Get out there and see for yourself
A lot can change in just three short years. Here we are in the autumn of 2022, and our country is a very different place to 2019. A new Prime Minister. A new monarch. A financial crisis. A sinking economy. A nation bearing the scars of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the face of all this change and uncertainty, it’s all too easy to feel lost, retrench, and isolate ourselves. Instead, we should be doing the opposite.
We need human connection more than ever.
We need to get out there, speak to people, form opinions first-hand and share them with others.
I feel it’s important to say this now because remote working has become the norm in a post-Covid world. People can absolutely do their jobs from home, but I believe it’s better for individuals and organisations for colleagues to meet and share ideas. Not every day should be a home day. You cannot build a workplace culture from behind a screen – you just can’t.
Businesses too will suffer if their people aren’t getting out there and meeting customers in real-life. There is no substitute for a shop floor day, where you go and experience the hustle and bustle in a client’s office or factory, speaking to people across all departments. A 20-minute Zoom call just can’t cut it. As entrepreneurs, we all need to be creating those in-person connections because that is what helps us build better businesses.
I have been to see many BigChange customers in the last couple of weeks and all visits have been invaluable. I have known one of these customers – Hewer Facilities Management – for 20 years but there is always more to learn. This time, we talked about ways they could eradicate paper from their processes, so I spoke to people at all levels in the business and found out their unique challenges. It was fascinating, and helped me to a deeper understanding of this fast-growth successful business.
I also recently visited an amazing charity called FoodCycle, which provides meals for communities all over the UK. When I first heard about FoodCycle, I thought it was a food bank, helping those who can’t afford to feed themselves. It was only by spending time at one of the groups in Leeds that I saw that FoodCycle not only provides nutritious meals, but it also alleviates loneliness, creates community, and battles food waste. I felt the community spirit of the place. I met the people who were sitting round the table, who come from all walks of life. It was a humbling experience.
In my role as Board Observer and Strategic Advisor of MoreLife, I spent time with the whole team in Suffolk recently and listened to them talk about the work they do in the community. One of the people they support allowed me to sit in on her session, and I was incredibly moved. On the surface, MoreLife helps people quit smoking and tackles obesity, but in reality, they go much further, supporting people with challenging mental health issues, and people in crisis. More than that, they do it with such compassion – I only know that because I took the time to see it happen first-hand.
In every part of my life, I try to find time for those human connections. I am an entrepreneur, a chairman, an adviser, an investor, and a philanthropist. My impact across all these areas increases immeasurably when I actually get out there and meet the people I want to help. You should too.