What resilience looks like at a small business during the pandemic

Aaron Blank / February 25, 2021

I think we can all agree that 2021 is a year of transformation. As the world navigates new waters, and as Fearey celebrates its 40th year in business, we have been reflecting on what we have done successfully to promote resilience throughout the firm and how it can encourage other small and midsize businesses during the pandemic.

Resilience really takes into account all the things I have learned and studied since the time when I took over the firm back in 2012, and now years later. One most important item is making it known that you need to be and do better than you were before and lead your team to do the same.

Currently, the Fearey team consists of people across the country in five different states and four time zones – some of our staff haven’t even met each other in person. Before shifting the team to this new virtual environment, Fearey was operating at an up to three days per week work-from-home (WFH) policy. Now, though this definitely helped with the transition, but that doesn’t mean it was easy and struggle-free. It takes a while to get to the sweet spot where everyone has an adequate WFH workspace, connecting with everyone and still having fun, but boy is it rewarding.

Many small businesses have been forced to suspend business as usual, furlough workers and rapidly adapt to a whole new way of operating. With such little clarity about the immediate and long-term impacts of the pandemic, few know when, if ever, if they’ll be able to return to business as usual. However, we must adapt and keep going.

When the pandemic began, we worked hard to have team building events, frequently. Whether that be a virtual happy hour or working with Geoteaming, it was a priority to make it a mandatory event that the team had to participate in. An every-other week gathering that wasn’t work related allowed not only me, but everyone to take a breather and remember to have fun. On top of that, one thing we have continued to outside the office is to bring everyone together for a larger group activity, build a team atmosphere and to get to know people outside of their work environment. We have gone kayaking, made sangrias with Drag Taste, had Team Jeopardy, turned our annual holiday party into a cooking session with two brothers from Tuscany, Italy who taught us their grandma’s ravioli recipes from scratch.

Another thing we have continued to do is the simple art of offering support. Whether it is tangible support, like making sure everyone has a computer or printer, and adequate office supplies, or the personal support, like understanding where everyone is at with their WFH environment and allowing for flexible work time. I know all of this may not be feasible for every small business out there, depending on budget, but it all comes down to connecting with every colleague and listening to their needs.

Lastly, we encourage. Yeah, yeah, I know, this should be a given. But, during stressful times, it can be easy to forget to celebrate successes around the workplace or in the team’s personal lives. We have started a greeting card program, making it a fun competition to have each employee send out one physical card per week in the mail. At Fearey, we’re passionate about building relationships with our community. On Slack, our preferred remote workplace chatter box, we have a channel dedicated to celebrating and calling out positive things that happen to the team. It is something as simple as this that makes everyone feel at home and encouraged to keep pushing.

At the end of the day, if you have a strong team, happy clients and are pushing out good work, that’s all that matters.

 

So, what does resilience look like to you at your small business in 2021?

 

Aaron Blank
CEO + President
Fearey

Aaron Blank GIF

Aaron Blank

CEO & President, Partner

Aaron has been engaged in the conversation since the late 1990s, where he discovered his love of media while working at local radio stations. After five years as a radio reporter, anchor, producer and promoter in New York and Connecticut, he and his wife, Lacey, ventured west to begin his career in PR. Soon he caught the attention of industry legend Pat Fearey and the rest is history. Two decades later, as CEO and owner of Fearey, Aaron leads with tireless enthusiasm and contagious drive. In 2014, he became the next generation owner of the firm. He takes his breakfast at 4:30 AM and never eats lunch alone. You can find him working to connect the next business with tomorrow’s leader.

Personal philosophy: do something amazing every day and be fearless!