I have just delivered my first live all-staff briefing via Skype – which was not even remotely on my radar a few weeks ago.
It is one of the many things that we’re now doing differently because of the coronavirus crisis and it was a great way for teams to connect directly, even though they were at home.
Everything’s changed and although we are in a heartbreaking situation which is desperate beyond measure, we’ve proved that local authorities can achieve far more than we ever thought possible in terms of minimising travel, using technology to work flexibly and avoiding face-to-face meetings.
We’ve been forced to change – but by doing so we have also created, almost overnight, a network of volunteers to support the vulnerable in our communities, capable of providing them with food and supplies and alleviating their feelings of isolation.
We have set up new processes at lightning speed to get much-needed support to our local businesses, we have established completely new ways of working and communicating with each other which have been there all along but we had not made that step change until now.
I was asked what positives will come from this and realised that local authorities have by necessity become far more introspective than ever before as they’ve been forced to consider their own survival. This isn’t what we’re about. We need to get back to basics – and our communities. We have an opportunity to re-boot and take stock of what we’re really trying to do and dedicate more resources to that.
I was struck by a comment from entrepreneur Dave Hollis on Radio 4 who said: ‘In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.’
Gill Kneller is chief executive of East Hampshire DC and Havant BC