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Don’t let the new normal become the old normal!

Written by Phil Hobden on Monday, 01 June 2020. Posted in Leadership, People

The last few months have been hard. Businesses have closed their doors (some for good), the economy has been decimated and lives have been changed significantly.

Don’t let the new normal become the old normal!

The last few months have been hard.  Businesses have closed their doors (some for good), the economy has been decimated and lives have been changed significantly.  As the government restrictions loosen and as Covid19 becomes something we learn to live with (through limitations, social distancing and ongoing changes), the temptation for many will be to go back to what we did before.

But don’t. Ask yourself a question; “What has worked well for us?”

At first, that may not be that obvious. After all, you may have had to close your doors, let go of staff, furloughed others or relied on finance to ease cash flow. All not part of your 2020 business plan. Looking at what has worked well may seem hard or even impossible, but take a step back, there will be positives that you can focus and build on whether that’s internally or externally. 

I’ve been lucky. After Capitalise transitioned to working entirely remotely, I too was able to set up my home office with little or no disruption. While there were a few working adjustments to be made, systems were pivoted pretty quickly. As an already cloud-based company (from G-Suite to our own tech stack) we were good to hit the ground running.

I’m used to working remotely with my days in the office with the team a welcomed change. If anything, my days are now occupied with considerably less train travel (and train travel disruption) and costs.

Of course, there has been a seismic impact. Few businesses will escape the long term scarring and economic implications as lockdown lifts - but for the most part, pivoting to our ‘new norm’ can be a positive experience with new benefits that will help us all grow over the coming years. 

Here are a few areas where our business has adapted, areas that bring future positivity.

People.
As a team, we’ve become closer, which is odd considering we’ve never been further away.  But regular meetings and catch-ups, quiz nights, morning yoga or just jumping on a watercooler hangout when you fancy some company has meant we’ve probably spent more time together getting to know each other than ever before. I've seen pets, kids, family members, gardens and gone through the keyhole more times that Keith Lemon. 

Technology
This has been a game-changer for many in the UK, even in a tech-forward business we’ve found new and maybe even better ways of working. Google Hangouts ,Zoom and GoToWebinar have all made it possible for us to carry on but also made our resources more accessible to accountants and businesses in need. And of course not forgetting Slack. We’ve been able to refine our use  making our workflow more efficient and it’s kept us all connected  

Our Customers
We work predominantly in the accountancy market - working alongside accountants to get their SME clients the finance they need – support that is increasingly required in a time of crisis with new schemes such and CBIL and BBL. However, for some more traditional practices, these new tech adoptions will have proved a challenge.

I honestly believe that lockdown and home working will have a bigger impact on the adoption of technology in this industry than making tax digital or cloud accounting ever did.  While before we’d struggle to undertake simple tasks like hosting a remote meeting, Zoom is now referenced in conversation the same way that Hoover or Kleenex is. Before lockdown, we’d never dream of hosting our education events online but now, every week (often 4-5 times a week), I'm hosting both our in-person and our digital education sessions online. 

Industry
Last week would have been Accountex - the biggest show on the Accounting industry calendar with 8000 accountants, hundreds of vendors and talks, and a mountain of freebies Instead, The Excel is a temporary hospital and Accountex has been moved to November.  However, when we should of all been flocking to the Excel, we were virtually gathering by the thousands in attendance of the Virtual Summit Conference. The event was a huge success with over 10,000 registrants, over 100 speakers and some amazing conversations (some talks had over 4,000 people registered).  It also helped raise £40k+ for the NHS and, no doubt, saved a lot of plastic from being taken home to later be passed on as presents to unsuspecting relatives. 

Personally
Less travel, more time with the family, better diet and daily walks.  None of these would have been possible under the ‘old norm’.  And whilst I know this will change, I’m going to work hard to ensure as much of it as possible remains.  I even get to cook more now (not sure if my wife would consider that to be a positive or not - I’m a good cook but messy) and haven't worn jeans or trousers in about 5 weeks (shorts if you must know - I’m not working in my PJ’s) 

Beyond what we are doing here at Capitalise, I’ve seen some amazing stories of businesses pivoting, adapting and finding ways to be creative in their approach. Yes to survive.  But for the restaurants that now offer delivery that never did before, the manufacturing firms that have found they can fast track a new product in weeks rather than years or the tech businesses that have made it easier for everyone else…  The worst thing we can do is throw away these positive changes and slip back into old habits.

Yes, it’s been hard. Yes the effects will resonate for months or even years to come.  But if you found a way to do things better, more efficiently or more as a team than before, make sure you carry this with you into the next phase..These are the businesses that will lead going forward and be ready for whatever is thrown at them next.

About the Author

Phil Hobden

Phil Hobden

Phil Hobden - Head Of Education at Capitalise

With a background in financial services & the Fintech accountancy market, Phil has worked for some of the largest and most innovative businesses across these sectors. As Head Of Education for Capitalise, Phil leads the external accountant training programme as part of our vision to bring back 10,000 trained SME finance advisors to the UK.

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