Surviving challenging times: a look back at 2020

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Recognised as the year of the unknown, 2020 has brought a number of challenges for businesses and individuals across the globe. As the year comes to an end, managing director Gordon Christie reflects on the lessons learned throughout 2020 and provides his predictions for the year ahead.

“It goes without saying that this year has been like no other. From a personal or business perspective, Covid-19 has had a massive impact on all our lives.

“In the initial stages of lockdown, my first thoughts were with my staff and their families, but that quickly moved on to my customers and their businesses. Some of our clients had the fundamentals in place for working from home but a lot of them needed urgent IT support.

“This was a real opportunity to show our clients how we add value to their business. We adapted our service offering really quickly – as soon as we heard whispers of a lockdown we had staff assessing clients’ IT strategies, identifying steps required to ensure they could continue operations with minimal disruption. One of the things that I’m proudest of is that we were able to help our clients’ staff get ready to work from home, setting up their systems securely whilst providing all of the necessary support without charging any additional fees.

“For me, it wasn’t about making money or growing the business. It was about supporting my clients and ensuring that they had the tools required to allow them to continue operating.”

Adapting to change

“I think the biggest challenge that IT Hotdesk has overcome is communication. We’re a tight-knit team and have a lot of face-to-face meetings rather than sending each other emails. Utilising Microsoft Teams and introducing daily catch-ups has helped considerably, but it’s not the same as meeting in person.

“It’s difficult to read a tone or get a true understanding of someone’s wellbeing through an email or computer screen. So as a business owner, I had to really adapt the way in which I communicated with the team. My employees’ wellbeing is paramount, so this quickly went to the top of my list.”

Introducing new services

“They say that the price of doing the same thing is far higher than the price of change, and I have to agree. Working from home has opened businesses up to a new level of security risks and we had to protect our customers. Although we’ve always managed our clients’ cybersecurity, the focus has always been conservative. That is until 2020 when the majority of the UK packed up their office and moved home.

“I knew what we had to do. We had to fast track our expansion plans, grow our service offering, and hire an industry expert to lead the team. I won’t pretend that heavily investing in the business when times were uncertain wasn’t scary. But I believe that in business there will be times that you don’t have all of the answers, therefore sometimes you have to go with your gut.”

Achieving growth

“I recognised early on that if I wanted the business to achieve the goals set out at the beginning of the year, we would have to change the way we approached business development.

“At the moment, a lot of new enquiries have been made online. People can’t attend physical networking events but it is important that we continue to promote our business.

“Reinvesting the budget that was assigned to events and tradeshows in content creation has been a big thing for us. We wanted to make sure that both our clients and potential clients had access to a suite of educational blogs. We’re now providing guidance to our customers on popular topics, such as cybersecurity and maximising staff productivity when working from home, and it’s proven really popular.

“Unbelievably, we have retained all of our clients in 2020 and added a few new faces. This has been one of the most challenging years that I’ve ever faced in my career, so to achieve growth is incredible.”

The key to our success

“Hard work, and dedication to our staff and customers. The ability to adapt to the circumstances and put our client first has been key to our success. Making sure that our own business is ok was one thing, but supporting our clients with the technology required to continue operating has been a massive focus for IT Hotdesk.

“I follow a work hard play hard motto. Our team works hard but it’s important that staff still have fun and enjoy what they’re doing at the same time. By providing a positive work environment, the team is more satisfied in their role and deliver a better quality of service to our clients.”

What am I proud of?

“This has to be my staff. I am unbelievably proud of the way they have taken everything in their stride. This year has challenged the strongest of people, but I can honestly say that every single member of staff has delivered a consistently high level of service to our clients.”

2020 in one sentence

“If I had to sum up my lessons learned during 2020 it would be, “We cannot control the unknown, therefore we cannot be afraid of it. Life and business must go on. In order to survive and support each other, we must assess situations regularly, adapt quickly, and always think about others as well as ourselves.”

What will 2021 bring?

“Although I do not have a crystal ball, I would have to predict that 2021 will bring a lot of the same challenges that we’ve faced in the past year, or at least for quarters one and two.

“Love it or hate it, home working is here to stay. Flexible working was once seen as an employee benefit but I predict that it will now be seen as a requirement. Hybrid working and splitting your time between the office and home will now be recognised as the new norm. This will likely lead to changes in hours of work and the way that some businesses operate. As a result, we may need to review our service offering and how we support our clients.

“If there’s one thing that 2020 has taught me, it’s that we have to adapt and change in order to thrive.”

 

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