Was it just one year? So much to mark, remember and learn. A business that’s taught itself to thrive under lockdown. And 26 editions of a newsletter – or storyboard if you want a more colourful description – that’s turned into the truest reflection of who we are, the stuff we believe in, and what we know. Here’s that story, as 3 lessons and 3 wishes for the future.
The first birthday of The Clec also marks the first birthday of the COVID lockdown. That’s no coincidence. As we’ve already written, the joyful, collaborative effort of producing our fortnightly storyboard – and the original content (like this) that always heads it up – has bound us as a team, kept us thinking together, talking together, joking together. Kept up an affinity that stretches well beyond the world of work and clients.
That got us thinking. What else, on this double anniversary, is there to celebrate? What can we look back on – tough as it may be – and smile about? And what can we look forward to now that vaccination programs offer us a way out of the hermetic lives we’ve all been living?
Discoveries and rediscoveries
Not any old trust. The kind of trust that in a winning sports team, allows a player to throw a blind pass confident a team mate is running on to it. The sort of trust that puts hierarchies in their (not nearly so significant) place. It feels like a slightly anarchic but good natured genie has been freed from its bottle. We’re doing better at spontaneity, creativity and problem solving. It’s also slightly scary. Notwithstanding, we’re fuelling it not frustrating it. Watch this space.
When we gave ourselves permission to be kinder to ourselves and to others, we set off a little cascade of other helpful behaviours too. Being able to be more open about our feelings. More honest about our challenges. Less judgemental and more supportive. It is another work in progress, with benefits here and now, and little victories to celebrate most days. Shout out to Matthew, who started this conversation and makes sure we keep it out front and on the level.
3 Digital affinities
The technology we’re all using to keep us connected has two textures: velvet one side, and sandpaper the other. We want flesh and blood people around us again. When we have choices, and when we find our true equilibrium, it will be to our blend of digital velvet and human warmth.
We’ve discovered that the best digital ‘water cooler’ moments are the ones you don’t plan. So we’ve upturned protocol by encouraging chatty, spontaneous moments in every kind setting, from meeting to brainstorms to whatever.
And we’ve found at least one kind of digital encounter that is more intimate, creative, and productive than the in-person sort. Mingling in the same document, the same sentence even, in the very same moment and in silence (no video or audio) with co-creators is quite magical. It produces a sort of hypnotic focus, and sense of connection with hints of the telepathic. It’s very freeing and democratising too: it’s easy to contribute, and no one gets to dominate. Maybe a particular flavour of what folks have called ‘silent meetings’, it’s definitely a keeper.
Things that’ll really make a difference moving forward
Okay, so, hugs, haircuts, meals out, messing about with mates, the pub, Sunday lunch at Mum’s, weekends away – of course. But also:
Communities, old and new
More than neighbourhoods, these are all kinds of groups that we’ve new-found affiliation with. The community of healthcare workers…we bet you’re prouder to know one nurse than ten prime ministers. All of those delivery drivers, and postmen and women, whose names and faces you’ve learned. Then there’s the Peloton community, the Zwift community – all the places and people you’ve turned to for the sake of your fitness and wellbeing. We’ve been building a broader and stronger community of creative collaborators, which we aim to expand further in the weeks and months ahead.
Protecting our own biggest learnings
It’s been hard won, but we’ve all learnt a lot about ourselves and the way we work best. Before we get sucked back into whatever the new style work will look like, let’s make a promise to ourselves that we’ll keep the good stuff. Mid morning yoga, walks to spark ideas, proper ‘time out’ thinking time – if you’ve hit on a formula that helps you, don’t let go of it.
Different shaped days
The joy of a calendar when you don’t know exactly where you’ll be or what you’ll be doing in every blank square of it. Embracing a world when we can step out further than the local shops, and meet up with people outside of our bubbles. The idea that soon we might be spending time away from our own four walls and keyboards is almost giddying. Let’s appreciate it.
Maybe what that all adds up to is this: nothing good ever happens, without change. The upheaval of the pandemic took away certainty, challenged common sense, and broke all our rules. As individuals, as businesses and as a society, we had to search for new answers. We got used to trying and winning, and to trying and losing. We built hope from ingenuity, and resilience in the face of uncertainty. Above all, beyond anything else, let’s carry that forward.