Norfolks Voice

Lockdown Lessons – 1 year on

What has the past 12 months taught businesses? And can these lockdown lessons help business growth? We asked some of our members and the wider Norfolk business community to find out.

The pandemic has sometimes felt like a game of two halves. While some businesses have flourished or have been launched during the year of lockdowns, others have felt a decline or even have shut up shop for good.  

Covid-19 has inflicted misery on many, but at the same time has given rise to opportunity. Businesses quickly adapted to holding internal and external meetings virtually via Teams or Zoom, employers realised that flexible working has many benefits to productivity, and all of us have been given time to reflect, embrace new ways of working and pivot our businesses. Many of us will come out of this with renewed resilience and the mindset to do things differently.  

For example, Greater Anglia Managing Director Jamie Burles has recently reflected on how in the past 12 months the company has introduced new trains and has improved its green credentials <Link to article> 

We invited Norfolk businesses and the Norfolk Chambers team to share their lockdown learnings with us across our social media platforms. Here we have selected a few that we believe can help businesses build back better. We hope that the selection below resonates with you and inspires you to think of ways we can take the learnings from the past 12 months to build a renewed and energised business community that aspires growth and prosperity.  


Developing a new mindset 

I’ve learned that some organisations adapted and thrived while other similar ones retrenched; the mindset of leaders is the defining difference.” Chris Elliot of The Feed CIC.  

Harnessing the power of community  

“In a word, community, the help from others. When everything is changing and unknown, rapidly, and uncontrollably you are not alone. Community steps in with support, advice, understanding, experience, and buckets of kindness.” Chris Sargisson of Norfolk Chambers of Commerce. 

We already knew that Community over Competition was the way forward but this last year has proved this without a doubt! We feel so much stronger due to using our time building strong connections with some amazing local organisations, groups and services, stronger together!  

We agree that building strong connections is paramount to future success” The Village Orchard CIC 

 

Finding opportunities 

“When face to face events stopped, we've learned how to use technology to connect with and support our members in new ways! Ourselves and all our members have shown how adaptable they are throughout and we are so proud of all of them!” Buy Local Norfolk  

“How to use Zoom for not just meetings but to create training videos and run social media workshops. It helped us shape our business during lockdown, but also opens up opportunities for hosting online events such as networking alongside face to face when the world opens up.” SocialZesh  

 

The power of learning  

I think for us there have been many lessons, not least of which is the importance of getting a product out into the market and then refining. Having a learning culture and a growth mindset is paramount for this.” Turning Factor 

We have developed a number of skills over lockdown by completing a range of courses - which have led to signing up for additional courses!” Wayne Stannett of Reagit 

Finding opportunities and continuing to learn. I lost a lot of work due to the pandemic. But it also became the opportunity to learn CGI software and add new elements to what I can offer clients. I have since had work that wouldn't have come about without the CGI skills. I've also discovered that learning it is fun!” Joe Lenton Photography 

 

Collaboration  

There have also been some amazing collaborations (and new businesses started from that), that would never have happened if there hadn't been a pandemic! Support comes from those you expect, but also least expected! There have been some absolute angels out there both business and personally! I'm so proud of Norfolk and the business community and how resilient they are, we should never take it for granted.” Lizzy Dring of Norfolk Chambers of Commerce 

Developing a multi-skilled and flexible workforce 

“We've learned to look beyond the job title. 

“An abundance of creative talent has been unearthed as team members have taken on tasks outside of their job description as we adjusted and adapted. 

“We're definitely capturing that - harnessing these newly found creative skills and re-writing the roles to include more flexibility means we are growing a team of individuals who can reach their own potential and bring fresh thinking. Important when you work alongside neurodivergent minds. 

“Evolving in the right way whilst remaining true to the values underpinning the organisation have been critical for us. 

Amy Eleftheriades of Alpha Inclusion and Communication 

 

Wellbeing in the workplace 

That after living through the utter uncertainty of a pandemic, then all other fears can be overcome. It's encouraged me to feel braver to step out of my comfort zone, reminded me that after this, anything is possible. It's also really emphasised for me the importance of building and maintaining positive and proactive wellbeing habits - in good times and bad. The efforts you make during good times will get you through tougher days.” The Engaging People Company