5 Things We Learnt from the 2020 UK Lockdowns

In our latest blog, Camwood Chairman, Frank Foxall takes a look back over 2020 and shares some of the things we learned and the decisions we made as a business to keep us moving forward.

To say that the last year has been strange is a huge understatement. Next year I will turn 60 and I can honestly say that during my lifetime I have never experienced anything remotely like this pandemic and I hope that I never will again. Many of us have dealt with sickness, grief, financial worries, stress, and job losses. Many of us have felt isolated when working remotely or hugely overstretched supporting others or taking on homeschooling. Throughout 2020, I was amazed at how businesses have innovated and pivoted to keep going. Across our businesses, we needed to think and act fast at many points during the last year. Our continued success is a testament to the tenacity and dedication of our team, clients, and partners.   

As Churchill once said, “never let a good crisis go to waste” so here are the 5 key things I have learned from this pandemic, so far…

Going Virtual

We switched to remote working, across our businesses 2 weeks before the full lockdown was announced. We had some initial concerns about how disruptive this could be but the impact on productivity and morale was overwhelmingly positive. Our people became incredibly creative and adaptable and allowed us to carry on supporting all our existing clients and, more importantly, to win new business by demonstrating different ways of engaging with customers. The camaraderie exhibited by everyone was incredible and I soon realised our team could work anywhere at any time, to get the job done.

It’s all about your people  

Lots of people say that your team is the most important resource in a company, but I believe it’s more than that, they are the company. Our people allowed us to adapt, they showed a huge amount of resilience and were incredibly responsive throughout 2020. In return, we supported them by creating opportunities for growth and advancement where possible, as well as launching new team engagement initiatives like regular team events, Pilates classes, weekly virtual social interaction slots, a virtual Xmas party with live entertainment, and ongoing polls to provide feedback on what we can do to improve. People are your currency and I’d like to think that ours is very strong right now.

Remote first culture  

We adopted the digital culture very quickly and have recruited at least 10% of our current workforce without ever meeting them. Would we have even considered this a year ago? We have refined our recruitment process and onboarding to make sure that our people are effective as soon as possible. We have won new deals with clients that we have never met apart from on Teams or Zoom. Our bankers, lawyers, and advisors have all been super creative in ways that they would never contemplate a year ago to ensure that our businesses can carry on running smoothly whilst providing them with everything that they need.

Location, location, location?  

Did we really need a permanent base in the City of London? Before 2020, we’d often examined whether our office location was right for our business, but Covid-19 forced us to make a decision. After regular consultations with our team, we decided that we would adopt a flexible hybrid model for the foreseeable future, which will allow the team to meet up when necessary and work remotely as well. We wanted to enable our people to have a better quality of life, claim back the commuting hours, work and live where they want, shop locally and get to really know their community, and spend more time with their families. All our polls were strongly in favour of the hybrid model, the challenge now with this latest lockdown will be when we can implement the plan.

Health is Wealth   

We have all become more aware of the need to exercise. You cannot sit at a desk all day at home or in an office, however many of us did before Covid-19. 2020 was the year that we all realised the importance of exercise, even though gyms, pools, and sports were all suspended. I know that the weather helped in the spring lockdown but I feel that we all now appreciate the benefit of exercise as it triggers the release of endorphins into the bloodstream, which in turn makes you feel good and can also help with stress and pain relief. We’ve been encouraging our team to try and get past the cold, dark mornings and winter nights and to be as active as possible. It will be spring soon and after that summer and hopefully an opportunity for a well-earned holiday. I know and appreciate how important it is to get moving every day if you can, thinking of the positive benefits and the opportunity to clear your head and have a break. 

Despite the recent announcement about lockdown 3 in the UK, I’m feeling positive about 2021 and what we want to achieve this year. I wish everyone a very happy, healthy, and productive 2021, and hope that collectively we can continue to persevere and push forward through the final hurdles of the pandemic.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Frank Foxall
Frank Foxall is the Chairman at Camwood.
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