4 lessons COVID-19 reminded me about business

4 lessons COVID-19 reminded me about business

By Jennifer Gilmore – Managing Director, Gilmore Interior Design


“We only know what we know when we need to know it.” – Stephen Denning

Being at the forefront of an Interior Design studio for nearly 30 years comes with its challenges and learnings. The sudden arrival of COVID-19 was certainly an eye opener that put everything I knew in perspective.

Here are my main lessons from this period:

#1: DAILY COMMUNICATION IS PARAMOUNT.

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” – H.E. Luccock

We are all guilty of taking technology for granted. But it’s when you have key members of the team working remotely that a quick phone call or Zoom session to check in can make all the difference and bring a team together.

Not only this daily check in ensures the team is aligned with the business priorities, it also gives everyone a well needed morale boost. Amongst the unexpected activities we’ve recently had via video, our office birthday celebration was definitely a memorable one.

We have been fortunate enough to keep the office open thanks to our generous floor plan that allows for the necessary personal distancing and some of the team living locally. This meant we were able to have rotating project teams coming into the office, whilst the rest of us stayed in contact thanks to the technology we have so easily available.

#2: ORDER = PURPOSE

“For every minute spent organiSing, an hour is earned.” – Anonymous

I have always been a planner, who likes to finish the day by making a list of tasks to complete the following day.

Having worked remotely on and off for years I’m a big advocate for staying focussed and optimising the extra time (usually spent on the commute) you gain when working from home, by using it to implement habits that will keep your mind clear and increase your productivity.

Small, daily habits like:

  • Having your daily lists up to date
  • Keeping an eye on your week’s priorities
  • Staying on top of your diary, blocking enough time for all your tasks (including reviews, phone chats, etc)
  • Ensuring your work station at home is clear and functional

… are the building blocks of efficiency. These habits create a sense of order and help you start each day with a clear mindset and purpose.

#3: WHEN WE SHARE, WE GAIN.

I believe that the greatest crime is to learn something that can significantly benefit other people, yet share it with no one – Mike Pettigrew

When it comes to running a business, I learned over the years that the more we share, the more we gain. With the quick arrival of COVID-19 and its restrictions; entire businesses, communities, staff and families had to quickly adapt and find solutions together to make it possible to keep operating.

Speaking to other business leaders, my team and suppliers, it became clear to me that, when faced with common adversity, people tend to open up more, sharing their doubts, fears and solutions.

This unity is something that made me appreciate our community even more and just how important it is to navigate these uncertain times together.

#4: YOUR BUSINESS IS ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR TEAM.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Being an Interior Design studio, my business is, very fortunately, made of natural problem-solvers. Quickly to adapt, the team continued to produce work as per the original time schedules, without any compromise.

This commitment and dedication amazed and touched me – especially considering mothers with small children at home. When you have to juggle your entire workload from home, around home schooling and other parental duties, the discipline required to carry on is admirable.  

I’m incredibly proud of the team I built around me, and I’m certain that it’s the calibre and the commitment of each team member that makes it possible for any business to thrive under difficult circumstances.

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