Great Expectations!

As we move through the strange times of Coronavirus and the new way of home working, it’s struck me how grabbing the unknown and just going for it is likely the best way of getting through.  A bit like gazing into the Milky Way depicted in the feature photo.  Wonder, possibilities, great expectations for what could be something fabulous.


I’ve spent decades travelling into London during rush hour with a journey time on average of an hour at the start and end of the day without ever considering if there was a better way of doing things.


Enter Coronavirus and Zoom!  Forced to work from home and think of new ways of doing my job using a medium like Zoom to deliver training/coaching with it’s virtual breakout rooms, whiteboards, team chats etc terrified me!  What if it all went wrong.  Well it did at the start.  I forgot to alter my speakers so there was no sound – ouch.  A temp issue which was quickly resolved giving those present a life.  A great little unintentional ice breaker!


Approached by Andy of ISS at PwC to run a session on managing teams during lockdown as well as considering any fears that may be in place in the slow return, I devised content to cover:


  • Dealing with anxiety and overthinking – work, home, travel, what is the new ’normal’ going to be?
  • Key signs that may indicate someone is struggling
  • How to start a conversation – preparation, environment, time, language, empathy not sympathy, virtual/in person
  • Our role – are we trained counsellors? Drawing the line
  • Dealing with difficult to hear subjects – suicide, self harm, FGM, abuse, eating disorders etc
  • What fears do you have in approaching someone? What if you do and they don’t want to engage?
  • What support signposting do you already know of?
  • What’s in your self care toolkit?



Using Zoom’s white boards we ended up with hysterical graffiti walls depicting what new skills we discovered about ourselves during lockdown.  We also managed to do a short poll which showed 100% positivity.


From surveys in so far it seems the course and handouts were well received.  Andy’s requested some more sessions.


So, the lesson of this experience is don’t overthink trying new ways of doing things.  Just do it – as Nike would say.  If anything goes wrong, we learn from it.  Like my first experience with Zoom yesterday, you may find it works really well.  Take a breath and just go with it.

“Jane is a first class facilitator, she makes each session impactful and enjoyable which is a really difficult balance to achieve, I would wholeheartedly recommend. ” Andy Ingham, National Operations Manager for ISS

PPE – confused?


Feeling confused on the PPE situation? Understandable if you are. On one side we have the Government stating there is enough PPE in the system and NHS workers have the protection they need but maybe aren’t using it appropriately – hugely insulting. As professionals the NHS staff know exactly how to use PPE appropriately to protect both them and their patients.

The opposing view is from NHS who state they don’t have enough and are risking their lives. Anyone would vote all NHS workers in hospitals, care homes, hospices, GP surgeries etc, should have more than enough PPE at their disposal. It should not be rationed.

For the first time today, analysis in The Times offers the view that maybe both sides are right. The NHS is massive and the billons of pieces of PPE that the Government have sourced just isn’t enough. See the feature below… ‘Suppliers struggle to fill demands’

This makes sense doesn’t it? With fashion houses making gowns etc for the NHS and FM companies like Churchill Services under the direction of Anthony one of their MDs using their 3D printers to make face masks – it seems we can make the equipment in the UK instead of buying cheap, single use disposable PPE from China. This could be sustainable and cost effective with specialised laundrettes like Geoffrey Gay’s below featured in The Times 13.4.20 enabling kit to be sterilised and used again.

Co-Vid 19 wil end eventually. Can lessons be learned from it’s impact on how to make the NHS sustainable by better procurement?

Only time will tell if logic will win……

Be unique – be yourself….

During the Coronavirus lockdown and overload of information about the pandemic – some factual, some total nonsense, I’ve tried to feed my mind by looking out for positive insights on life.


In this era of physical isolation it’s key to keep emotionally connected with our community – all parts of our community including  family, friends and work.  We are lucky to have the technology to do so via the internet.  It’s so easy to slide into despair if we listen to nothing but negativity.


So I was empowered to read a feature on Dame Karen Pierce the UK’s new, and first female, Ambassador to USA.  Her career makes interesting reading by itself.  One thing is very clear, she has done everything on her terms.


Who else would consider attending a meeting at the United Nations Security Council wearing a feather boa?


On being asked who was her hero, Dame Karen replied ‘Ginger Rodgers – she did everything Fred Astaire  did but backwards and in heels’.  Sums up the power of self-belief and #ICan attitude for both boys and girls growing up.

Speaking of her time in Afghanistan she said ‘the stilettos made me feel more confident’ – imagine wearing stilettos in what was then a war zone?


She has done amazing things through her diplomatic life quietly, without seeking publicity.  Who knew her name?  Shouldn’t we all? A poster person for always being yourself and always believing in yourself.  On her new role involving diverse countries and leadership administrations, Dame Karen says there are always key things countries agree on, no matter what else they disagree about.  You can use these things to build on and reach more agreement in the areas you don’t currently agree on.


Consider that for a minute.  What kind of community would be have after this pandemic if we looked at what joins us together instead of focussing on what divides us?  Most of us have learned what is really important to us is often shared by others.


If we are mindful, this pandemic could be an opportunity to change the celebrity status desire of being rich just for being famous not actually doing anything, of taking what we want from others rather than working for it, and the useless loss of life through knife crime which has either completely stopped during this pandemic or is just not being reported.  Maybe we could create a brave new world where all thrive and all care about one another by being unique, accepting our differences and focussing on common ground – a bit like Dame Karen.


#stayhomestaysafe #nurtureyourmind #crisiswillend

If Marks & Spencer’s can……

Usually, I don’t ready business mailouts.  Usually, they are just sending special offers that really aren’t that special, the usual PR/marketing things.


Last week, I was surprised to receive a mailout from M&S – stating that not only were all their foothalls/outlets still open but all staff still working are receiving 15% pay reward for the extra pressure they are under due to this unprecedented time.  in addition, M&S have not furlonged their remaining staff for the Government to pay 80% of their salary.  Uniquely, M&S are paying 100% of wages of all staff forced to stay at home.


Impressed?  I was.  What a fantastic employer M&S is, thought I.  What will the result of this action be?  Maybe staff will be more committed and positive and their customers during this time will remain long after Co-Vid19 is history.


Hopefully we will also remember those huge businesses who didn’t behave as honourably and take our custom elsewhere.


The Government brought in these fantastic support mechanisms to help small businesses yet large businesses with deep pockets and huge salaries want the Government bailout for themselves.


Take the world of premier football.  The argument for not sacrificing a percentage of premier players salary to support their frontline club staff seems to be they aren’t sure where the money would go and how it would be managed.


If we can set-up a hospital start to finish in 9 days, why can’t they set up a charity to pay their staff from these wages.  They can then offset their ‘donation’ against their taxes – everyone is a winner, aren’t they?


Integrity will shine through times like these.   As will those whose intentions are to abuse the situation for their own ends.


Let’s not forget.  We have an opportunity to make business kinder whilst still being profitable as well as an opportunity to carry-on the community spirit and be kinder to each other once this is over.


I wonder where we will all be on the other side of Coronavirus?  Will lessons have been learned?



News distraction?

It seems the only news worldwide is Coronavirus.

Forced lockdown takes away our control to make our own decisions.

Those that always wanted to work from home are now forced to, if they haven’t lost their jobs, and hate it!

Teenagers who ‘hate school’ now loath being at home!  In many homes right now we have both causing family tensions.

Equally we have key workers – who are also people with families and friends – risking their health everyday to keep essential services going.  We hear regularly about the NHS, supermarket workers and couriers.  But it was only on reading a piece in The Times newspaper yesterday by Libby Purves @lib_thinks that I thought about those bringing goods to our shores namely Seafarers.


I did some work last year with a Japanese international cargo shipping line and learned about the life, hardships, isolation and mental health issues endured by many.  Add into this the global lockdown due to Coronavirus, the issues endured by seafarers has spiked.


It made me reflect on the fact whilst I am lockdown at home with no freedom of movement, I do have a small garden to escape into.  I also have excellent wifi and can see and hear family and friends anytime I want through Skype, Zoom, FaceTime etc.


But what about the global seafarers?  Far from home, stuck on a ship unable to self isolate and worried sick about family and friends they cannot see or hear because wifi isn’t always that brilliant at sea.  Add to this all 200 Missions for Seafarers in ports globally have closed, countries are ‘lockdown’ so going ashore is out of the question.  Left alone and isolated – how would you feel?


Before the pandemic and lockdown Co-Vid19 brought, over 2000 Seafarers died each year – many by suicide.  How many more will die with the additional restrictions in place?


I for one will stop and think about them next time I feel frustrated at having to work from home.


Let’s all hope the Seafarers will all get through this pandemic and back to their families safely.

Respect and thanks to all striving to get our goods to us across the global seas.