It’s been an interesting and challenging period for us all, to say the least, over the last year. In this blog, Regional Operations Manager Dave Francis shares his lockdown experience and looks forward to a brighter 2021 and beyond!
When we first locked down in March I don’t think any of us thought we’d still be living under these restrictions at the beginning of 2021 – but here we are, a new year and seemingly not even close to reclaiming a sense of normality!
As many other people have, I’ve experienced a variety of emotions since this all started. From the initial feeling of worry and helplessness as I watched the company and industry I love deal with the pandemic fallout, to the feeling of slight guilt as I actually started to enjoy having a little downtime over the summer, to hope as the situation appeared to be improving and more recently, frustration given the latest lockdown restrictions.
Given everything we’ve been through over the past year it would be all too easy to slip into a mind-set that it’s all doom and gloom (I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t done that a little), and with that in mind, back in the autumn I decided to make some simple changes:
Firstly, I decided to do something about my fitness – or lack of it! (realising I was getting out of breath putting my socks on was a particular low point!) I started running a couple of miles, 2 nights a week. I must confess to walking part of the route initially but a couple of months later I’m running the whole route and I’m up to 5 nights a week. I think Sir Mo’s records are safe but it’s definitely helped me focus on trying to lead a healthier lifestyle.
I’ve also made small tweaks to my diet. Having always been a believer that a balanced diet is a healthy one I don’t think I’d ever cut anything out, but I did start to look at timings. We can sometimes eat quite late as a family so a large bowl of pasta, for example, a couple of hours before bed is never going to be a good thing, so I decided to cut out carbs in the evening. As a result, I’ve lost a bit of weight and I’m feeling far less bloated and lethargic.
Together with a reduction in alcohol consumption – back to pre-Covid levels – I’m now feeling healthier than I’ve done in a long time.
A routine is also important. Even on the days I’ve been furloughed I’m still up at 7am, coffee and the news for half hour and then a walk with the dog (the dog has also never been fitter!). Being an avid reader has helped and has served as an important distraction and I’ve also recently signed up for an online learning course which I’m looking forward to starting.
None of this though distracts from the reality that by the time we’re back to whatever normal is going to be, our industry is going to look very different and the more pressing questions surrounding careers and livelihoods have far from gone away. Despite that, I have managed to stay relatively positive throughout, largely because of the following:
The re-opening of multiple contracts after the initial lockdown, the rapid roll out of Covid compliant safety procedures and successful launches of new initiatives like our Core Range and pre-order platform have all shown we’re a company more than capable of adapting and changing. A flexibility that’s going to be essential as we begin to open back up our business.
We even managed to mobilise our newest contract in September and have a couple more new openings scheduled for the next few months. Regular updates and contact from our sales team have also helped me remain positive – it’s reassuring to know that, whilst a lot has changed, things are still ticking over and the sales pipeline remains healthy.
It’s also been really important, and helpful, to maintain contact with my unit managers – and to a large extent it’s been inspiring to hear the different stories of how they’re also keeping themselves occupied and motivated. I think the most important thing for everyone has been the understanding and feeling that we’re all in this together.
With all this in mind I’m more confident than ever that come the time we’re able to get back to doing what we’re all best at we’ll be in a great position to move the business forward and start the re-building process. From a personal point of view it will also be satisfying to look back on this period knowing that I put the spare time to good use.
I’m also increasingly confident I’ll be able to fit into my suit trousers again!