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.