Out with the old, in with the New Year
By Olivia Manning, Account Executive
New Year’s Eve: A time to pop open the champagne and watch the fireworks cascade over Big Ben as the chanting crowds welcome in the new year. It is a time to reflect on the year that’s been, and make resolutions for the year ahead.
However this time around, in true 2020 style, things will be a bit different. The fireworks have been cancelled, crowds discouraged, and many of us are preparing for yet another evening in Tier 4 lockdown (drinking bubbles only with our household or support ’bubble’).
It is safe to say that 2020 has been one that no one could have predicted, and that many of us are keen to forget. However, as the year draws to a close, and we reflect on the good, the bad, and the downright ugly – here are some key lessons and practices from this year that we should carry forward into 2021, and a few we can firmly leave behind us…
Bring it forward to the new year
- Saying thanks
It seems like a lifetime ago that houses full of people flocked to their driveways to celebrate all the hard work of the NHS and other key workers – the sky alive with applause. However, gratitude doesn’t have to come in large gestures or allocated 7pm timeslots!
Taking the time to thank co-workers, clients and journalists for their time, support and achievements is an important practice, and one that we should make a bigger habit of in the new year. At Touchdown we have a bi-weekly ‘Snap cup’ where we give kudos to one another’s hard work. And, whilst working remotely, this virtual show of appreciation has meant even more.
So whether it’s a quick thanks, a LikedIn like, or an internal celebration, showing gratitude is something we can all endeavour to be better at in 2021.
- Empathy is key
Likewise, this year has taught us the importance of being empathetic and compassionate. Economic uncertainty, the Coronavirus pandemic and resultant lockdowns have affected everyone in some form or another, impacting workplace stress and contributing to rising mental health problems.
Whatever the challenge, when pressures mounted during the pandemic, supporting one-another became a top priority. And, this support should be carried over into the new year. Ringing a client to offer help if they have a problem, sending an empathetic note to a journalist, or having a virtual tea and catch-up with the team, are all ways to show you care. In 2021, we should make a continued effort to see how people are doing. A few seconds of thoughtful chat will help build stronger and more meaningful relationships in the long run.
- The future is virtual, at least partly
While we have really missed in-person meetings with coworkers, clients and stakeholders this year, video calls have been a great way to keep in touch and gauge the more ‘human side’ of these relationships. Putting down the ‘corporate mask’, so to speak.
Internally, whether it is a one-to-one chat about a client, a group planning meeting, or virtual ‘cocktail and canape’ party, keeping a ‘camera on’ policy has kept us well connected and in tune as a team – bringing a touch of office life to our home offices.
And, whilst nothing compares to being together in person, as we continue to work flexibly in the new year, virtual communication will remain crucial.
And now for the things we can leave in 2020…
- ‘Always on’ mentality
Working remotely this year, the barriers between ‘work’ and ‘home’ have become increasingly blurred, meaning that switching off from work has become difficult. When there is lots to do, it is tempting to continue working well into the evening, catching up on admin sitting in front of the TV, or writing an article on a quiet distraction-free Sunday afternoon.
However, when these one-offs become habitual and overworking is the norm, it can not only lead to burnout or ill-health, but it also gives the team unrealistic expectations of how you’re managing your workload. In 2021, it’s time to reevaluate our work-life balance: learn to shut the laptop at the end of the day and ask for help if needed.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that rushing leads to mistakes. Take the global race to create a Covid-19 contact tracing app and the myriad of technical and security problems that came with it! England’s own Covid-19 app was scrapped after just a few weeks in favour of Apple and Google’s.
In the fast-paced world of PR, urgency can be key. But the failures of the Covid-19 app show that there is value in taking your time. At Touchdown, we aim to act fast, but act thoughtfully, and in 2021, we should all put the pressure to rush firmly behind us.
- The C word
Words that we wouldn’t give a second thought to twelve months ago, such as ‘Furlough’, ‘tier’, ‘bubble’ and ‘anti-bac’ now populate our conversations. Whilst it’s important to have topical conversations around the Coronavirus pandemic when relevant, we are tired of talking about it all the time – and I’m sure journalists are too!
In 2021, let’s make things interesting, not stop the conversation – but diversify it! I personally am making it my new year’s resolution for my next Touchdown blog post to not mention the C word!
Happy New Year!
2020 may not have been the year we expected, or the one we wished for – but it has certainly been a year of monumental change that has given us time to evaluate what works, and what doesn’t!
So as we head into the new year, hopefully feeling closer, stronger, and ready to do it all over again, from everybody at Touchdown, we want to wish you a very Happy New Year!