5 weeks after the official Covid lockdown started and we at MiddletonMurray are focused hard on progressing and completing our existing cohort of apprentices and traineeship learners.
I always saw their combination of workplaces as a massive virtual classroom and now that is exactly what they are, albeit many are now working from home.... and the big surprise to us is that this transition has not been difficult at all.
Infact we are more in control than ever and productivity of both the learners and our staff has soared.
Moving to the cloud
To be fair, we had a head start. In 2015 despite much internal controversy, we took the bull by the horns and went paperless. We managed it by ‘burning the boats’ or in other words, removing every printer! Everything went into the cloud and we never looked back, no more learners work or employer reviews being carried about by staff in their car boots.
A year later when we moved into our new HQ on the Strand, London we went one step further and removed all landlines. Again this was challenged by many including our IT providers, but to me it was clear that the world was moving to digital and the traditional desk based model just didn’t feel appropriate any more. Very soon our staff were working from home on a frequent basis and face to face team meetings occurred weekly at most.
Full digital connection
A sticking point though was reaching full digital connection amongst the entire company. I was introduced to Zoom by the COO of IBM in the Spring of 2018 and I remember how excited I was to introduce it to my team. We used it periodically but it was never quite a top priority and bizarrely we continued with most meetings face to face. This even included our quarterly strategy meetings where we have always brought everyone together in one place, at great inconvenience and cost, and to be honest not always productively once we got over 100 staff......
And now here we are in lockdown and just a few weeks in we have a smaller rock solid team of delivery professionals giving more care and attention to our learners and employers than ever before. We are communicating as one entire team face to face (on zoom) daily, identifying and resolving issues as they arise and all front end sales are being done digitally … True we have had to lay off 27 staff – and that has been extremely difficult for all concerned - but this was a reflection of our old school reliance on face to face sales and training delivery which just doesn’t work in a digital environment.
Which brings me to one of my main lessons from this...why didn’t we do this before?
The answer is that we allowed ourselves in the last two years to do what was urgent rather than what was important. I knew digital was the way to go, hence launching the Limitless platform, but things got in the way.... Recognising that has been so beneficial because the next thought is what else are we not doing that we should be. What now is important rather than urgent? We mustn’t wait to do that this time....
And my first answer is to start shifting what we deliver to match what I think will now be demanded and that is short mandatory qualifications from individuals and businesses alike. Individuals will want and need to pivot their careers...businesses will need to rebuild with qualified people....and both will want this fast.
We are revamping our recruitment and training offerings in anticipation of a post Covid era and that’s the subject of my next article....
Angela Middleton MBE, Chairman and Founder of MiddletonMurray