Having been a member for 7 years I knew the format of the meeting like the back of my hand so was looking forward to getting my teeth into the new experience of Group Leader for 2020 without having the added complication of getting used to the format of the meetings!
With a supportive team of members with lots of experience and a tried and tested format I began my role in office with a head full of ideas and passion for furthering the group and maintaining the excellent success of previous years.
However ……working in a GP practice provided me with a heads up with regard to the impending pandemic which was fast approaching. At the beginning of March, the Governing Committee met and a few precautionary changes were introduced as we were already becoming aware of the risks of meeting large numbers of people in closed areas. The area where members gathered for initial coffee and chats prior to the meeting was transferred to the main room so members could distance themselves easily. Members were asked to leave a space in between other members when they seated at the table for breakfast, and subsequent meeting, and those who chose to stay at home had their decision respected.
Prior to the announcement of full lockdown it had already been decided to cease face to face meetings for the foreseeable future.
As a UW distributer I was already familiar with Zoom meetings and was keen to use this facility to introduce some continuity of the meeting and maintain an equilibrium. Using the same format as the face to face meeting, to ensure the structure and familiarity was maintained, we embarked on our first Zoom meeting the following Friday! It was agreed a slightly later time of 8 am would be appropriate as it provided a balance between those who were still going into the workplace and those who were unable to. Also, members were bringing their own breakfast!
A few weeks in, it was suggested that we introduce a social zoom to continue to support each other personally. We are lucky to have a member who hosts a pub quiz and was willing to share his skills so it made sense to combine the two! So our Wednesday Zoom quiz was born.
Timing during the meetings was an issue in the early days as it was difficult to gage how much time was available and how much members had to say, we also had crunching of cornflakes and slurping of coffee before mute all was discovered.
As we enter the 11th week we have come a long way, members are adapting their businesses to accommodate this new way of working, we have introduced one to ones, share screens to show photography and information, and new members have joined the group. We have donated £3000 to our four designated charities and individual members have raised another £1200. We have serenaded those with lockdown birthdays and shared each other’s experiences both personally and professionally. We now have virtual backgrounds and most members have perfected the art of coordinating unmute, talk, mute! We are introducing brain storming sessions to focus on individual members and share ideas of developing their businesses. We are continuing to look out for each other and share business referrals.
Who knows how long this will go on for but in the meantime we are maintaining the fabulous non for profit business group that has been so successful for so many years. If you are interested in joining us on one of our Zooms as a visitor please do not hesitate to contact us.
Utility Warehouse Discount Club
Contact: Jo Forrest
Jo Forrest can unlock great savings for you via the Utility Warehouse a club discount scheme that lets you buy your utilities and telecoms services at a discount.