Like most of you I have found the last few months completely different. My heart goes out to those who have suffered loss personally and/or been heavily hit commercially by the virus.
I have also had my patience tested to the limits with home schooling (which is shoe-horned somehow around work), painted the house a funny colour and never walked so much in my life. My family and I though are very lucky to live somewhere where we can escape into the great outdoors and actually have the time to appreciate it.
As far as work goes we are also on the whole very lucky. We rely mainly on people needing to eat (agriculture) and the grass growing (ground care). Sadly the 3rd area is travel (travel retail) which as you can imagine is another story and has been completely closed down and with no real prospect of an early solution. But we are in the fortunate position of not having to furlough any staff.
What we have been as an agency and group of companies though is very creative and agile. I have been delighted with just how well things have worked with the team. On 16th March I warned staff that we might have to all work remotely at some point very soon. The next day, some of the staff were tucking all their IT and telecoms equipment under their arms and heading off to set up home offices.
By the end of that week we were fully operational and had come up with the #lockdownLearning initiative with our colleagues at Eat Farm Now (since been adopted by the BBC and many others). We have been developing content ideas like the weekly kids series “Why are farmers so smelly?” with Charlie Baker. We even managed to rope in Countryfile’s Adam Henson who was Charlie’s second victim.
Since then we have been doing all we can to keep the ground care and ag machinery industry connected in the UK by chairing weekly calls (yes sorry, on Zoom) with key manufacturers and dealers. And in the next few weeks we will be distributing our free insight report on perceptions of tractor brands. The team is thriving on solving the challenges that this unusual situation has created. It has been incredibly busy.
Now, if you had asked me 6 months ago if a media and content agency could work effectively under these circumstances I would have given you a big “NO”. Well, I have not only painted the house grey, but this week we move out of our offices in Pipe House. Our offices happened to be out of contract and when the landlord’s agent emailed me, two weeks into lockdown with a proposition to sign up for another five years and nearly doubling the rent, I politely declined. In reality there couldn’t be a better time to move out as everything is working smoothly without the offices.
So, I guess I am announcing that as of today (Friday 22nd May 2020) we are temporarily “no fixed abode” and I am genuinely excited about it.
It means that we have options for when things settle down (and no one really knows when that will be). We will re-settle somewhere when this happens and we are all thoroughly sick of Zoom and Teams! But in the meantime, we are not paying rent, rates and insurance on 2,000 sq feet of unused offices.
We are trying to “Work Smarter” which funnily enough is the theme of our Service Dealer Conference in November. I wonder what shape and form that is going to be? Who knows, but the content we have lined up is going to be spot on.