Way back in March 2020, we had a defining day in our office at Belair. When the government made the call to shut down all non-essential business, we knew that some of our business would continue as we worked to support essential services, but the way that we work needed to change drastically. Within a matter of 24 hours, our team in the office was packing up their desks into boxes and heading home.
It wasn’t until 3 months later that our team was all back working in the office. We learned a lot while serving our customers, developing new products, and communicating to our plant. Our goal was to maintain our level of service while continuing to innovate and build the company that we are all proud to work for. Now, after multiple stay at home orders, we have become more flexible than we have ever been in how we work!
Though we have faced many challenges, a wise friend of ours taught us to call these challenges growth opportunities instead. We are proud of what we have accomplished and how we have grown in the midst of a changing and challenging world so we wanted to share what we experienced and learned!
GROWTH OPPORTUNITY 1: Organization
When systems have been built around in-person in-office flows, nearly everything changes in how you communicate when you are not together. In manufacturing, every single request / order / inquiry causes a chain reaction between many departments. At Belair, where we pride ourselves on being as flexible as possible, we wanted to maintain our high level of care and precision with every order.
We set up our teams, both in the plant and at home, with new and easy ways to communicate for urgent needs and questions. Most communication became email and chat based. We put a big focus on improving the process of communication flow and have seen better results than ever before.
GROWTH OPPORTUNITY 2: Innovation
The demands of the industry changed quite rapidly. We are still seeing these changes and learning how to cater to the “new normal”. Product development began to feel like the Wild West with everyone grasping for new relevant products that were expected to be brought to market in little or no time at all.
Our team worked quickly and somewhat frantically at first because of our passion to support our customers who want to be selling relevant products. As we grew through this tension we learned two key valuable characteristics that we found we needed to grow in to help our process get more traction, and honestly, become more enjoyable. First is trust: The more we started to trust that we are all striving for the same goal of fighting for the families that we are connected with, it became a unifying factor that got us all moving in the same direction. The second is Healthy conflict: The ability to know that we can trust each other and so it is ok to disagree becomes something that allows us to really get the best results we can. To be honest we still have a lot more growing to do in these categories but we are excited to be headed in the right direction and look forward to what is to come.
GROWTH OPPORTUNITY 3: Isolation
At Belair we feel blessed to have a great team with excellent comradery. When working in person, we have daily meetings with every department present to ensure all hurdles for the day are out of the way. We made sure to continue these from home, and asked everyone who was part of the day-to-day inquiries to link in. This allowed us to connect with everyone consistently and know what might be a hurdle for them that day.
We would also play the odd game of mad gab on Friday; an image of the card would be sent via chat and we would keep score of who could guess the answer first. It was a great way to have some fun together!
Connection, knowing you’re appreciated, and a bit of fun, are all non-negotiable for us, lockdown or not. Having to fight to find ways to continue those things while working from home has been a challenge but it has reminded us what is important.
Some key lessons we are thankful for as we keep pressing forward…
1- How well we can adapt when we need to. We have an amazing team, which we already knew! We got to see them grow and create in the midst of a stressful season.
2- Being able to use technology to communicate and stay connected.
3- Learning to become more unified by narrowing our focus.
4- Focusing more on our process has improved our outcomes.
5- Even when things are new, scary and stressful, we work with people who have our back and support and believe in us.
6- It’s good to have fun together and stop and smile every once in a while.
We are curious… What lessons are you thankful for through this pandemic?