BAY TREE VA

COVID-19 Business Case Study 
As an established team of virtual executive assistants, supporting business owners and senior management teams, we were already an adaptable business, working from our own offices.

Published in Suffolk Director Magazine Summer/Autumn 2020

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COVID-19 Case Study: Virtual Assistant and Bookkeepers

Founder and MD of Bay Tree VA, Jane Cattermole shares her thoughts and advice from the COVID-19 pandemic and remote working. 

Zoom was one of our key tools, as well as other internet software packages. We’ve always been heavy users of the Microsoft Office tools but MS Teams was still relatively new, so when we went into lockdown, we did have to get a wider understanding of its vagaries. 

Don’t be complacent

It’s 12 years since Bay Tree VA started, and as a company we were as prepared as we could have been with our style of working. Although we haven’t been unaffected by the pandemic, our mix of clients has enabled business to remain buoyant. That said, it’s not a time to rest on our laurels and I feel there is great instability to come with the end of furloughing. There is an African Proverb I have on my noticeboard which says ‘Smooth Seas do not make skilful sailors’. I take some comfort from this. 

My day-to-day routine has remained remarkably intact as my office is in our garden, although my husband is currently working from our sitting room. We meet up for mid-morning coffee and at the pond for lunch where we’ve enjoyed watching the newts and dragonflies. 

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The remote working tips I have learnt in that time include: 

• Resisting using the kitchen table. 

Even a corner where you can put your back to the room is helpful, so it is your space to get into work mode. 

• Learning to switch off.

Being disciplined about turning your phone off and not checking e-mails during the weekends – I’ve learnt that the hard way. 

• Understanding that remote working applications are great liberators. 

They enable businesses to operate wherever there is a broadband/mobile signal. A lot of the apps are designed to be intuitive and can have a simplicity about them which underplays how sophisticated they are. Harvest (time tracking) and Capsule (CRM) are favourites of ours. 

• Trying to break up the routine to maintain perspective and feel re-energised. 

It’s easy to get into a hamster wheel mentality when running your business from a home office, particularly during a difficult time – you are allowed to take time off!

In many ways, lockdown has forced businesses to adapt how they work, but they’ll come out of it with efficiencies and a wider acceptance of remote working. The change in pace may well encourage people to delegate more, as they don’t want to return to being so frenetic. Flexibility has become a valuable currency. 

The responsibility attached with employing staff will also come into focus, particularly concerning health and safety. Due to the distancing guidelines, businesses may only be able to accommodate up to 50% of their workforce in the office at any one time, and this will have implications on company structure, team support and engagement. 

Feel more organised, gain more time

My top tips for the next few months would be to embrace remote working; consider flexible resourcing as part of your team mix; and be ready for opportunity.” 

Jane Cattermole is Founder and Managing Director of Bay Tree VA T: 01284 828974 E: standingby@baytreeva.co.uk or visit baytreeva.co.uk

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Jane Cattermole is Founder and Managing Director of Bay Tree VA T: 01284 828974 E: standingby@baytreeva.co.uk or visit baytreeva.co.uk

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