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Lockdown lessons

The SPEY team share what they've learned during lockdown

It’s been 150 days since lockdown was announced in the UK. 150 days that we’ve been working from home at what we’d imagined would be temporary set-ups. The early days seem a distant memory now, and whilst restaurants have opened up again and we’re allowed to see family and friends, three households at a time, we’re still working from home. 

We asked our team what they’ve learned during lockdown, and what lessons they’re going to take with them going forward. From banishing the word ‘can’t’ from our vocabulary, to the importance of making time for family, here’s what they had to say.

Jennifer Robertson, Managing Partner:

Make meetings count

With a business based in the Highlands of Scotland, working remotely has become second nature and the term isolation is not unknown, indeed we think it can be splendid. At SPEY we have embraced the obstacles and maximise the benefits that come with remote working.

Even before lockdown, I would always recommend saving face to face interactions for when it really matters. In-person meetings for the sake of it simply eat away at time, your company and client budgets as well as drive up carbon emissions.

It's always great when we meet our clients in person whether visiting them on site or at events.  Because we focus on productivity with measurable results, not lengthy meetings, when we do meet we always get more out of it as there is a strong sense of purpose.

Emma Scott, General Manager:

Value time together

Usually at SPEY we can be rushing here, there and everywhere so it's given me the opportunity to really slow down which has been a blessing whilst being pregnant. It's also encouraged me to be more conscious about screen time, and take more regular breaks away from the computer. Our team were already well versed in working remotely so there hasn't been any negative impact on our collaborative working approach, or how productive we've been. It has, however, really made me value time that we are able to spend together as a team non-virtually and I think we'll appreciate that a lot more as we get back to normality in the coming months. 

Gemma Ramshaw, Office Manager:

Prioritise family time

After moving from Surrey back to our home in Moray in January, my plan was to take a break from work, settle everyone in and explore the local area with my youngest.  However, I was soon thrown into the world of homeschooling two primary school children with a baby who decided to crawl the day lockdown started.  It was a huge learning curve, but we settled in, doing craft projects most days, exploring walks in the local woods and throwing stones into the Spey, with a little bit of the more formal school work from time to time. I longed for the day we’d get some structure back in our lives, however, when they returned to school I was slightly emotional that the freedom we had as a family and the amazing quality bonding time all together had come to an end.  We’ve been able to reflect on our lives and what things we want and don't want to reintroduce, slowly returning to busy schedules, but one thing we want to keep is at least one weekend a month where it is just our wee family spending time at home together. Hopefully we can hold onto this as we move forward, but I cherish the great memories made during lockdown.

Abigail Donaldson, Senior Associate:

Use time productively

At SPEY we have a great system in place for remote working so we didn't find the lockdown too challenging in terms of team and client communication. What lockdown taught me is that I am very disciplined when it comes to remote working and not clocking up endless miles has given me the opportunity to create a better work/life balance that I didn't realise I needed. 

Outside of work, lockdown helped me make my house a home as I got stuck into various DIY projects in our new house and found time to put my stamp on the place. Who knew painting ceilings and skirting boards could bring so much joy! 

Marion Cordiner, Associate Partner:

There's no such word as can't

Lockdown has taught me there's no such word as can't.  Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, you would have heard me say "I can't work late in the evenings". or "I can't work and look after children at the same time." Or "I can't exercise in the mornings before I start the day, I don't have time." But when you're thrown into unexpected and unknown territories it's amazing what you can achieve.  We are all a lot stronger, more determined and more resilient than we give ourselves credit for.  Working from home and looking after two small children is a juggling act and I am proud of what I, and countless other working parents out there, have achieved, coming out the other side of five months with no childcare, relatively unscathed.  I've learnt to adapt to new patterns, and actually find I quite enjoy working in the evenings now on the sofa in the peace and quiet and if I’m organised the night before I can fit in exercise first thing.  So before I say I can't do something in future, I'm going to stop myself, look at how I can adapt to the circumstances around me and adopt more of a positive, can do attitude.

Rachel Ryan, Senior Associate:

Separate work from home

It’s always a bit nerve-wracking when you start a new job, but doing so during lockdown has been even more unusual! I started at SPEY having never met any of my new colleagues, even my interview was done online. But it’s been great. Everyone has been really welcoming and made me feel like I’m part of the (virtual) team. However, that’s not to say that I’ve found prolonged home working all that simple.

It’s been too easy to go straight from bed to my laptop, and from my laptop to watching TV on the sofa. I’ve struggled with the lack of a change of scenery and it’s hard to shut off at the end of the day. Remote working is great, and convenient for many reasons, but I’ve learned over the last few months that I need to put some distance between my work day and my home life - whether that’s moving my desk (a huge help) or getting out and stretching my legs before I make dinner. All work and no play isn’t good for anyone!

Kathryn Wilkie, Senior Associate:

Enjoy the present

Lockdown has been a strange but insightful experience - both personally and professionally.  Being an agile agency has worked in our favour when it comes to remote working as productivity has been unaffected and working from home has its perks. I do look forward to working with the team in person again soon though, as so much creativity comes from face to face interaction. I've learnt a lot about trying to enjoy the present moment more - I suppose you could compare that to the mentality of a really happy dog that's loving life simply by enjoying precious company with loved ones, cooking really tasty food or being buzzing about going out for a walk!

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