There's certain things we are doing now during the coronavirus outbreak, whilst working from home, that I think we should continue when the world gets back to normal and we're working from the studio again.
Whether it's Zoom or Skype, they're awesome tools for business. I truly believe in building client relationships and face to face contact has an effect on that. The lockdown has taught me though, that a lot of jobs requests do NOT need meetings. By arranging more video conferences it will allow us to keep in contact with clients, still have that quick chat about football or family life, and discuss the work at hand. But most importantly, it will cut out travel time. I try to arrange as many face to face meetings as possible as it's my role to look after clients, but sometimes I do come out of meetings that lasted 3 hours thinking "that could have just been sent over via email".
It's not a case of stopping our meetings, just a case of arranging more zoom calls, and even suggesting Zoom or Skype instead of a normal phone call.
I also think it's good to see people in their home environments, with the dog, the kids shouting in the background, in their comfortable clothing. It makes business more natural in some sense. I think it feels more like a conversation rather than a 'formal meeting'.
I wrote this article explaining why we haven't upscaled our design studio. And it's still true today. I see A LOT of articles every day about growth, building your business to be bigger. Some agencies make a decision for many reasons, that they do not want to be bigger. Being bigger doesn't automatically mean you are better. And this time during COVID-19 has made me even entrepreneurial than ever. It's made me focus on what we need to improve here at MadeByShape and action them. This needs to continue after lockdown too. To refine our skills, to improve our offering, to improve our services and client partnerships. We've started working on some changes that I will be very proud to release later in the year.
I'm going to continue buying tinned pears. During COVID-19 I have fell in love with them.
At our studio, we work open plan - so we have an open working area so everybody can discuss projects and interact. We then have separate areas for the Kitchen, Seating area for downtime, a meeting room and storage room. As we're not next to each other whilst working from home, we've put more focus onto our daily tasks. Our workflow is pretty much the same to be honest, but because I'm not able to just walk past a computer and have a quick look at someones work - it means I need to specify tasks and times for deadlines more strictly. I think this has worked well for us. Because everybody can see all tasks, so it create a bit of competition also. As if you're shown to not hit your targets - your peers will know. It makes people try that little bit harder.
We use Trello for team tasks and it's working really well for us. So although we did use this in the studio, I think I'll use it even more when we're back. And try to enforce times and dates for deadlines more strictly. It also allows me to specify exactly what day they should be doing jobs if I've told a client a specific date, and it also allows me to allocate a time if needed. So the individual knows they only have 7 hours to work on that job if need be. Anything over, means we're not making money.
If we were in a lockdown during November then I think this would be a completely different scenario. We should be grateful that the sun has been shining on us. I'm also very lucky to have a garden and outdoor space. But what I think I'd like to do when back 'at work' is to set my alarm and go to the gym before work. Normally, I would get us early and just do emails, read a few articles and then go to work. But sometimes that decision to go to the gym after work becomes a lot harder because I'm either tired, can't be bothered, ate too much food in the nice restaurant I've just been too with a client etc. excuses excuses excuses. So I think getting the gym out of the way early in the morning might put a bit more structure and consistency to my workouts. This can't always happen by the way with family life - but I'll try.
I have also got the mountain bike out the shed for the first time in 15 years and it works! haha. So I think switching my outdoor exercises up between bike rides, running and hiit sessions keeps my brain sane.
This should be a set thing in the diary from now on, it's so funny. And I might also attend a few pub quizzes also.
This period of lockdown has realised how much I can actually save per month. Although the food bill has been close to ridiculous every week.