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PIVOT SERIES – How “Common Purpose ” has pivoted since Covid-19

Meet Adirupa Sengupta, Group CEO, Common Purpose Charitable Trust, and Dara Connolly, CEO, Common Purpose Ireland. Common Purpose is a global social enterprise that develops, upskills and connects people from a range of backgrounds to help them become more effective leaders in society.
Covid19 has affected our business in a big way. Our business is built on a unique peer-to-peer experiential learning model. Using the ‘city as the classroom’, we bring leaders out of their typical day-to-day environments, and immerse them in different leadership environments so that they can learn about leadership up close at first-hand. Venues would include a prison, city port, national theatre, sports arena, tech multinational, etc. At the start of the crisis, it felt like Covid19 had attacked the very heart of our delivery model; it felt negative, detrimental even but quickly we saw the opportunity. 

The importance of purpose

Once we realised the extent of the challenge to our business model, we were determined to find ways to overcome it and not let it affect our survival. We are an organisation with an incredibly strong sense of purpose – to develop leaders who can cross boundaries so they can tackle the complex problems in the world. I think when you have a strong purpose, like we do, then that’s what motivates you – that’s what matters – not necessarily the delivery model. It’s certainly helped us get into the mind set to survive, adapt and thrive. As we’ve pivoted, we’ve found new and exciting ways to deliver on our purpose. 

How we pivoted 

We have adapted our business model in two ways. Critically we shifted all of our face-to-face and in-person delivery to a blended, multi-dimensional model. As we are a global organisation running programmes across the world; it was imperative that we develop an impactful offering that could be delivered entirely virtually, but also easily adapted to a blended or face-to-face model based on the prevailing public health advice. 

We also met the challenge of aligning our resource model to the needs of this reframed delivery model. In many ways we were lucky, because we have been delivering experiential leadership development online since 2014. It’s a space we understand well and in which we have a strong track record of meaningful impact. However, until this year, it only represented a small proportion of our activity, globally. So we’ve had to upskill parts of our business very quickly to turn online learning into our primary delivery model (at least for the time being).

How we innovated 

By using a large amount of creativity and inventiveness in our curation and programme design, we have designed a virtual offering that retains – even surpasses – the impact of our traditional face-to-face programmes. Key has been maintaining participant interactivity – taking people out of their day-to-day roles and challenges, whilst ensuring opportunities for personal reflection to ensure the learning is embedded. For example we have used drones, behind-the-scenes videos, live in-house interviews, break out rooms via Zoom, Teams and Web X to replicate the Common Purpose live experience.

Furthermore, with physical barriers dismantled; our programmes have gone fully global. The world is now a lot smaller and the commonality of challenges across borders and sectors is bringing us all onto the same playing field. Whereas previously programmes were solely city-based – e.g. Dublin, London, Hong Kong, Bangalore; our programme participants can now explore leadership across a range of locations via virtual ‘immersions’. Our global reach ensures that our programme participant groups are larger and more diverse than ever before, fostering rich leadership learnings. In Common Purpose we always say ‘the learning is in the room’.  By learning within a group of diverse leaders across the world, participants’ perspectives are widened, horizons broadened and they become more agile and effective leaders. 

Crisis drives culture change

To be honest, some of the changes we brought about as a result of Covid19 are things we were pushing to do for a while, but it was hard to drive all at once. Funny how a crisis can help propel culture change in an organisation! Covid19 helped us embrace digital at a speed and in a way that would have been hard to drive had it been in ‘normal’ circumstances.

Elements like the programmes now being international, incorporating coaching, the use of the Life Long Learning App (like a ‘Fitbit for the brain’), Translate sessions to embed the learning  and our unique online portal to keep our leaders continually talking and sharing experiences will all be maintained after social distancing is over. 

Going forward 

The future for both our business and society is hard to predict. The only certainty is uncertainty. Equally though, this crisis has given people an opportunity to think about how we can improve on how things used to be pre-Covid19. Preparing for this fluid future will require leaders to be resilient, agile and compassionate. While the market has been challenging during this period, we are confident that organisations that recognise the need for these strengths in their leaders will continue to recognise the value that Common Purpose provides. While the mood music in the economy at present can be disheartening, the key lesson we learned during the financial crisis of the last decade is that investment in a leadership culture that can adapt and innovate, pays an even greater dividend during challenging times. 

https://commonpurpose.org/ireland/

Adirupa Sengupta & Dara Connolly

Group CEO & CEO  Ireland

Common Purpose

You can catch Common Purpose on the following social media platforms:

Common Purpose on LinkedIn
Common Purpose on Facebook
Common Purpose on Twitter
Common Purpose on Instagram

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Blog

PIVOT SERIES – How “Spirit Motor Group ” has pivoted during the lockdown

Spirit Motor Group is one of Ireland’s largest automotive retail groups. Operating from nine locations we offer a vast selection of new and used cars and commercial vehicles.  Established in 2004, we are proud to represent some of the world’s most celebrated brands, including Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, Ford, ŠKODA, SEAT and Volkswagen service.  In addition to our franchised dealerships in Sandyford and Baldonnell, we have two specialist used car facilities – Spirit Premium in Sandyford and Spirit Burton in Kilpedder, Co. Wicklow. 

Our state-of-the-art showrooms provide a fitting showcase for our range of vehicles but also put the customer at the heart of every aspect of our business.  We have invested heavily in the development of our locations over the past number of years and we welcome customers six days a week for test drives and service appointments.  The closure of our premises due to Covid-19 forced us to quickly adapt the way we do business.

Offering new services:

Change is hard. Changing your entire business overnight is even harder. Overnight, all staff except those covering essential breakdown cover began working from home. This was a fundamental shift in how we operate as many of our staff have never worked from home before. Thankfully, our IT department had invested in Microsoft Teams pre-lockdown and this became a vital tool for us all to keep in contact and host meetings. Staff were granted full remote access to all files successfully continuing their work from home with little disruption and soon got used to working virtually together.  Managers worked with their teams to ensure staff were comfortable and had everything possible to make their jobs easier.

However, getting staff familiar and comfortable working at home was only one of our challenges. While Spirit Motor Group’s online presence has evolved in recent years, most of our transactions still take place within our showrooms and Covid-19 restrictions made this impossible.   Thankfully we were able to respond to this in a timely manner since we had invested in a new e-commerce website platform in late 2019 and this was already up and running.  Our new website enables us to offer remote services to customers, including reserving a vehicle with an online deposit, as well as applying for finance.  Customers can also chat with our Sales teams in real time through a chat function on the site. This “Digital Showroom” became our biggest asset during lockdown as we could still offer customers the ability to secure a vehicle when needed. Our website is jam-packed with information to make the buying process easier, with an engaging and enhanced user journey.     Indeed, we saw a marked increase in the number of general enquiries, online deposits and finance applications coming through the site during the lockdown period and we are encouraged by the level of engagement we’re still seeing now that restrictions are easing.

Keeping in contact:

Keeping in contact with our customers was also a priority for us. We wanted to ensure our customers understood that although our showrooms had to close, we were still very much open for business and on-call should they have any questions or concerns about their vehicle. Our communications plan consisted of updating customers on our Digital Showroom to ensure they knew what facilities were available to them. We also offered customers some entertainment with lifestyle focused newsletters with colouring templates and other offers for the family to enjoy during lockdown. We contacted customers using a range of tools including email, SMS, direct mail and over the telephone depending on the customers’ preferences. Our sales staff were also facilitating daily calls or virtual meetings should a customer need more information. Maintaining and nurturing our relationships with our customers is very important to us whether we are physically open or not.

Hybrid mentality:

Our businesses reopened in line with the government’s health and safety guidelines on 18th May. We decided a video would be the most impactful way to communicate our reopening to our customers. Video has enabled us to show exactly how our new sales and service processes work so our customers can always be assured their health and safety is our priority and that our high levels of customer service have not been impacted. The video highlights screens at all our reception desks within showrooms, hand-washing stations, disinfectant gels, and one-way pathways for customers to follow reducing foot traffic in showrooms. These measures were tested by staff multiple times before reopening and are performing very well.

We will continue to invest in our Digital Showroom and to offer customers a hybrid sales process; those who would rather not visit a showroom do not need to. We are offering at-home test-drives, bespoke videos of vehicles, online Q&As and a pickup / drop off for service customers who need it most. We are confident that any Spirit customer who needs help will receive it in the most appropriate way for their circumstance.

We are confident about the future and are proud of the measures we have taken during lockdown to keep our business going strong. We are delighted to welcome all our customers back to our showrooms, whether physically or digitally knowing that in both cases we will continue to offer an outstanding level of attention and service.

https://www.spiritmotorgroup.ie/

Sinéad Farrell

Senior Marketing Executive

You can catch Sinead and Spirit Motor Group on the following social media platforms:

Sinéad Farrell on LinkedIn

Spirit Motor Group on LinkedIn

Spirit Motor Group on Twitter

Spirit Motor Group on Facebook

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Events

PRMIA event – 15th July, Webinar – The Brexit Clock is still ticking

As the Co-Regional Director of PRMIA Ireland Alan Bluett would like to invite you to the next PRMIA Ireland talk, and the first webinar of the year, on Wednesday 15th July at 1pm-2pm (EDT) / 6pm-7pm (IST). 

“The Brexit Clock is still ticking”

A two panellist discussion on the geopolitical developments surrounding Brexit, and how it will work in a COVID-19 future.

The webinar will be moderated by PRMIA EMEA Regional Directors Committee Co-Chair, Dr Monika Smatralova.

Click to register for the “The Brexit Clock is still ticking” webinar

Featured Panellists include:

Jim Power is Chief Economist for Aviva Ireland. He was previously Treasury Economist at AIB  (1987-1991), Chief Economist at Bank of Ireland Group  (1992-2000) and Chief Economist Friends First Group (2000 to 2018).

He is owner manager of Jim Power Economics Limited, an economic and financial consultancy. The company carries out consultancy projects, public speaking, and training for a variety of public and private sector entities. He is Chairman of Love Irish Food. He is a member of the Institute of Directors in Ireland.

He is a graduate of UCD and holds a BA and a Master of Economic Science Degree. He lectures part-time on the MSc Management and the MBA at Smurfit School of Business, UCD.

Richard Pike has extensive experience of working with financial institutions throughout the world, assisting companies in managing enterprise risk more efficiently while addressing local regulatory guidelines and standards. Richard is currently Chairman of Citadel Securities (Ireland) Ltd and an Independent Non-Executive Director at, FBD Insurance plc, The National Cyber Security Society, JPMorgan fund administration, JPMorgan hedge fund administration and Citadel Securities Europe. He is also the founder and CEO of Governor Software.

Prior to these roles, Richard has worked in various senior banking, insurance, credit and market risk roles at Permanenttsb bank, Wolters Kluwer Financial Services, ABN AMRO, Bain, COMIT Gruppe and Quay Financial Software.  He has analysed, designed and managed the development of core treasury and enterprise risk management systems for large financial institutions, including UBS, Citibank, Schroders and Unicredito.

In 2009, Richard was recognised as a “Top 50” Face of Operational Risk by Op Risk & Compliance magazine and was a contributing author to two books on risk management.  He was also a founding board member of the Governance, Risk and Compliance Technology Centre which focuses on research in the area of financial services governance, risk and compliance. He teaches on risk management at the Institute of Banking and at the UCD Smurfit Business School. Richard has also received the designation of ‘Certified Bank Director’ from the Institute of Banking.

Click to register for the “The Brexit Clock is still ticking” webinar

*** This event is FREE for members and non-members, although registration is required.  Click “Register Myself” below to reserve your spot. ***

AGENDA:

6:00 PM Panel discussion opens

6:45 PM Panel discussion finishes

6:45 PM – 7:00 PM Q & A Session with the audience

Click to register for the “The Brexit Clock is still ticking” webinar

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Blog

PIVOT SERIES – How The Panel has PIVOTED during Covid-19

With Phase 3 now firmly in place we here at The Panel are slowly but surely returning to normal operations.

Back in February when we first started to hear about COVID-19, and subsequently in March when the lockdown took effect, we had to adapt very quickly, this was most certainly a new situation for us.

Following in the footsteps of our neighbours LinkedIn and Google, we had decided to test having our entire workforce work from home even before the lockdown was official. Thankfully we had completed the transfer of our business fully to the Cloud in January, without this, things might have been different!

How have you pivoted your business?

Having invested significantly in cloud-based recruitment technologies such as Bullhorn, CloudCall, Daxtra and Cube19 in the last 18 months, our entire team was able to work from home overnight. Our recruitment technology gives us a big advantage over our competitors and means that our service to candidates and clients alike is uninterrupted and timelier.

After the official lockdown, we ceased all operations out of our office in Ballsbridge and put our remote WFH (Working From Home) strategy into place. We were very lucky to have a team so willing and adaptable to change. 

We decided to take this opportunity and embrace the flexibility it gave our colleagues to carry out the work they were required to do remotely. As businesses across the world found themselves in a position where recruitment was halted almost completely, we used the time to evaluate our approach in how to maintain contact with our existing candidates and clients, and to develop relationships with new ones.

We maintained our fully customer focussed approach, staying in contact and listening to our candidates and client’s requirements and issues. Our contacts, though tentative in engaging with job searches or recruitment processes, told us that our approach was appreciated and different. We found that “it’s good to talk” is as relevant now as ever!

As a result of the pandemic lockdown, we are now all ace at using Zoom and Microsoft Teams. We have written useful blogs for clients and candidates alike on video interviewing, which have been universally well received.

Our sister business, The Agile Executive, has come into its own with its part-time executive offering and by doing mentorship work for Enterprise Ireland, the LEOs and the Small Firms Association. We are seeing continued growth in this flexible business model during COVID.

What if any of the COVID-19 changes do you see being made into long-term changes, and how do you believe it will help your business post the crisis?

Staying up to date with guidelines from the HSE, we will continue to adhere to social distancing and health advice. The exact roll-out for re-introduction of all the team back to the office will be gradual. All team members and visitors will observe certain protocols before entering our premises, we are limiting numbers in the office and the cleaning of all office spaces has increased in frequency.

Keeping our workforce remote, as much as possible, is still key. We may transition some of the team to a hybrid office/WFM model, especially those with long commutes.

What is your view on the market post COVID-19?

The recruitment industry is adapting to the COVID-19 world, activity is down, and confidence is dented. However, companies are still going to need new staff members, and jobseekers will still be looking for new opportunities. This will not change, however the way in which the recruitment processes are handled will.

Throughout the lockdown many employers were forced to complete their hiring process and on-boarding process remotely, this will more than likely continue, however I do believe there will be a slow move to more face-to-face interaction over the coming weeks. All whilst adhering to social distancing of course.

We are encouraged by some of the green shoots. It is too early to call how the market will react post-COVID-19, however if the government, Revenue and the banks continue to support businesses as they are now, this will accelerate a recovery in my opinion.

I am personally encouraged by the number of virtual events I have been asked to speak at during the lockdown. I have been very active in the last few years within the funds industry and 100 Women in Finance and while I miss the buzz of a room full of people, I have adapted to the new forms of communication!

We, here at The Panel will continue to offer our customers the best service possible, and we hope to see you all in person soon again, let’s stay positive, let’s stay safe.

www.thepanel.com

Anne Keys

Joint Managing Partner

You can find us on the following social media platforms:

The Panel on LinkedIn

The Panel on Twitter

The Panel on Facebook

The Panel on Instagram

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Blog

PIVOT SERIES – How “The Source Bulk Foods ” has pivoted during the lockdown

The Source Bulk Foods is a ‘zero waste’ grocer in Rathmines that stocks over 500 products, including organic wholefoods, cereals, herbs and spices, cooking liquids and oils, raw Irish honey, healthy snacks, as well as and sustainable personal and household products. Our store is a plastic free environment where our customers have the option of refilling their own containers or using the paper bags or glass jars we have onsite.

Zero waste shopping has revolutionised the way a lot of people buy their groceries today, so we were delighted to set up the first Irish franchise of this Australian brand in December 2019. However, three months later our new store was faced with unprecedented business decisions as the country entered lockdown due to Covid-19!

Essential Service & Essential Changes

As food retail was considered an essential service during lockdown we were allowed to remain open. However, as a team we took the decision to close in the first 10 days to take stock of the new situation and to evaluate how we could best keep our customers and staff safe.  We introduced measures to ensure that our hygiene measures to combat Covid 19 were in line with government guidelines and we installed screens at our counter to allow customers and staff to interact with each other in a safe environment.  We also reduced the number of customers allowed in the store at any one time to 4.

When we re-opened we got wonderful feedback from our customers who visited us. Our regulars were genuinely delighted they could continue their zero-waste shopping experience during the lockdown. Our customers are very passionate about sustainability, the environment and avoiding the use of unnecessary plastic and packaging, so it was important to them that had the option to shop with us.

Pivoting Further

With so many of our customers self-isolating or wary of entering retail outlets we realised that we needed to offer an online option, and so our click & collect and delivery service was quickly developed.  With the help of our UK team we utilised our current POS and linked it to our website and within a few days we had a workable online solution.  This was also connected to our stock system so customer could only order with what we had in stock. 

We have seen demand for certain products change.  All our baking products have dramatically increased in sales.  We have customers ordering 10 kilos of strong white flour who have never shopped with us before. Our Irish flour range which includes rye, spelt and wholemeal flour have quadrupled in demand and our sales of yeast, and other baking ingredients, such as chocolate drops and cacao butter, have been incredible.

The online ordering system that we have introduced is here to stay, so we have basically added two new routes to market in click & collect and delivery.  We’re aware that we will need to upgrade the system in the coming months. Our customers have been extremely forgiving during the Covid 19 crisis as our online service, although phenomenally successful and user friendly, is by no means perfect!

Looking Ahead

We are optimistic about the future, but like many other businesses at the moment, we are cautious. We still expect to grow in 2020 and beyond, and we’re already looking at new sites in Dublin. 

If we had some advice for our community it would be buy local, eat local and this year explore the beautiful country in which we live rather than going abroad on holiday.  This is the best way to ensure that we employ as many people as possible, and support both the local economy and the environment. 

https://www.thesourcebulkfoods.ie/

Ken Kinsella

Store Owner

You can catch Ken and The Source Bulk Foods on the following social media platforms:

The Source Bulk Foods on Instagram

The Source Bulk Foods Ireland on Facebook

Ken on Instagram

Ken on LinkedIn

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Blog

PIVOT SERIES – How “Lafferty Architects” has pivoted during the lockdown

Lafferty – Business Continuity & Agility During Lock Down

With a team of 70 Architects and Project Managers, our approach is largely based on teamwork and creative collaboration. Prior to the lock down experience I would have believed this could only be effectively achieved face to face.

However, since the 13th March our full team have been successfully working from home. Originally planned as a trial WFH day to test our IT resilience, overnight, just like everyone else it became our new norm. We were fortunate that technology in our industry has advanced to a stage where all project data sharing is on a BIM digital platform and through continual investment in IT innovation (and our wonderful IT Manager Jen), our team didn’t skip a beat in servicing our client’s needs. I don’t like to think of how challenging this situation would have been had we faced it 10 years ago.

We have put a lot of focus on building a strong company culture at Lafferty over the past few years through investing in the talent of our people, which essentially is the core value of our business. During lock down, the creativity, motivation and commitment of our team has paid us back in spades, demonstrating leadership and continuity of a high-quality service. No deadlines have been missed.

Response to Crisis

Our initial response was to contact all our Clients to reassure them of continuity of service, listen to their specific challenges in this rapidly altered environment and find out where we could be of support. Having worked through the last recession and understanding the importance of cash flow at a time of crisis, it was also essential to include an open commercial discussion. A good client and service provider relationship is a supportive one, as both parties want each other to emerge post-crisis in a strong position.

Given the economic uncertainty and temporary closure of construction sites, it was inevitable that some projects were revaluated or paused. Some sector classes will be very challenged post-lock down, although the correction in the market will also bring new opportunities.

While our focus is very much on winning new business and servicing current projects, delays to projects have created an opportunity to re-evaluate and reassign resources.  We are delighted to be able to use this in a very positive way by offering our services to support to a very worthy cause.

We were approached in April to step in as Architects to design 30 new homes for the Empower the Family Charity on a vacant site in Ballymun. This is a venture that our Project Managers were already involved in and the previous Architects had to suddenly withdraw due to uncertainty around Covid. The Charity, founded by the inspirational Deborah Somorin, supports disadvantaged single parents to complete their university education and essentially recast their life path. We assigned two of our experienced residential Architects, Daire and Jelena on the project which will be progressing to a Planning Application in mid-summer.

With the inevitability that WFH will form part of many company’s employment strategy going forward, we recently partnered with a Fabrication Company to design a Garden Office Pod that will incorporate a strong design and sustainability ethos. We believe that successful long-term WFH will require a demarcation between home and office space.

As a Team Building exercise, we decided to run this as a concept design competition within the Practice.  Following a great response with 13 really creative entries, which we had externally judged, an elegant garden pod design by Ola, one of our talented Architects from our Polish office came out on top. Prototypes of the Pod are currently being fabricated and we are really excited to see the end result.

The Future

While there are not many positives to be taken from this tragic period, we do intend to ingrain some of the good experiences we have encountered over this time into Lafferty. I would have been previously sceptical of WFH as a workable business model due to the lack of collaboration and oversight. My perception of this has completely altered and there is without doubt a place for a hybrid working model that will allow more productive focus time in a home environment and the subsequent work/life balance advantages it will bring. It will not work for all, but it will add flexibility to how we resource projects.

It has also reinforced the essential truth of having great people around you and a strong team culture with a clear common purpose.

The value of our neighbourhoods has never been so appreciated as during this time of restricted movement. It would be great to think that one positive would be to put greater emphasis on building strong sustainable local communities with amenities that support all age groups. We are all now very aware of what is within our immediate vacinity.

On a national level, it is essential that the State significantly invests in infrastructure, healthcare and housing, the pressing issues pre-Covid still remain.

I believe that Ireland is in a strong position to be one of the economies that recovers quickly. We have developed a more varied and layered economy since the last recession and the country’s collective response to the Pandemic will show us in a positive international light. I am optimistic that after a challenging period the future will be bright – but I wouldn’t be getting the shades out yet.

www.lafferty.ie

Jim Gallagher

Managing Director

You can catch Lafferty Architects on the following social media platforms:

Lafferty Architects on LinkedIn

Lafferty Architects on Instagram

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Blog

PIVOT SERIES – How the Artizan Food Co. has pivoted during the lockdown

How has COVID-19 affected you and your business in a positive way? 

Many of our clients were quick to implement “work from home” initiatives as Covid-19 arrived in Ireland.  Consequently, we were forced to react quickly.  We spoke to and worked with each of our clients to see how we could move forward and thankfully all of them have been extremely supportive.  The fact that we own our Central Production Facility allowed us to deliver the necessary changes as we moved to individual meals and snacks, delivered into our client sites, until all sites finally closed.

The speed of the shut-down and the effect it had on many people in our society turned our focus to the charities who might need assistance.  We already had an established in-house Charity Committee, with Crumlin Children’s hospital being our chosen charity partner.  Therefore, it was natural to start by supporting the Ronald McDonald House as they were forced to close their kitchen.  We began making meals for them and several other charities.  The more phone calls we made the more we realised that most charities had been forced to close their own in-house kitchens as Covid-19 spread.

Initially we funded this ourselves.  On explaining to clients, the scale of the problem that was emerging they agreed to contribute, donating all the snacks that were left in their offices plus additional funds.  Amazingly the aircraft leasing company Avolon allocated their full catering budget to our charity programme.  When the lockdown was announced, we declared ourselves an “Essential Service” and have stayed open to this day.

I am delighted to say, we have donated over 30,000 meals to charities so far.  These have included charities such as inner city homeless, the Ronald Mc Donald House, St Michael’s House, Barnardo’s, Holles’ Street Hospital, St James’ Hospital and many small local charities feeding the elderly that were now in their homes cocooning.  This charity initiative would not have been possible without the help of both our clients and our amazing team who deserve all the credit for this.  This includes the admin staff who manned the phones and liaised with the charities, the chefs, the kitchen staff and the delivery drivers.  Everybody came to work each day with a smile.

How have you pivoted your business? 

We have also been working hard over the last few weeks to develop our current offering as we “Reverse out of Covid”.  We see companies looking for alternative catering solutions for their staff who will return to work.

With this in mind we have developed a new range of chilled meals which include individually packed breakfast, lunch, and dinner solutions, in compostable packaging, all produced in our 25,000 sq ft Central Production Facility.  This offering will be delivered by our team of drivers, who have been trained in HSE protocols. This service/offering is not just for clients whose on-site restaurant has closed, but for clients who do not ordinarily provide food to employees, but do not want their employees queuing at the local shop or deli for their lunch.

Our Pantry Service/Vending business continues to list nearly 1,000 pre-packed items, including our in-house produced energy balls, juices, fruit pots etc – an ideal solution!

We also launched our new sister company, www.eatto.ie. This business, which had been in development for some time, produces handmade meals using the best Irish ingredients. These meals are blast-frozen and delivered nationwide, directly to the consumer. Due to the high demand for this new initiative, we are working to extend the range of products available in the Eatto.ie catalogue for launch in July.

We produce everything in-house from the best Irish ingredients, guaranteeing an exceptionally high-quality product.  We are proud members of Bord Bia’s Origin Green initiative and members of the Love Irish Food Association.

What if any of the COVID-19 changes do you see being made into long-term changes, and how do you believe it will help your business post the crisis? 

Covid has changed everything about hospitality particularly the world of catering. This includes everything about food presentation in the short to medium term.  Clients are looking to “take back” space from catering companies, space that is now required for larger working and breakout areas because of social distancing.  This is forcing operators into producing more and more food offsite.  Industry talk is about Cloud Kitchens and Central Production Kitchens.  We are fortunate to have our own Central Production Facility for over 12 years leaving us well positioned for this shift in how the catering world is serviced.

What is your view on the market post COVID-19? 

There is no doubt, working from home will reduce customers in our client’s restaurants.  While I do believe that this will continue because of Covid, l see companies slowly re-opening over the next few months and staff returning to offices on a gradual basis.  While working from home has its advantages it is not for everyone or a perfect solution, particularly on a full-time basis.  Consequently, we see our clients retuning to near pre-Covid levels in the medium term.  We are fortunate to have a great team and facility in place that allows us to remain flexible and innovative for our clients while delivering a best-in-class solution.

www.artizancatering.ie

www.eatto.ie 

Barry McAuliffee

Managing Director

You can catch Barry, Artizan Food Co. and Eatto on the following social media platforms:

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Blog

PIVOT SERIES – How “The Way” have pivoted post Covid-19

Meet Grainne and Dominic founders of The Way a health and wellness business.

If one of the definitions of Pivot is to change course this perfectly sums up the last few months for all of us, not just small business owners like ourselves.

As a Health and Wellness Business our days were usually occupied with helping clients in the gym, 1-1 coaching sessions on health topics like nutrition, stress management or visiting companies to teach, talk and work with their employees on all aspects of looking after health and wellbeing.

Since early January we had been watching with concern the news of Covid-19 from China but it wasn’t until 12th Mach after listening to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s address that we realised that we had an immediate need to figure out how could we still do what we normally do or we would have no business to speak of at all.

Companies were all scrambling to answer the same questions and we needed to get their attention and the attention of our day to day customer to show them that we can still deliver our services despite the restrictions and distance between us.

Embracing Change

Our first adjustment was to quickly make investments in change – we knew we had to be able to give people workouts they could do daily with minimal equipment from home so we ran out to buy better audio and video tech before everyone else realised what was going on. Being a small company gives us the ability to make decisions quickly and this paid off as we were up and running within two days of the restrictions.

Another key investment we made was to make use of the technology that was always available to us e.g. Zoom and Google hangouts, this made delivering everything from cookery demos to mobility focused classes possible and provided us with a strong platform to keep in touch with our clients. We had to adapt quickly and establish a presence to reassure our them that we were still here for them or we might have become invisible due to the glut of ‘free’ offers that were being put out there by others.

Zooming in

The past 2-3 months have involved adjusting workspace in the house, grabbing equipment from the gym to deliver our daily workouts, lots of home DIY and more than it’s fair share of stress due to the uncertainty and unpredictability of work and trying to adjust to home schooling an 11yr old. We knew these were the same experiences that all our clients were facing and we and tried to reflect that in what we were offering through live Zoom sessions on nutrition, sleep, managing stress and how to stay resilient. We also remained active on our social media and posted daily to let people know tough times require connection, support and positive habits and we are here to help.

Our USP is our holistic health offering grounded in years of experience training clients face to face and working in a corporate environment – this has put us in a position where distance may be a hurdle but that has been made somewhat easier to jump due to the confidence we have in our services and the speed at which we pivoted.

Pivoting for the future

We have always had a people first approach to business and in the current climate we maintained close contact with our clients but not through aimless emails and texts but through good old-fashioned phone calls so we could really get a sense of what they needed and how we could help.

The Future is one we are all adjusting to, but we see Connection and Safety as the vital components in the future of our work.

We see a future where there are more outdoor spaces for people to come together to exercise free from the worries of going to a packed gym. Partnership and support from local councils and businesses will needed but imagine if our parks or business green spaces could be used for more than walkers and dogs.

“Excellence is the next five minutes”

We know that remote working will be reconfigured so that people are not stuck at home working but have access to shared spaces. We imagine a future where these shared spaces could also have space for health and wellbeing – for small group, minimal equipment workouts, talks, cookery demonstrations, led meditations etc and technology can deliver services like ours to those spaces.

As Tom Peter’s would say “Excellence is the next five minutes”, right now we focus on delivering excellence in that next phone call and in that next live Zoom session. We are writing our plans in pencil, not pen, adjusting in the now in the hope of creating a better future for us AND our clients.

www.thisistheway.ie

We are the go-to team for fitness and wellbeing.

Our way is simple – Move Well, Train Well, and Eat Well to be well!

Grainne & Dominic

You can catch Grainne and Dominic on the following social media platforms:

Grainne on Instagram

Dominic on Instagram

Grainne on Twitter

Dominic on Twitter

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Blog

COVID-19 and the Changed Face of Business & Marketing

The business world has been changed utterly by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the aftermath of our current lockdown, how can marketing step up to re-boot future business growth?  

A new normal

Every business has experienced the dramatic shift to remote working. With social distancing going to be a long-term reality, remote working will become a permanent part of our working way. This has the potential to be a good and bad thing for businesses – on the negative side businesses will be challenged to manage teams remotely and to building strong team culture when not in physical proximity. On the positive side it will reduce the need for expensive office space, it can foster a culture of output orientated performance and can enable a more empowered work force, reducing commute times and offering improved work life balance which is something that has been craved for a long time.

The normal offline way of business is changed. With trade events and face to face meetings now impossible, businesses have embraced technology – reflected in the growth in video conferencing provider Zoom as an example. There are now many platform alternatives for businesses to create and manage meetings, webinars and events –  Slack, Team, Hangouts etc. Online conferencing and meetings are now firmly established and are here to stay. Now is the time for businesses to plan new ways of ensuring they are interacting with their target audiences.  

Digital Activation

From a marketing perspective what has the short-term impact been and what are the longer-term implications for businesses and consumers? Since March 2020 e-commerce activity globally is up 108%, with 42% of consumers say their shopping habits will be changed forever. Businesses are going to become increasingly more reliant on their digital marketing for positioning and promotion. Those businesses that embrace this reality will be the ones that survive and thrive best. Right now is the time for businesses to get active. They should consider the following:

  • Update their website – it is essential to make it the hub of their digital communications
  • Examining how to win in SEO – ensure all content is accurately optimised for the new world your targets live in
  • Consider when to use paid search & remarketing – paid search and conversion rates are down. This presents an opportunity in terms of the auction rates available to promote to your audience
  • Review how social media channels can engage with audiences – SM activity has increased dramatically as people have looked to stay engaged. Consider social media advertising
  • Consider outbound email it is still a very powerful medium in the B2B space 
  • Build out a detailed and layered content marketing strategy – embrace creating raw user generated content and don’t get fixated on having the very highest production standards – especially if marketing budgets are being pinched
  • Look to develop as much earned media as you can – build out online networks and hunt for endorsements from industry influencers
  • Look to see where your business can step up and help your community – Irish Distillers pivoted very quickly into producing alcohol for hand sanitisers, promoting a really positive message for their brand 

 

Agility and adaptability will be the key to success. The starting point is to re-examine where your targets are to be found online? The manner businesses and brands behaved before COVID and after will not be the same. What needs have changed with your target audiences? How can you ensure that you understand and can solve their current pain points? How should you now target them for mutual benefit and success? Many of the answers to these questions will have shifted in the last few months – your targets world, like yours has spun. If your business promoted itself predominantly off-line, now is the time to examine how you can stay relevant in a digital environment. But be strategic with how you move into this space. Don’t view it as a short-term fix but rather a long-term strategic shift, based on the market environment and need.  

Start now

Start focusing now on your brand and your marketing. You must be as ready as possible when the economy opens up – there is no time to be wasted, you need to create opportunities to grow leads once again. It is a difficult and scary time, but it is not a time for neutrality and sitting back. As always fortune will favour the brave and as Warren Buffet said, 
 
“Be fearful when others are being greedy and greedy when others are being fearful.”

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Blog

Zoom In – The Ultimate Video Interviewer Guide

In a recent article by our colleague Adam Ryan, he gave some valuable advice to candidates on the process of participating in video interviews with prospective employers.

This article is aimed at you, the employer, and what steps you can take to successfully interview online.

Have the right software

We are finding that majority of our clients are happy to conduct most of their interviews online during the current Covid-19 crisis. Some might even be happy to go through the entire recruitment process this way, whereas others use it merely for first level interviews and are now waiting for restrictions to be lifted so that they can hold final interviews face-to-face (whilst adhering to safe social distancing guidelines).

No matter which method is preferred for the initial online video conferencing (VC) these are five of the most commonly used software platforms.

  • Skype
  • Microsoft Teams
  • GoToMeeting
  • Zoom
  • Google Hangouts

They are all easy to use, most are free (up to a certain level) and do not require either parties to download any software to use.

Here are some key pointers to take note of ahead of your next candidate VC interview:

1. The “Dry-run”. Some of our clients have made it common practise to conduct a dry-run VC meeting ahead of the interview. This would involve a team member giving the interviewee a call a couple of days prior to interview to ensure that everything is working properly.

Things to check:

  • The sound is working
  • The image resolution is at its’ best
  • The Wi-Fi/broadband connection works
  • That lighting is good
  • That external sounds are at a minimum
  • No distractions in the interview space

This will eliminate wasting time doing a technical set-up during the actual interview, ensuring that everything is working ahead of time.

2. Suitable location. This is not just something for the interviewee to bear in mind, this goes for the interviewer also.

Location. If you are not conducting the VC interview from the office or office boardroom, consider where in the house you will be located during the VC call.  It is probably not the best look for your business to do the call from your bedroom for example…

Lighting. Good lightning is key. Ensure good lightning from the front, not behind you. Natural light or soft lightning is preferable.

If you are for example in front of a window, the interviewee will see you in silhouette. Pay attention to how well-lit your space is.

Backdrop. Keep it simple and avoid cluttered surroundings. If this means you must re-arrange the backdrop slightly that is ok. Alternatively, use the “blurring” feature on Zoom.

Angle. Best practice, if you don’t have a PC, but use a laptop, is to elevate it so that the camera is at eye level or perhaps a little higher up. It prevents shadows and unflattering angles. If you do not have a proper stand, improvise and use what’s around you to elevate the laptop. Books are very effective!

3. Dress code. It is expected of most interviewees that business wear is to be worn at an interview. A VC interview is no different for both parties. Dress professionally and make sure you advise your interviewee on the dress code you expect.

From a practical point of view, ensure that your outfit matches the background in the room. So for example, if you are wearing all blue and your background is all blue, you may “melt” into the background. Therefore, you will be harder to see.

VC interviews, like face-to-face interviews, are a window into your organisation for the interviewee, so it is important to project yourself and your company in the best possible light.

Avoid the “Will Reeve – No Pants – look” on Good Morning America

4. Interruptions. Always prepare for the unexpected.

  • Turn off your mobile phone or put it on silent
  • Turn off the sound on apps (updates, email and social media messages etc.) which may pop up during interview
  • If you have online communications channels such as Microsoft Teams on your machine, close them down or chose the “do not disturb” option, so that you won’t be interupted
  • Lock or close the door to the room you are in and communicate with your family members that you are on a call and that you are not to be interupted
  • Make sure that any house pets that may be happy to lend their vocals, are out of the house at the time

5. Sharing Wi-Fi

Where you are sharing Wi-Fi and where your signal may be compromised, please kindly ask your fellow Wi-Fi users to refrain from going online.

6. Body Language. Like any interview situation be aware of non-verbal communications and what they can say about you.

  • Look into the web camera, but don’t stare as it could be deemed intimidating.
  • Speak clearly and calmly and allow the interviewee time to speak in between. VC meetings do not generally allow the same freedom in conversation flow as a face-to-face meeting, so be willing to take breaks and pause to ensure that the interviewee has understood what has been said.
  • If possible, avoid excessive hand movements and gestures.

7. The Mute Button. There is lots to be said for avoiding unnecessary sounds during a VC meeting.

If there are two or more interviewers on the call, it is recommended that those not asking questions mute their microphones, until you are being asked to join in the conversation. It will allow for better communication flow and limit sound interference. The lead interviewer can prompt the other interviewer when to join the call and unmute their microphones.

8. Practicalities.

Structure. Plan the structure of your interview in advance.

If the interview requires more than one interviewer, make sure that you all know what specific topics you are individually covering, the running order and assign one interviewer as the lead person.

The lead interviewer’s role is to welcome the candidate, introduce themselves and the other interviewer(s) and to manage the running order. They will also close the interview and ask the interviewee if they have any questions, thank them for their time etc.

Sharing. If for any reason you need to share your screen with the interviewee, ensure that you only have the relevant document open and all other windows or folders closed.

Back-up plan. In case you run into any difficulties or the interviewee does, ensure that you have a back-up number you can quickly reach them on.

Test sound on the day. Check with the candidate that they can hear you properly as soon as your meeting starts.

Charge. Easily forgotten but, ensure that the device you are conducting the meeting from is fully charged or plugged in before the meeting commences.

Water. To prevent a dry mouth, ensure that you have water beside you and that you advise the interviewee does the same.

Expectations. It is important to manage the interviewees expectations from the beginning of the call. Ensure that they know what to expect and that they are ok with it. Also remember, this is all very new to the candidate, so it’s important you allow for that.

Usernames. Ensure that the username you used for your family quiz night or your Zoom calls with friends, doesn’t remain on the interface. If you have other family members using the same computer, please ensure that any inappropriate users names are also switched off.

Logging off. Get to know the platform you are using, in particular we recommend you know where the off button is so that you can exit the call in a prompt and polite manner.

Learning as we go…

The Corona Virus has thrown standard interviewing practices out the door. Whether VC interviews are something you and your company have conducted for a long time or if this is all new, do not stress! We are all learning as we go…

If you or any of your colleagues would like some more guidance, feel free to get in touch.