As the pandemic evolves, we all are being thrown new challenges. At Methods we are focusing on our people and our clients. We have homed in on the phrase ‘Methods Maintaining Momentum’ to rally our spirits whilst we adjust to this new norm. The closure of our offices means our kitchen conversations now happen on our ‘Teams Teapoint chat thread’,  and some of us have become experts on which headsets work best for each video platform. However many of us are used to remote working whether on client site or whilst travelling, and our infrastructure therefore was already set up and supporting this style of working.

Our social interaction is the element that hits us hardest, especially when our new offices have been designed so openly to allow for such interaction to take place . To overcome this, we have introduced a number of initiatives, one you may have seen on our recent social postsPeter Rowlins, Methods’ CEO, has started a blog.

A mix of business and client updates and the comings and goings of the Rowlins family, has provided some lighthearted relief during remote working and united us all. Not to mention we have learnt a thing or two about Peter along the way!

To finish off the week before we all ‘hop’ into the Easter weekend, we wanted to share with you a few little snippets across Peter’s posts. Undoubtedly you will relate to some of the scenarios Peter highlights, from keeping a young family fed and occupied, to maintaining Methods’ business momentum.

 


 “Day 2 of working from home.”

Don’t worry there wasn’t a day 1 blog that you missed, and there may not be a day 3 – we’ll see… I will be writing fairly regularly though to have an informal chat to everyone. Despite it being day 2 I have already learned a few lessons about working from home, I didn’t go outside the house until 3.30pm yesterday.  I must get some fresh air earlier.

So some really good news in amongst all the more challenging stuff about the Virus and lock-down. IR35 has been postponed for a year.

The Senior Management Team had a good virtual session yesterday talking through our initial thoughts on the implications of what the next few weeks might mean – we don’t have all the answers but we have some sensible ideas.  Pat Crossley-Smith came up with the phrase that I like best – “Maintaining Momentum” – let’s try and hope that we can do that for our clients.  Let’s give them the best possible outcomes despite the challenges.

On some personal stuff – why not…. a virtual Hockey club board meeting – very unlikely that we will have any more hockey this season.  We were within four weeks of the end of the season anyway, but still – Saturday’s won’t be quite the same for a while – DIY projects loom.

I haven’t been out to the shops for a few days, so that might be my big trip out today.  I promise no buying of toilet roll, or pasta or paracetamol.”

 

dog

 

Well, yesterday kept everyone on their toes with the latest decision for schools to be closed at the end of this week.  My son has already been sent home in the middle of his mock exams, as he was doing his A-levels in 6 weeks’ time, it’s all a bit unclear.  If he gets to use his predicted grades for university entry – lucky him – that he hasn’t had to go through the exam process.  Actually, it’s pretty unsettling. He is getting back into a bit of X-Box time, but I’m sure that will soon lose its interest.  Most of the time I think the kids don’t have it too bad.  Currently, this must be hideous for them.

We have to work out how we all coexist in the house for a few weeks without any bloodshed.  Good ideas will be very welcome.

So on the work front, news from clients is that they are looking to maintain some form of normality if at all possible. Maintain Momentum at Methods! One client is looking to commission new work to get started in the next few weeks.  Sounds really interesting work planning on saving millions a year through understanding the equipment lifecycle better and looking after that equipment more appropriately.  Takes me back 30 years to my time in the Navy. My inner geek is in full excited mode.

I didn’t take my own advice yesterday and only spent 20 minutes outside.  Today I will get out.  A dog walk and a trip to the shops.

Final note, my seventeen-year-old daughter is back from school, with a nose piercing adding to the extensive collection of ear piercings.  I am not quite sure I get the reason for filling one’s head full of holes?  Can someone explain that to me….probably my age.”

 

 laptop

 

“Day 7 of working from home and Day 1 of “Lock Down, the Movie”.

So my eldest daughter is ill.  Coronovirus – no, not Coronavirus.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, she decided to go and get her nose pierced.  That has now become inflamed and she is feeling really rubbish that she has an infected nose and needs antibiotics.  So we need to send out a squadron to a Pharmacy, whilst we are in Lock Down.

So yesterday we did go foraging for food and came up trumps at the local Tesco. At the check-out the lady on the till told me I had to put back one of my discounted Covent Garden fresh soups, as I had taken four from the shelf.  I felt like saying “I have a family of five to feed, do you know that teenagers eat triple quantities of everything and they don’t help with the washing up.”  All I actually did was apologise and feel some small amount of shame that I had been identified as a selfish stockpiler.

…and work – getting used to this TEAMS calls business.  Weekly sales meeting and the Analytics Board meeting carried out successfully via video.  Good to see we are able to help make a difference with various NHS clients calling us up to help with their urgent problems.  Good to be part of the solution to get through this tricky time.”

 

baking

 

“Some people actually seem interested to know about the stud and swollen nose – so it is now less swollen, and less red – in fact almost back to normal.  The antibiotics that the scouting party came back with are working.  However, the female teenage mood has not improved as her school has ramped up the online workload and expectations that the home lockdown experience would be more about Netflix and YouTube, has been dispelled.

Slightly better news on the other teen front, his school seems to have re-thought running shadow A-level exams as the views are that it wouldn’t be fair or reasonable. Huge sigh of relief all round, not least as he has also received his mock results back and they are good enough to get his university choice. I think the X-Box time will now increase – shelf stacking in Tesco has to beckon soon although that does mean leaving Rowlinsshire, probably with 6am starts and manual labour. I expect some push back.

More good news is that the wife is in a baking mood, boosted by finding some more flour at the back of the cupboards.

So work – with a mostly public sector client base, it is heartening to hear that most customers seem to be managing to work from home – it’s not business as usual but everyone seems to be trying to keep going.”

chickens

 

“So the first proper weekend in lock-down. It was very interesting to hear from a front line head of ITU at a major hospital.  They will be expanding the ITU this week from about 75 to 160 beds, and quadrupling the number of staff that will be re-assigned from other parts of the hospital. We have been given some homework to see if we can help them with their planning and organisation. Rostering so many staff from scratch is obviously one issue, especially when they may get sick all of a sudden. Another challenge is managing the supply chain of personal protective equipment and simply making sure the front line staff have enough clean appropriate gear. With a very high throughput of patients, the doctors and nurses need big quantities of clean gear.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, a first-ever. Out of necessity and to avoid looking like one of the Bee Gees, I really did need a haircut, so in times of crises – who else but your own 18-year-old and a set of electric clippers.  Amazingly, post-chop I don’t look like I have alopecia. In fact two really good things that have come from this: firstly, I have saved myself £20, and secondly, I haven’t had have an inane conversation about planned holidays with the barber.

Have I talked about the chickens? Last weekend in response to the food shortages at the local supermarkets, the boss decided that we needed chickens (live feathered ones) to stave off a lack of eggs and also to support the significant amount of home baking. A week later we now have three chickens who have settled in, known as Hamlet, Nuggett and Chatterbox, although they don’t seem to take any notice of their new names. The eggs so far have come in at about £5 per egg (not sure that is a great return). If we can keep them alive, and not as a meal for our local fox, then we can get to about £1 per egg.

See you all on a screen soon.”

ironing

 

“So yesterday the now nasally recovered tall teen has started making her own clothes. I asked her if she might be able to make something for me. Her riposte was vicious “Sorry Dad I don’t have enough material”. Having seen the skirt she made, I can understand.

The other teen went for a bike ride down to the local parade of shops known as Cozy Corner yesterday. His task was to get more eggs and flour. The chickens, our supposed lifesavers, just aren’t laying quickly enough to keep up with daily baking demands and Tesco seems to not have any supplies either.

It was always likely to happen, but I just can’t dodge the DIY anymore. All those painting jobs in particular that I had managed to avoid. Some DIY things I actively enjoy but painting isn’t one of them. I am sure in households around the world, those really unimportant but tedious minor household maintenance tasks are getting slowly fixed as reluctant men and women finally succumb to the inevitable. You do now have time to do them, especially at weekends. No excuses.

A question for everyone to ponder.  Do you need to do the ironing?  Does it matter at the moment?”

genesis

“Let’s talk music and maybe musical films. Friday night was spent in my man-cave listening end-to-end to “Seconds Out” – Genesis’ double live album from 1977, hi-fi on loud, just immersed. It’s an hour and a half of sheer brilliance. I don’t expect anyone else to understand, but it is.

I am a full-on Genesis nerd. My brother-in-law and I managed once to have a curry with Tony Banks, the keyboard player and his wife, after spending an afternoon in the Genesis recording studio in Surrey. Not much of a claim to fame, but it will do me.

After I had finished my Seconds Out indulgence, I found the two daughters finishing off the film “Mamma Mia, here we go again”.  The oldest was struggling to come to terms with the plot, specifically the dilemma and consequences of not knowing who was the father. I tried to explain that the film is a vehicle for an Abba-song-fest and not perhaps to be looked at in forensic detail for consistency and coherence of plot.  Cue Super Trouper as the finale.

Another guilty pleasure and admission is that “Pitch Perfect” is one of my favourite films, which was on ITV last week. All the family are astounded that I love it especially when I start singing along. Torture for everyone else.

On the day job, back at Methods, we have made it through March, hurrah. But it is a week to week juggling act, and whilst we still have no clarity on how long the lockdown will last, we have to hold tight.

Stay healthy and safe everyone.

Peter”

 

If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to contact me on peter.rowlins@methods.co.uk