We are 9 months on since we got thrown into our first UK national lock down and started looking at one another wondering how on earth we could get through it. It was a huge shock, although the amazing weather made it bearable, but we have learnt so much since then that we are much better prepared for entering this week's third one.

At Collingwood, we have developed and become a much better company since last March. Our people orientated culture has always been pretty good but, being forced to work 100% remotely for the first time, we have had to adjust in order to remain connected and operate as an effective team.

Going into our third lock down, here are 7 things that we know will keep us strong, ensure our clients remain delighted and keep our team in good mental health.

1. Collaborative learning

We stole an idea from one of our clients to invest in our team and ended up having an hour per day together. Our learning included online courses, listening to books together and it absolutely transformed our business for the better whilst also upskilling us all. This is now an integral part of our week at Collingwood and will continue to be.

2. Communication

We recognised that working from home can be brilliant for some and a miserable lonely existence for others. We are a social bunch and so decided to implement both diarised and ad hoc "brew ups". With no work talk allowed, these have really built an open and supportive culture with everyone aware of each others worries and struggles and the creation of a genuinely caring team who look out for one another. We also now have a team quiz every fortnight which is lots of fun but has also created quite a bit of competition! 

3. Mindfulness

We have had a mindfulness coach for over 2 years now but increased our sessions to fortnightly when the first lock down came. Our coach commented this morning at how far we have come in 2 years, how open our communication is and that he doesn't work with any other companies who are nearly close to the team and mental health orientated culture that we have developed. These sessions have also given us all techniques to get through difficult times or challenges and we all know when our chimp has come out to play and how to get it back in its box!

4. Laughter

We recognise the benefits of laughter and ensure we do plenty of it! How can you not fail to find humour when you have a team which includes supporters of Everton, West Ham and Nottingham Forest!

5. Exercise

It is so easy to roll out of bed, sit down at your desk and not get up again until it is time to make dinner and settle down for an evening of TV. We have really focused to ensure that we all have daily fresh air and as many steps as possible, ideally 10k. We have just finished a Virgin Pulse challenge which became a competition of daily steps but it has led to better eating, new sports being taken up and just a general appreciation of how exercise makes us feel better. It is hard when the days are short and when it is raining but exercise is a common talking point among the team.

6. Volunteering

There are so many people struggling during this horrendous pandemic and a number of our team have started volunteering particularly to help battle loneliness. Being involved in fundraising for different charities has also been enjoyable. Giving back has been very rewarding. 

7. Work with amazing clients

We have been focused on working with "aspirational" clients for around 6 years. These are businesses that align to our values, have a strong purpose and employ people that we love to collaborate with. Our clients are amazing, treat us kindly and with respect and this has ensured that we have continued to really enjoy our work.

Whilst we will carry on with these successful activities, I am sure that new ideas will come during lock down three. This is a temporary hitch and the sun will return again soon.