Insights

Building strength in adversity

Company

Granite 5 is now in its 20th year of business, and if there is one thing that I have learnt in this time, it’s that you never know what’s around the corner. We’ve had our ups and downs, made it through several recessions and overcome our fair share of challenges along the way, but our business is in a strong position and I’m confident that not only will we weather this storm, but we will come out the other side stronger.

“The British Chamber of Commerce has warned that 6 out of 10 marketing agencies will suffer from significant cash flow problems within the next 3 months. However, a new report from Plimsoll reports Granite 5 among the top 10% of companies with the strongest balance sheets that are in the best position to survive the COVID-19 crisis.”

We wanted to share a quick update with you showing the measures we are taking to ensure we continue to provide excellent levels of support to our customers and protect our business throughout these unprecedented times.

Flexi and remote working

This isn’t new to us as most of the team are used to working remotely, and we have had flexible working hours for the last year so already have processes in place to ensure adequate resources are always available. We decided to start home working the week before lockdown officially began so that we could iron out any problems quickly, getting everyone set up with extra screens, phones, and comfortable chairs and working areas.

Likewise, our mission-critical service providers including Rackspace, Nimbus, Cloudflare and Namesco are also working more remotely and we’re pleased that we haven’t noticed any difference in levels of service or support, and their teams that look after hardware and infrastructure are still permitted to travel under the lockdown guidelines.

The team donning silly hats for our first remote company meeting.

Communications

All of the team are using their same VoIP phones from home so phones are working the same as always, and we already use tools and processes that support remote working, therefore you shouldn’t notice any difference in the day to day running of projects, delivery of support or digital marketing services.

It’s at times like this that you appreciate the online tools you usually take for granted including; Sharepoint, Active Collab, Runn.io, Salesforce, Slack and Zoom.

Communicating with the team is essential at this time so I have taken to sending everyone a company update once a week to keep everyone informed of our progress.

Personnel

We have carefully revisited contingency plans around resourcing, which has included updating processes, documentation and doubling-up on projects and systems to share knowledge amongst the team. We have recently updated records of trusted freelancers and third parties that we might need to call upon for support.

Financial

We quickly set in motion several measures to add extra security, including agreeing to defer the rent on our premises if required and can defer payment of our NI but we don’t think we’ll need to do this.

We have now been granted 3-month empty rates which effectively means that we won’t have to pay rates on the offices whilst we are not using them.

As a service business we have regular income and excellent cash flow, good working capital and reserves should we need them. We have also extended our overdraft just in case, and for extra security are in the process of finalising our CBIL loan.

We’ve streamlined our software and service licensing and are running a tight ship like usual.

Staff wellbeing

Adapting to new remote ways of working can impact our mental health, so we have arranged daily stand-ups for the individual teams, weekly company catch-ups and end of week welfare checks to check-in and keep track of the team’s mental wellbeing.

Regular 1-2-1’s have become even more important and are used to check in on the team but also to ensure regular contact, especially for those living alone. We’re making a bigger deal of birthdays and staff anniversaries to maintain the spirit of the team.

Little things go a long way, like getting surprise Easter chocolates delivered to everyone, having fun on the company catch-ups, and even sending a hammock to one of the team as he claimed it would help him work!… We’ll report further on this in due course.

To summarise, after 4 weeks of lockdown, everyone feels that they are being more productive working from home and we will definitely be re-thinking our working arrangements longer term.

Invest and plan for the future

We’ve asked all team members to do a little more on personal development and are encouraging them to do more online training to expand their knowledge. Everybody also has some bedtime reading, ‘The Crucial Conversations’ book which will help not only internal communications but also with clients.

It’s important at the moment to have a clear sense of direction so we have been looking at our own Vision and Values to ensure our strategy remains in line with them.

But our key focus is marketing. I see so many companies cut back on this when faced with economic uncertainty, but I believe that this is the most important time to invest to make sure we are in a strong position as we start to return to normality.

In the meantime stay safe.