One year since lockdown
Today, March 23rd, marks one year since the initial UK Lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19. It has been a strange year (unprecedented, you could say) and it has changed so much for so many. When the lockdown was first announced, it was thought that the twelve week period would be enough to ‘turn the tide of coronavirus’ and protect the public.
With policy changes and virus mutations, the UK has been affected significantly longer than the anticipated three month span. In the past year, we’ve been in national lockdown three times and experienced varying levels of local restrictions in between. There have been riots, wildfires and Brexit. The amount of global unrest has been amplified by the effects of Covid-19. But it hasn’t all been bad. Throughout this bizarre year, there have still been wonderful things like Captain Sir Tom Moore raising over £38.9 million for the NHS. Air quality improved in many cities around the world. Weddings still happened, babies were born, and everybody seems to know how to make bread now. And, here at FLM, we learned so much about being there for our clients, working as a team and coming together, even as we had to stay socially distant. We asked our colleagues to reflect on the year to tell us about their experiences and what they’ve learned. This is what the FLM team had to say: Trishna Hirani, Tax Adviser “I have learnt that I absolutely love FLM – hahaha! Doing interviews with newbies and speaking to the new joiners, I learnt that I actually get really passionate about FLM. In terms of my character, I think I have gained significantly more confidence in the last year. I am more willing to speak up in the correct forums as I want the company to grow and do well. This year has definitely helped strengthen the relationships with clients. Lockdown has meant clients were more willing to have phone or video calls, especially at the beginning as there was so much uncertainty but overall, I have definitely spoken to the majority of my clients more this year and built much stronger relationships with them.” Sangeeta Berou, Tax Adviser “I have been surprised at how well I adjusted to working from home – I’ve never considered myself as someone who would have the discipline to be able to do so, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it. However, it was difficult to learn how to just switch off; travel to the office made you think about your day ahead and the journey home helped you to leave it at the office. It has been so much easier to speak with clients as they seem to have much better availability, and, because of the casual nature of a video call, I think the conversations have been very comfortable. I have gotten to know them on a better personal level too.” Dickon Gough, Senior Business Development Executive “I think there was, and still is, a huge fear for a great many people. Not just about Covid, but about work and the lack of it. About the future, I’ve learned that the need for understanding, for empathy, has grown immensely. Perhaps that success can only come from a combined understanding of people's emotions and fears. If, as a company, and as people, we can help each other more, be there for each other more, then perhaps this depressing year will have been worth it.” Jessica Griswood, Tax Adviser “We were SO lucky to be able to get married amongst all of the craziness! Even though it wasn’t the wedding we had originally planned, we were so pleased that we were able to celebrate with our nearest and dearest and it made it all the more special. I’d say this last year has strengthened my relationships with clients. The great thing about zoom is that we have still been able to communicate, and where we are all at home, it’s a much more relaxed atmosphere.” Will Holden, Associate Adviser “For me, drawing the line between work and personal time was a challenge. I found they could very easily merge into one when you were living and working in the same space. But I’ve learnt I am more adaptable than I thought, and that self-discipline is my key to getting the most out of each workday. If anything, I think the year has brought me closer to a lot of clients. We’ve now seen each other in our homes (and sporting some questionable home haircuts!), and I think their trust in me and in FLM has grown.” Sally Smithson, HR Director “Coming back from maternity leave halfway through last year raised different challenges from playing catch up with the new way of working, getting up to speed on all the COVID regulations, ensuring staff were OK without physically seeing them, and switching my brain back into work mode having been off for 10 months. Over time this has got easier due to a supportive team and embracing the positives of the different working environment and technology. Getting together as a company even over zoom has been great in many ways. We have run quite a few different focus groups over the last six months, and actually, the level of engagement has been high due to diaries being easier to navigate because of the lack of travel time attending external meetings. We have also run some virtual social events which have been good fun and a great opportunity to talk to colleagues about something other than work.” Olivia Saltmarsh, Project Manager “I learnt that FLM is really in my corner, the company completely supported me through personal and professional challenges and were so open to me going down a different path. I also learnt that no matter how many times I start Couch to 5k, I’m not going to start enjoying running. I think this year has reminded me that you really have to take every opportunity to enjoy life. I’m never saying no to plans with friends and family again! But I have learnt how to enjoy a slower pace of life sometimes too and how to spend more time with myself.” James Withington, Operations Manager “FLM has definitely put their people first over the last year and it makes you proud to work as part of the company. I've seen the true value of checking in with people as many relationships have flourished and I've managed to maintain oversight of teams and the business during a move to virtual working. After becoming a father in September 2019, it has been an amazing opportunity to have been present to witness our daughter grow and develop each day. Not many fathers are able to be home during the early years of their children’s lives so that has been a blessing.” Throughout this year, we have been very grateful for the opportunity to get to know our clients even better and to develop those relationships through these trying times. FLM is dedicated to making lives better and we are glad to have been a part of that for both clients and our team. This year of unprecedented events has been a difficult one, but our resilient team and our wonderful clients have made it through together.