A roundup of our ‘Navigating the Now and Next’ event – Thursday 24 June

The eighth in the series of PM+M’s ‘Navigating the Now and Next’ events took place on Thursday 24 June, aimed at helping businesses manage the ongoing challenges of the present and understand what support is available as we look to the future.

Our recent session, hosted by PM+M’s Neil Welsh and The Landmark, welcomed panellists Nicola Mason (Napthens), Rachel Kay (LoveLocal), Helen McVey (Pendleside Hospice), Phil Lynas (Mind & Business/Six Connections) and Jill Morris (PM+M), to guide people-focused discussions around the rise of hybrid working and events, with an emphasis on the need to keep talking, keep collaborating and keep supporting each other.

Nicola Mason (Napthens) opened the discussions by describing the journey she has been on in her role as HR & Operations Director over the past 15 months. Nicola described the sense of urgency for the Government roadmap of ‘Freedom Day’ on 19 July to go ahead, as her team are missing the office and human contact in general, following a long stint of working from home. However, if the 19 July plans do go ahead, there any many questions which need to be answered in terms of what the ‘hybrid’ model of working will look like. For example, what changes will need to be made in the office and how can we ensure all employees are communicated to at the same time when located in different places?

Nicola also discussed the need for everyone to assess their work/life balance, especially when working from home, as in her experience, people are working longer and harder whilst away from the office. It is essential for people to ensure a separation between work and home, and make sure time is being allocated for family, hobbies etc (away from the work laptop or phone) for their own mental wellbeing.

Panellist, Rachel Kay (LoveLocal), discussed the challenges she has faced in the past 18 months related to running a business which is built heavily around events – one of which has already been cancelled four times since March 2020. Rachel described the need to be skilled in ‘firefighting’ and ‘picking yourself up’ to get through difficult times during the pandemic, but also credited ‘virtual coffees’ and reaching out to friends in helping her cope with the challenges faced.

Helen McVey (Pendleside Hospice) described how the impact of Covid-19 has impacted the hospice, both operationally and from a funding perspective. Helen looked back at March 2020 and outlined how she predicted a £1million deficit in funding for 2020, despite an increase of a third in requests for beds and a 25% increase in requests for support at home. Although the Government did eventually increase funding for hospices, the support from businesses and fundraisers over the past year, when the hospice didn’t know if it would be able to survive, has been outstanding.

One of the main sources of income in terms of fundraising for the hospice is through events, of which all were unfortunately cancelled in 2020. Helen described her excitement to get the green light for events to go ahead again soon, both for an increase in fundraising, but also to get everyone (physically) together again.

Additionally, Helen highlighted ways in which businesses can support Pendleside Hospice, explaining that it doesn’t always have to be financial aid. Recently, BT provided assistance at the hospice by washing vans and gardening – an excellent example of assistance which would be greatly received, whilst also benefiting the business through promoting teamwork and bonding. Additionally, taking part in events such as the Corporate Challenge can be a great way for companies to get involved in fundraising. Events like this are also proven to increase employee satisfaction rates and wellbeing at work – promoting a sense of community.

Phil Lynas (Mind & Business/Six Connections) described his experience of starting a business ‘by accident’ in 1999, selling his shares 15 years later, and feeling a sense of loss. Phil described how semi-retiring in 2016 was like his own mini ‘lockdown’ – when the phone stopped ringing and emails dried up, he decided he needed physical human contact and interaction. This, paired with a desire to help people, saw the introduction of Six Connections. A business whereby individuals can send their mate a beer or a packet of biscuits to say “I’m here for you”. The product then includes a QR code which takes the recipient to a website offering support and help – a great way to start a conversation if you are worried about someone’s mental health, or they haven’t been themselves lately.

Jill Morris (PM+M) described how cloud accounting has been a ‘godsend’ to businesses throughout the pandemic, removing the need for paperwork and the need to be in the office, as the majority of people have been working from home. Access to the cloud can be given to various employees who are then able to upload their own data – it’s no surprise that Jill described a surge in demand for cloud services during the pandemic.

Additionally, Jill describes how her team at PM+M saw a need for app integrations as it became clear that clients and their employees would be working for home for prolonged periods of time. Therefore PM+M partnered with apps such as Futrli, Fluidly and others, providing clients with improved approval of purchases, cashflow management, reporting etc – keeping businesses moving and improving functionality when it was needed the most.

All in all, the eighth in the series of ‘Navigating the Now and Next’ highlighted the need for everyone to continue connecting with people, on a business level, but also, and even more importantly, a personal level.

Hybrid was the buzzword of the day – we are definitely looking forward to more hybrid working and  more hybrid events soon! As was the consensus with the audience today, keep talking, keep collaborating and talk to someone if you need to.

Should you wish to discuss your own situation, or seek advice for your business, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing enquiries@pmm.co.uk

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