We are incredibly lucky to have the most amazing team and there’s nothing more important to us than making sure they’re all ok during these challenging times. Even in these extraordinary circumstances, we are not taking our focus off our company culture which we have worked so hard to develop. When your entire team is furloughed, it’s not an easy task but it’s a learning curve and something we’re passionate about doing.
Never before have we experienced anything like this, and it was awful having to furlough our staff. But what we are doing is making sure that we continue to keep them engaged, supported and reassured by coming up with some fun ways to stay in touch until there’s further developments. Owner, Sally, really feels like COVID-19 has given us all a new perspective and brought us closer together, despite being on lockdown.
We have established various, unique ways to protect our special company culture, including using a Facebook group to share photos and updates from Crantock, media articles relating to the pandemic, government information and fun social media posts.
We also have another messenger group where we all have daily banter, posting walks, photos, videos, movie recommendations, family and pet photos, memes, local offers, money saving tips and most importantly, giving moral support for each other at a really stressful time. It’s times like these that bring out the best of humanity too, and we will always make sure that our staff feel part of the new ‘virtual’ Bowgie at a time when they can’t be here in person.
As well as using social media, we arrange video calls with every member of the team to check in that all is well and to see how they’re doing. It’s amazing the array of activities our team are getting up to! One is volunteering with St John’s Ambulance, one is gardening to enter Cornwall in Bloom, another is using their time to write and record music and others are baking and reading. Some of our younger team members have had a tough time finishing school and college very abruptly with exams and proms cancelled – this must be really hard.
One the Bowgie team was due to participate in an overseas rugby tour over Easter with his college, which was cancelled due to the pandemic. These are one-off opportunities for our young team members and we all sympathise with that they had to miss out on due to COVID-19. Stress levels and anxiety are no doubt on the rise, making it even more important to ensure that our team feel supported – their mental health is our top priority.
We are organising live stream yoga sessions with their regular coach, Issey Yoga, so that team members can maintain some of their normal wellbeing at work activities. Socialising is a huge aspect of life at The Bowgie and we’re doing everything we can to recreate our culture online. It’s all about supporting our team, keeping morale and energy levels high and staying in touch during this unpredictable time.
Sally is also hoping to organise some online training relating to health and safety, and customer service training sessions for staff who wish to take part. This will definitely help to relieve boredom for some and save time when we are able to get back up and running. With training permitted during furlough, we think this is another way of keeping staff engaged and up to date.
One positive thing that has come out of this is that we now all know the names of the team’s children and have been lucky enough to see family photos! This crisis has definitely brought us closer together and we are all very much supporting each other. The other night, we even went stargazing together using an App – it’s something you can do remotely together and as long as there’s clear skies, you can have the best time looking for stars and satellites!
With a vast amount of uncertainty for hospitality and tourism businesses in Cornwall as a result of the pandemic, we are trying to innovate to not only keep staff engaged, but customers too. We created our very own Bowgie word search to help people pass the time, we held a virtual Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday, we live stream on our Facebook page every day from Crantock and we’re hosting live virtual gigs – just a snapshot of what we’ve been up to!
We are hoping to get a Takeaway click-and-collect menu up and running over the next month or so which will hopefully involve at least two of our team members coming off furlough which would be amazing! At a time when people’s work and personal lives have been thrown into disarray, we want to do everything in our power to support the team, our culture and the business so we’re ready to go with all guns blazing when the restrictions are lifted.
Our team are absolutely vital, and their wellbeing is the most important thing to us. Some people are OK dealing with isolation and not seeing their work mates every day, but some of us need some more interaction and ways of structuring our days.
We will all get through this together and hopefully come out the other side even stronger and more resilient.