Lockdown, how being apart has brought us together
We’re now several weeks into lockdown, with “the good old days” starting to feel somewhat nostalgic. Just like a warm and comforting distant memory. The Allegro Optical team have been filling their lockdown days with a combination of music-making, looking after their families and in Josie’s case, still working in the background keeping our accounts and admin department together.
To be honest, the prospect of closing our practices left Sheryl and Amy having a bit of a meltdown. The prospect of not going to work horrified them both. Neither relished the idea of either working from home, or being furloughed. Now there’s a word none of us had used before March. It now trips off the tongue with alarming familiarity. In early March’ all the social distancing, sanitising everything, hand-washing to the tune of Happy Birthday, were by then the norm and fairly easy to cope with. Even when the glazing lab shut down with less than 24 hours’ notice, resulting in huge delays to jobs currently on order, we soldiered. Providing essential, urgent and emergency eye care and repairs only.
Many of our team viewed the prospect of weeks of lockdown with only their nearest and dearest for company with dread. As we all listened to prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on that first Monday evening we all realised life was about to change in a way none of us could ever have imagined.
How we are coping
The business implications of the lockdown have been a challenge and daunting to say the least. With all of us worrying about our livelihoods and our family’s well being. We have had to try to work out how to keep Allegro Optical running successfully. Protect our employee’s jobs, and continue to be there for our customers. However, as the lockdown continues and we all begin to feel the effects of the virus in our lives. The mood is now one of deeply felt solidarity.
Luckily we have always been pretty adaptable. Now a few weeks in, a fair few of us are counting our blessings. Firstly, Sheryl and I have been given the time to review our business. We’ve looked at implementing some changes. Maybe even change Allegro Optical’s business model going forward. Obviously we will continue to give the excellent service we have become known for.
Secondly, by closing the practices to the public, Sheryl has been able to get out and help our clients. Many of whom have in the past struggled to get into us. Often because of mobility issues or poor health. It has been an honour and a privilege to be able to help our more vulnerable clients at a time of real need. Sheryl has really enjoyed the opportunity to help these clients. Many of whom are self-isolating and don’t see anyone for days on end. Even from a safe distance, they have appreciated the contact.
Thirdly, the musical members of the team, myself included, have embraced the opportunity to make music. We have shared the results and paid tribute to all the amazing key workers keeping our country going at this difficult time. James has made some fabulous Acapella videos which we have shared on social media. He was even featured by the Oldham Chronicle following his first video.
Zoom away while staying at home
Our team has all kept in touch thanks to Zoom and a team WhatsApp group which we will probably continue to use long after the lockdown has lifted. In a way, these virtual get-togethers seem to have helped cement us as a team and have helped the teams from both practices to come together as one. I believe that the staff team are now a closer-knit community than they have ever been.
After the initial adjustment, and as we have all adapted to the restrictions lockdown brings, the possibilities going forward seemed almost endless.