The MM Isolation Chronicles Part Nine – June

Well, that was an interesting fifteen weeks.
Friday 13th March is crystal clear in my memory.

Monthly team meeting.
Best month ever.
New team member.
Discussing 13th Birthday do.
The theme was ‘what could possibly go wrong…’
Buffet lunch.
Lots of laughs.

Getting ready to trial working from home for a day the following week.
“Just in case.”

A few days later we heard schools were closing – 50% of Team MM are working mums – and shit got real.

Real quick.

Buying laptops.
Saving passwords.
Fielding calls from worried clients.

Three new words and concepts to get our heads around – remote working, home schooling and what actually is furlough.

Then they shut the pubs. Sweet baby Jesus.

And then we locked the doors to MM Towers.

And then the whole country was in Lock Down.

The temporary paralysis.
Nine people looking at me for direction.
The 72 hours of ‘wtaf should I do?’

The small voice in my head.

‘Do something’.

I bought some ‘day pyjamas’, a three-season box set and a case of wine. And felt guilty that I was endangering the delivery man

Then the other voice in the head, the grown up one, said ‘do something’.

Plan A – furlough nobody, we must stick together, we’ll be okay – nonsense.
Plan B – furlough everyone, you can do it all yourself – ludicrous.
Plan C – reduce some hours, furlough most, say goodbye to one – not great, but better.

I had to lose someone straight away which hit hard as they had only just joined and reduced the hours of another by 20%. Ouch.

Then three days calling all of our clients to see how they were and what they wanted/needed to do with their ad campaigns, social media and email management and training sessions.

Someone who has been with us for over a decade said, “we can’t cancel June, that’s not fair on you”.

Another said, “but we’re in a contract with you?”
“We will stick with it as long as we can.”
“You can count on us, we’ll all go down fighting together!”

Gulp.

I bloody love my clients.

By 31st March 50% of them were paused. And that was just fine because now I had some real numbers to crunch.

Tidying up loose ends, handing over clients, risk of redundancy letters which were Hell to write and I’m sure even worse to receive, and then as gently as possible I placed five MMers in a the Furlough lifeboat, swallowing down regret and fear and for the first time in MM history, not knowing what the future looked like. Then three of us got on with the job; we still had 25 clients to look after.

Hugh, 23, Key Account Manager and Kate, 18, Level 3 apprentice cranked out 40 hours a piece every week for ten weeks without a day off or an off day.

Impressive doesn’t even begin to describe these two individuals and I will be forever in their debt.

I was also supported from afar by my long time partner in crime Nat (MM2) who dialled up the debt collection just a tad and has been pleasantly surprised by people playing nicely and paying on time, or even early.

And the Furloughed Five? Most of them became home schoolers overnight, they sucked up the 20% pay hit, managed the furlough guilt, and rocked up to the weekly Zoom training.

Oh, and Max had Covid.

I am in awe of all of them.

We then managed the transition from sprint….. to marathon …… to long distance.

We celebrated our 13th Birthday in May virtually with a box of goodies, some questionable games, and lashings of booze. #classicMM

MM Towers opened up again on 1st June and it felt like a Neil Armstrong moment. Socially distanced furniture arrangement, hand sanitiser, reusable soft cotton masks and Dettol wipes by the dozen and a deep clean care of our friends at Minster.

Two of the FFers joined us soon after – hurrah – welcome back people!

We had a ‘Jesus H Christ is it summer already?’ drinks night in June – cheeseboards, meat platters and a brilliant magician.

And booze. There’s always booze.

We had three birthdays during lock down but it would take something bigger than a global pandemic to keep Team MM away from cake, “essential” doorstep deliveries were made.

We now have a plan in place to bring back the rest of the team on flexi-furlough starting today (July 1st) and a staggered plan which will enable us all to be back in place, usual hours, usual pay, usual desk by November 1st. Which feels like forever away but judging by how the weeks are flying will actually be here in no time at all.

The next 13 weeks is looking equally action packed: school holidays, team holidays, onboarding some exciting new customers, un-mothballing (is that a thing?) our precious clients who paused in March, a new website, motivation training

Lessons learned?

Communication is everything.
We really care about our clients and it’s crucial that they feel it.
Tough times don’t last, tough teams do.
Givers gain.
Doing your bit for charity has never been more important.

Thank you to my team, my clients, my networking colleagues, my landlord, to the folks who afforded me payment holidays, to Hour Hands and Pinkham Blair and Caliam HR and Indigo Tree to my networking group Platinum Point and to the business friends who ‘checked in’ – your support has been invaluable, you know who you are.

I said way back in March that in a crisis we see the best of people and the worst of people.
Ain’t that the truth.

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