38 / 55

Alexia McClure

COO, Jersey Business

Like many people looking back over the months of 2020, it’s hard to describe what we’ve been through. My experience of COVID-19 has been exhausting and complex.

Monday 16 March was when it all started for me and the team at Jersey Business because, for the following eight weeks, our entire focus shifted from supporting business growth to providing a business crisis helpline.

I found the speed of the change extraordinary. So was the way our team set to the new task. Two of us remained in the office and all I remember is the relentless sound of the phone ringing. I’m used to the noise of an open plan office, but I found the non-stop calls and distressing conversations all-consuming and a constant reminder of how serious and far reaching the impact of COVID-19 was going to be.

It can be too easy to focus on the difficulties of a situation, but I prefer to look for the positives. I can honestly say it’s been the support and camaraderie of my colleagues that has made it possible for me to keep up the pace and manage the pressure.

Being a leader comes with responsibility and I’m entirely comfortable with that, but I’ve felt especially responsible over these last few months. Responsible for having the knowledge we need to support the people contacting us. For helping to shape the business support packages and safe exit framework so that businesses have the best chance of surviving a situation not of their making and beyond their control. And most importantly, for the wellbeing of our team.

COVID-19 compressed five years of change into three months. My hope is that the benefits of this will continue. Wildlife and the environment have flourished as travel has reduced. Home working has shown that people don’t need to do a 9 to 5 in the office to be productive. Flexible working in all its guises has so many benefits for so many people that I hope it is COVID-19’s workplace legacy.

Over the past seven months I’ve spent a lot of time in collaboration with officials from across the Government of Jersey. I’ve experienced the difficulty of balancing the need to protect us from COVID-19 with keeping the economy moving and the borders open and I don’t see that getting easier for months and even years ahead.

As I write this in early October it’s clear that the pandemic is far from over, but in reflecting on the journey so far, I believe we are all better equipped to support each other to deal with whatever comes next. I am honoured to be part of this 2020 project.