to start is to think of your employees as adults…no, really.  Speak to them now, initiate some open dialogue and find out what their concerns and fears are.  Let them know your expectations around their return to the office, and ensure everyone starts from day one on the same page.

Offer one-to-one support for your direct reports and ensure they do the same for their own teams if necessary.  Being mindful of our own worries and respectful of the concerns of those around you will be key to getting your workplace back on track.

The truth is, you won’t know what the problems will be until you are back and in the thick of it, so don’t make any big changes or rash decisions now. Instead, give everyone time to settle, observe the problems that arise and then you can start making plans for how to deal with them.

October 7, 2020

Working from Home – Not One Size Fits All

The UK government is fluctuating between telling people to work from home, and encouraging companies to send their staff back to the office but do they really want to return?  Netflix Chairman, Reed Hastings, is quoted as calling working from home “a pure negative”[1]; do other big brands share his beliefs?  What about the small businesses out there; has the pandemic been a blessing or a curse?

To prepare for this article I have spent hours poring over the research to get some answers on how successful working from home has been for people and businesses in the UK so far.  If I’m honest, the articles on the benefits of working from home are starting to get my hackles up, and it’s for one simple reason – the generalisations.  It is wild to assume that if a cross-section of the population is interviewed they will give the same answers on:

  1. Have you enjoyed working from home?
  2. Would you like to continue working from home?
  3. How productive have you been?

Let’s take our own company as an example.  We are a team of 13, made up of remote workers and core office staff; some of us are working parents, some of us live with our parents, and some of us live alone.  We have blended families, single parents, and nuclear families in our group.  Our ages range from early twenties to…well, let’s say 40+.  Our job roles are split amongst creative, operational, strategic and coaches/trainers so our day-to-day working lives looked very different even before lockdown.

Just as no two employees have the same experience, no two companies will have approached the ‘working from home’ process in the same way.  Many companies had been taking a proactive approach to flexible working long before the pandemic hit, while others were forced into it with no preparation for their teams on emotional or practical levels.  At Connect Three we were lucky that none of us were new to working from home.  Like many other fair work focused companies, we have had a long term strategy implementing flexible working.  That means most of our team entered into this with previous experience of working at home, and established spaces at to work from.  However, there are many teams and businesses who may have dipped their toe in the flexible-working-water before, or may have never considered it.

All  things considered, how could people possibly write overarching statements on whether working from home has been a positive or negative experience for any team or agency?  Before we run after naysayers like Reed Hastings with pitchforks, let’s look at what he said.  Firstly, he was clear that his staff would not be returning to regular office hours until after a COVID-19 vaccination was available.  Second, he said that: "Not being able to get together in person, particularly internationally, is a pure negative.”  While it’s a strong statement, it’s not necessarily wrong, is it?  Being unable to get together in person could not be classed as a positive thing.  The impact on company growth and individual well-being is obvious.  Other big brand bosses, however, are more than happy to embrace the changing models of working and the benefits they bring.

With mounting financial pressures, the idea that companies do not need a city centre skyscraper office to attract the best staff is incredibly appealing.  The pandemic has proven for many companies that a dispersed workforce is an effective method for finding and retaining diverse talent.  Imagine a future where companies can still pay you ‘big city’ wages but move their headquarters to cities where their rent, and yours, will be much lower.

Other brands have plans for hybrid models of working.  Facebook, for instance, has announced its intention to open small satellite offices where staff can ‘check in’ and meet face-to-face regularly while still working from home when they like.  Coinbase CEO Brain Armstrong says; “… the vision is to have one floor of office space in 10 cities, rather than 10 floors of office space in one city.”[2]

There is no doubt that the cat is out of the bag when it comes to remote working, and that the likelihood of everyone who worked 5 days a week in an office returning to that style of work any time soon is not high; but questions are rightly being raised about whether company culture and innovation is being impacted; about how ‘presenteeism’ will affect career progression for parents and junior staff; about how staff mental health is impacted by isolation from colleagues and face-to-face networking.  As Mark Lund, President of McCann Worldgroup says: “We are missing the charge of physical meetings and collaboration with each other and clients greatly. The serendipity at the heart of the creative process is much harder to achieve via a screen.”[3]

So where do we go from here?  How do we create a model that works for all of our people, enabling them to be productive, while protecting their emotional well-being and securing our company’s future?  Oh wait, were you are expecting an answer?  Like I said, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for the ‘working from home’ question.  I do know how you can find your company’s answer though – communication.  Speak to your staff as individuals, make your decisions about the future based on evidence, not assumptions.  Just because surveys and research say that most older people want to keep working from home, while most younger people want back to the comradery of an office; that does not mean it’s true for your staff.  Check in with them and find out what they need.  One thing is for sure, the working from home model must evolve from where it is now.

Those businesses who have yet to plan how a more flexible working arrangement could benefit their organisations for the better need to start now, and those businesses with established flexible working solutions need to review what has worked and what hasn’t during the recent system stress test.

“Even the most ambitious champions of remote working acknowledge that in-person interaction with colleagues is healthy for morale and company culture, and that it enables a greater degree of collaborative innovation not possible with Zoom or Teams, which tech leaders agree is an essential catalyst to growth.” Says Ernest Andrade, Founder of the Charleston Digital Corridor[4].

Nikki Slowey, Founder and Co-Director of Flexibility Works, says: “The demand for flexible working was already outstripping supply here in Scotland and in particular the demand for home working had certainly not been met by employers. Business leaders are now looking at how people in their organisation will work going forward and realising that home working needs to be part of the picture. This doesn’t mean everyone working from home all of the time. There is still a huge role for a physical space, which allows us to connect with colleagues, but we will see a more blended approach to where and when people work.

“And remember, what we’ve been experiencing is not even ‘normal’ home working, as it happened so suddenly for so many people, not to mention the fact many of us have children at home. Just think what can be achieved if we embed flexible working properly as businesses re-set post COVID19. There are, of course, many challenges for organisations and workers because of the pandemic.  But there is an opportunity to make some things better.”

Get in touch to find out how Connect Three can support businesses like yours in engaging with your teams, or the behavioural support required during the challenges working from home gives employees and how we can support managers and leaders.


[1] https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/netflixs-reed-hastings-right-call-working-home-a-pure-negative/1694607

[2] https://blog.coinbase.com/post-covid-19-coinbase-will-be-a-remote-first-company-cdac6e621df7

[3] https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/netflixs-reed-hastings-right-call-working-home-a-pure-negative/1694607

[4] https://venturebeat.com/2020/09/13/after-covid-a-hub-and-spoke-office-style-could-become-the-norm/

July 2, 2020

Working Lives in Scotland

CIPD Scotland has created an insightful report on job quality in Scotland as part of their commitment to championing better work and working lives for all Scottish people.  What’s really interesting about this report is that it offers pre-COVID-19 analysis and insights on workforce health and wellbeing as well as skills and careers development.

This report adapts the CIPD Good Work Index to the Scottish Fair Work Framework.  If you have worked with Connect Three before you’ll know that we are passionate about helping businesses meet the Scottish Government’s Fair Work Framework.  We are proud to have been awarded the Glasgow Business Award for Fair Work last year, and in the last 12 months we have worked to help others create the same engaged, innovative workplace that we have been recognised for building with our own team.

So what are the key findings from the report?

One finding that we feel has extra relevance in our society right now is the positive correlation between flexible work and job satisfaction.  Now that more businesses have been pushed into creating flexible working environments for their staff, how will they move forward when we all return to office environments?

Connect Three’s Founder, Colin Lamb, says: “We have long been champions of flexible working and are happy to see this report’s finding that there is a positive correlation between being flexible and having a happier workforce. Flexible working practices allow everyone in your organisation the chance to shine, regardless of what’s going on outside of work.”

A finding that we were disappointed to read was that both personal and career development opportunities differ, often significantly, by gender, age, sector and occupational class.  The statistic in this which stood out to us was that there is a significant gap in the perceived skills development opportunities for the 45-54 age bracket.  It has started some interesting conversations amongst our team as to the skills development opportunities appropriate and available for this age group.

“One of the five pillars of the Fair Work Framework is opportunity.” says Gordon White, Connect Three’s Operations Manager. “Seeing this perceived gap in skills development opportunities for the 45-54 age bracket drives home how important Opportunity is when creating a happier and more productive workplace.”

Other key findings:

You can view all of the results from the report and download the unabridged version here.

For more information on Fair Work and creating Opportunity within your organisation, get in touch with Connect Three today on hello@connectthree.co.uk.

May 15, 2020

Why is Remote Working so Exhausting?

Are you finding working from home is more exhausting and you are more drained than when you had to commute to and from a busy office?

I’m sure you are starting to read more about ‘Zoom Fatigue’ or Teams Tired’.  As with any new experience, by using these platforms which we may not be used to we are training new neural pathways in our brain.  This is one of the reasons why learning is tiring, even more so when we start down what was a familiar pathway (the work looks the same) but then have to divert to do the work in a different way (virtual meetings, mastering new platforms, presenting or receiving information in a different way).

Added to that, we are having to respond to multitudinous ways of being contacted; if my WhatsApp is stupid busy with work, personal and family calls at all times of the day, then it’s hardly surprising my ‘on’ button feels like it got jammed.

I recently saw this model from Nir Eyal on a former colleague’s LinkedIn post and all of a sudden it all made sense. His view is that technology can perpetuate a vicious and seemingly constant cycle of responsiveness. The alerts that go off at all hours seem endless.

When we look at the science behind our almost addictive reaction to such pings, it’s not surprising that our brains are exhausted. Somehow, that need to find out who needs us, wants something from us, needs to speak with us grows more and more irresistible – especially when many of us are missing out on our usual social interaction over a coffee, lunch or just someone wandering past your desk.

Experiments on response to stimuli with mice found that providing the same treats every time a mouse pressed a lever was less motivating than varying the rewards.  So, when we don’t know who could be needing us or what they could want it gets harder and harder to resist the ping. We tell ourselves it’s just a quick look and Bam! we get our attention fix – again; and by taking that quick peek (it never is) those neural pathways to fire up all over again.

Devices and platforms use triggers such as notifications to encourage us to take actions—opening the app, looking at Slack, checking LinkedIn etc. Variable rewards - messages coming in more frequently and from a wider social sphere -encourage us to take action every time: checking our inboxes, refreshing social feeds, and the like.

I for one have a hard time resisting the alerts, and an even harder time not ‘just quickly checking’. In fact - there goes my phone now!

CJ

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If you are a leader struggling to set ground rules to protect the well-being of your remote teams, you may find value in our free one-to-one coaching sessions.  Find out more by emailing hello@connectthree.co.uk.

April 29, 2020

How Taking Our Business Digital Has Taught Us To Be Human

We’re in week six of working from home and now this really does feel like normal. We’ve all embraced video conferencing with gusto, we’ve found new and innovative ways to service and support our clients, and we’ve just got on with things as best we can, under the circumstances.

While some aspects of working from home have certainly proven challenging, there has been one huge and surprising advantage; we’ve got to know each other and our clients a whole lot better. We check in regularly with each other to see how we’re all doing. We’ve seen each other’s kitchens and living rooms and noted each other’s taste in art and interiors. We’ve said hello to children and partners. We now know who’s messy and who’s tidy, who the good gardeners are, the best bakers and cooks. From a business perspective, we’ve developed a strong understanding of our clients’ unique, immediate and longer-term challenges and how we can best support them.

Most of all, we’ve really understood how this crisis is impacting every single one of us at both a personal and professional level. I think it’s fair to say, we’ve all become more human as a result.

This has also manifested itself in some of the changes we’ve made to our internal communications. At Connect Three, we now have a weekly session with a focus on providing regular updates on how the business is performing and how that’s changing week-to-week. Added to that we have a Friday Happy Hour where we commit to hanging out with each other, taking part in trivia quizzes (we know who the music nerds are now) and having a virtual look round each other’s houses. We also send out a weekly survey to gather how everyone is feeling about the week ahead (we have all gone through ups and downs) and what each person is focussed on achieving, not just at work but for themselves.

We all agree that we know each other a lot better than we thought we did before and want this to continue into the future. It has made a real difference to how we communicate and ask for help.

Looking After Our Health

Of course, looking after our mental health has taken on renewed importance in recent weeks. Some of our team have recently taken on the challenge of running 5k every day to get out in the fresh air, have a bit of mental downtime, and support and encourage each other in getting through lockdown.

For the Most Part, it's Still Business as Usual...

Although it is impossible to run in-person programmes at the moment, there are a number of clients who remain incredibly dedicated to continuing to develop their staff, especially those in the food, telecom and finance sectors. Almost all clients, however, are looking for support and advice in helping to scenario plan the best approach to strategy review, and the best way to pick up their business again as we move towards the relaxing of lockdown and coming out of furlough in the coming months.

As a result, we’ve put more focus than normal on understanding our resource capacity. We’re regularly assessing who’s over stretched and who might have more availability to assist. This has allowed us to maximise resources right across our team and, importantly, help each other out as needed, spreading the workload to meet changing client demand.

It also has an added benefit in allowing our people to experience working with each other in a different way on client accounts that they may not have experienced before, and to learn some new skills or ways of working.

In many respects, business continues to move on and be done, albeit differently to how it might have been done just a few short weeks ago.

What Comes Next?

In some sense, we’re very much in a holding pattern at present, waiting for the economy to reopen and get started again. The real work will begin when we return to the office, and while it’s almost impossible to say how the books will look at the end of 2020, we’ve already made some estimates as to where we hope to end up and adjusted costs accordingly.

For now, however, we’re mostly looking forward to a return to our offices in Glasgow, meeting up with colleagues, partners and clients again, all hopefully in the not too distant future.

We can help with many aspects of your business, both during and post-lockdown, so please get in touch to find out more.

CJ

April 17, 2020

Shona: Three Ps from Me to You…

So, with nearly four weeks of lockdown under our belts and it being another three weeks until we find out what decisions are going to be made next, I felt the time was right to share some of my reflections.    As I’ve connected with friends, colleagues and clients over the last month it has become clear that while we’re all experiencing the same thing, the way we’re experiencing it is unique to each of us.

Everywhere we look there is a plethora of insights, thoughts, tips and techniques about how to make the most of the world we’ve found ourselves in.  Personally, I’m glad to be through the binging stage and while I found some of it helpful, some of it positively unhelpful.

These three Ps are definitely not new concepts, nor are they anything that many of us weren’t already doing, but the context for each of us has shifted as we’ve all found ourselves in uncharted territory.  My intent behind sharing them is that they might go some way to helping you make sense of your thoughts with either yourself or with the support of a trusted friend or external coach.

Prioritise ~ I find that I’m now making more conscious choices about how I’m spending my time and who I’m spending it with.  I’m dropping ‘should do’, focusing on the ‘want to do’ and as a result I’m connecting more with my purpose (the Start with Why concept from Simon Sinek) and identifying were I can be most proactive (the Circle of Control concept from Stephen Covey) as well making the most of my days both personally and professionally.

Practice ~ I like to think of this as experimentation with purpose.  If you don’t dip your toe in the water and practice you’ll never know.  No one said it would be easy and progress is better than perfection (admittedly I’m still struggling with this concept!). I’ve recently discovered the work of Susan David which has taken my own thinking on resilience and emotional agility to a deeper level.   Seeing it as a set of skills to learn, grow and thrive as a person is helping me overcome the blips in my practice and reframing stumbling blocks as stepping stones is helping sustain and build my self-confidence.

Positivity ~ I’m a practical optimist and by encouraging my inner critic to speak to myself like I would speak to my best friend I’m starting to judge myself a bit less and show myself a bit more compassion.  Without doubt, understanding when Imposter Syndrome is hampering me and being able to deploy ways to manage that has been a game changer and is equipping me to develop stronger connections with my tribe and seize the right opportunities when they arise.

I’m starting to see how these three Ps are helping reframe my approach to each and every day… definitely starting to feel less discombobulated and connecting more with my ‘buildbackability’, while accepting some days will be better than others and there is no right way to feel right now.

I’d love to engage and explore the above in more depth so if what I’ve shared has resonated with you and you’re curious to explore more, please reach out to me.

Thanks, Shona

 

April 2, 2020

Can you do training courses during lockdown?

If you are an employee on furlough or self-employed and unable to work because of lockdown, it may seem like the perfect time to keep up to date on your skills, or take part in personal development, but will that affect your government support?

If you are seeking help through the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme there is nothing in the potential support that will be affected by you undertaking self-development.

If you have been notified you are an employee on furlough, while you are not able to work for your employer, you can undertake training (subject to following the current public health rules) as long as you are not making money for your employer, or providing services for your employer.  Ultimately, whether or not you are required to do the training needs to be agreed between you and your employer, but it is a discussion you should be able to have comfortably with them.

Should you do training now?

Learning new skills, taking part in group events (even if they are online), and keeping your brain active can all be really important steps in combating the negative effects of self-isolation.  It can be all too easy to become lonely, complacent, bored and even depressed during this uncertain and turbulent time.  By taking steps towards self-development, and focusing on the future, you can bring a positive light to the situation.

Can I receive Coaching now?

Similar to group training, one-on-one coaching can be hugely beneficial to both your personal and professional development at this time.  Find out more about Connect Three’s pro bono coaching offering this month.

Disclaimer: all information correct at time of publication. If in doubt, we recommend you seek advice from HMRC or your employer.

March 31, 2020

COVID-19 Scottish Business Support Summary

Our friends at Glasgow City Council were kind enough to share this guide which Business Gateway has prepared.  It offers an at a glance summary of the help and support available to businesses and individuals from HMRC, the Scottish Government and other sources.

Download your guide here

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