Damian Hall, Chief Operating Officer at AGY47 and Silverbean shares some of what they have done here over the last few weeks, hoping that something, somewhere might help other businesses.

Damien explains their approach here:

“People in every walk of life are making new plans and learning to adapt in what might be hugely challenging circumstances. The world keeps on spinning, but for some it could be spinning very differently.

We are adapting without realising it. Life and business will be different when this is over. We’ll learn much about ourselves as people, business leaders and custodians of our planet. We surely cannot look at the world as we have done before.

As a digital marketing agency with around 60 staff, these are 20 things we have done and continue to think about:

  1. We have taken care of our people as best we can on any given day and in untested times. We certainly won’t get it right every time, but we try to. Our people are precious and we only have them once right now; yesterday has already gone.
  2. We are in an unprecedented situation. People will be scared and uncertain. In times like this, staff look to the senior people for comfort, protection, reassurance and confidence. For many Business Leaders this will be the first time they will make decisions that will directly impact the lives of their people and their families. We have made every decision with a good heart.
  3. When the work environment is changing, the agencies are determined to treat people equally. No matter what our business is doing, everyone is treated exactly the same.
  4. Like many businesses, the agencies have had to furlough some staff. Those involved have had their salaries and staff benefits maintained 100%. That is really important to us. We are all in this together; no one should be prejudiced.
  5. We don’t have all of the answers. If we don’t know, we say so. The team has tried to be completely honest and completely transparent.
  6. Sometimes the only cost is effort. Thankfully, so much is available online. The agencies play bingo, have quizzes and host agency wide video meetings – often just so we can see each other’s faces. People want to help each other and do good things. Let them do it.
  7. Friendships matter. We recognise that people working at home for long periods will miss their work friends. We have an astonishing culture and people will miss their work friends a lot. Invest in whatever you can to bring people together. A picture is worth 1000 words, but a video call is better still.
  8. Keep it positive no matter what. Much of what is happening around us is outside our control. What we can control is how we choose to think about it.
  9. You cannot not influence. Our senior team is a reflection of myself and the CEO, Neil Robbins. That influence will seep down into every part of the business through them. Keep on top of what is happening; this is a global pandemic and unhelpful fake news is just that. People expect those in senior roles to have a view, keep people informed and have one company position.
  10. Sh*t happens. If it does, regroup quickly and march on. The agencies plan for best case, worst case and something in between. Our trading numbers have moved up and down like a yo-yo, in and out like a Fiddlers elbow. We have seen nothing like what we have experienced in the last two weeks ever before. But we’re still here, and after all the moving around the numbers are pretty much where we expected them to be.
  11. If you can, get outside support arranged. The agencies provide one of the best Employee Assistance Programmes we could find. People can access skilled support for themselves and those important to them. If you already have some HR support, it might be part of the package.
  12. Keep it real. We don’t know when this will end, but it will. We have been very upfront in saying that we don’t know what the future looks like yet, but that we are doing our very best to work it out from what is in front of us.
  13. Give people responsibility; they love it. At Silverbean and AGY47, our people have responded in the most astonishing way, without being asked. Work that would have took months is done in days; it doesn’t need to be perfect right now.
  14. Accept that things might not be ideal and tensions might run high. Be kind to each other. Try to walk a mile in each other’s shoes. We all have a life outside work. For many, our personal and professional worlds are bashing around in the same small space, repeatedly, for the first time ever. Things will spill over. Make up quickly, apologise first and understand this is not normal. It will change and we will have learned a lot about each other at work and at home in the process.
  15. Families come first.
  16. It’s quieter for some of us at the moment, so we are using the opportunity to upscale our technical knowledge. Training providers are being incredibly generous and making online courses free; upskilling is easy.
  17. We are sticking to our values. Our social time together is so important here. The agencies are trying hard to get people together as often as we can, to stay positive in mind and behaviour even when we might not feel like it, to have some fun, and to be fair. It’s a work in progress, but we’re giving it a good go.
  18. It would be easy to get caught up in the chaos. For us, we were just about to launch in to the build phase of our Conquer the World Plans. The last couple of weeks really diverted our attention elsewhere, but looking after the business and our people had to happen first. It’s just a small pause and what we have learned in the last few weeks will make us better for what follows. Take stock and use what has happened – experience is priceless.
  19. We have remained in close communication with our customers. Their trading landscape changed almost overnight, and our staff have responded amazingly. Many of our people have never been in this trading environment before, yet they have responded magnificently to help their clients. We had to let them get on with it and trust they’d get it right. And they did.
  20. We have dug ourselves in to the trenches. When this is over, and it will be, we will all look back with a good heart at what we did, how we behaved, how we tried our best to look after each other, and most of all how we got through it. That is the real test after all.”