Who knew, back in February/March, how much things would change over the course of a few months?
At the start of the year we were making plans for what looked to be our busiest season ever. So much so that we were doing a heck of a lot of boring stuff on the business end of things, as well as changing employee roles, in order to facilitate the smoother running of the company.
And then along came Coronavirus…..
There were some rumblings at the end of February / beginning of March about the increasing number of cases in Ireland, but nobody seemed sure what was happening. At the start of the second week of March, as the stark reality of the pandemic really began to set in, we started to get cancellations. Then the Taoiseach made it all very real with his press conference from the U.S. on 12th March – schools were closing immediately, and none of us doubted but that we were heading for a lockdown. Friday 13th was as unlucky as it’s reputation, and on that day we were forced to close the business indefinitely.
It was difficult and upsetting to gather as a management team to discuss how we would communicate this awful news to our loyal and hardworking staff. Emotions and stress levels ran high, made worse by the complete air of uncertainty, none of us knowing what the future held. The hospitality industry was universally identified as one of those that would be worst affected by the pandemic, so we couldn’t even reassure the crew about when we’d be back in business – we simply had no idea ourselves!
Lockdown was a mixture of highs and lows. Some staff tragically lost family and friends to the virus. Some used the opportunity to change career, and sadly have moved on. Some opted to return to their country of origin. All are in our thoughts, and we wish them well. Like so many people did, we took to Zoom to stay connected, and had a few staff “check-ins” to keep morale high. A lot of baking and cooking photos were shared on social media, and we now know that some of our crew have hidden talents in the kitchen! Some of us even managed to enjoy a bit of much-needed down time after all the hard work of the previous few months. It was also a time for reflection – on where we started, and how far we’d come. It was great to look back over the great events we’d been involved in, and remember the wonderful people (clients and staff) that we’d encountered, and to share those memories on social media.
Slowly but surely the work has restarted, and after charging our batteries we are raring to go! We are of course taking our responsibility and duty of care to staff and customers very seriously. Staff are being provided with necessary training in infection control prior to returning to work. We are carrying out temperature controls at the start of shifts, and providing staff with the necessary PPE and sanitising products to enable them to work safely. The management team are all being trained to Lead Worker level in infection control.
It’s difficult to predict what the rest of 2020 will bring, but the initial signs for the country seem positive. Whatever comes our way, we’ll meet it with the same grit and determination we bring to every challenge.