May you live in interesting times…

As of today, all of our Homies have been working from home for a full week – and some for even longer than that. Below is a message from our Group Chairman, Dave, which we received last week. A lot of Homies found it to be a reassuring message in an uncertain time, and it even gave us a bit of a chuckle, so we wanted to share it with you too…

‘May you live in interesting times’ is a Chinese proverb which I’ve nicked a lot over the years. But not this bloody interesting!

How is everyone? A bit anxious? Concerned about what’s going to happen over the next weeks and months? Worried about older or poorly relatives? Well, I guess there would be something wrong if you weren’t. I’m sure the whole world is. I’m not going to comment on whether we, as a society are handling this well. It’s for individuals to make that judgement. And I’m not going to speculate on how long this will last before it gets better. Nobody really knows. What I do know is that we have control over how we choose to react to difficult situations. And I think our reactions and actions over the last few weeks have been the right ones. I’m proud of how we’ve all handled this difficult situation.

By now, all Homies are working from our dwellings. This will be an interesting experience for most. I’ve been doing it quite a lot over the years and some days I’m brilliant and other days the dishwasher needs emptying. And some days the horse racing won’t watch itself! We’ll be communicating a lot about good practice, and asking you to share your experiences. Fundamentally, we still need to be a brilliant provider of marketing services to our loyal customers. But one point I want to make is don’t be too hard on yourself if you have an off day. We’re all human and this is new. Take the time to find your feet. And communicate a lot with each other. Amy showed me how to use Teams properly yesterday (she mentioned in passing it was like showing her grannie how to text, which was nice) but this and other tools should be used extensively. Actually, I’ll make two points. Go outside regularly. Take a walk, a jog, a bike ride. And don’t be shy about telling your team “I’m going to get some fresh air for an hour, logging off…”.

On the subject of WFH, a massive amount of work has been done, often out of hours by Kaley, Tosh, Phil and their teams. A huge thank you to them for getting us in a position where we can continue looking after our clients through this period. I’d like to make a special shout out for Tom and his trusty partner Alex, very well aided by Barry. While Tom’s cheery demeanor makes some people think he’s quite a laid back lad, he has to be incredibly intense in his work with Alex and Bazza getting us IT ready. Lots of long days and sacrifices have been made for us and that will continue to be the case as we work through this. Could you all put your hands together as a thank you to them. Go on do it. It will feel weird but who cares, you’ll know you did it*.

I’ve been asked a lot about the damage this will do to the businesses. The short answer is a lot. There’s no hiding from that. Most companies are in unchartered territories and may well hunker down and keep their marketing powder dry. That said, there is a bit of good news with some sectors reviewing what’s happening in Italy and now saying “turn the taps on!”. So, it’s not all doom and gloom, but we are going to take a financial hit. The good news is we’re in great shape to weather it. Being a tight Yorkshire company means that we have kept enough cash in the vaults for such an occasion as this. We want to make sure that when we come out of the other side, and we will, that we’re in the best shape possible to take advantage of the opportunities that will be there for us. You’ll see in the press over the coming weeks that lots of businesses, including in our sector, will scale back massively. We’re going to do everything we can to avoid that. We’ve worked hard for 18 years to get the Group into such amazing shape. We won’t be giving that up without a huge fight.

It’s likely that there will be work capacity across the board and we have some teams looking at proactive initiatives to fill that space. Projects that will help our clients and demonstrate our commitment to them. That will be exciting. Oh, and do that filing you never get around to doing. Learn something new.

Thank you for showing great tenacity so far. The Directors and shareholders will support you all we possibly can, so shout with what you need from us. And just as importantly, support each other. I’ve had masses of hugely positive comments about how the ‘More Than Me’ attitude has kicked in big time. Character comes out when you’re tested. We’ll be stronger as individuals, and as a Group on the other side.

Thank you everybody. You’re ace.

*Did you clap?

Written by:

Dave Sewards Group Chairman


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