2020 has been a year like no other and we’re only halfway through! To ensure we remember the good, the bad and the ugly of this ‘annus horribilis’, the IMPACT team have prepared a letter to Australia sharing their experiences and wishes for the future.

Nicole Webb, Founder and CEO

Dear Australia, 

Well what a rollercoaster the past few months have been, and it looks like we are in for more twists and turns given what’s going on in Melbourne. 

I remember seeing news crews at Sydney airport interviewing passengers as they arrived from Wuhan thinking why did we let that plane land? It shouldn’t have surprised me – the missteps from the Morrison government during the bushfires only proved they didn’t know what to do in a crisis.  

Eventually they closed the borders and that’s when things went crazy.  

When the pandemic started, our clients turned to us to help navigate the crisis, or in the case of some of our US-based clients, cancelled their contracts or reduced budgets. It was immediate. The local teams did not see it coming and why would they? They were about to have the best year ever. 

In those early days I had a video call with our international partners at ECCO and their faces said it all. Some were down 80 per cent on revenue. The next day I had another video call with my TEC mentoring group. All SMEs, and again their faces said it all. We were all in shock. We didn’t know just how bad it was going to be, but it didn’t look great.  

The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was a pre-arranged call with my financial advisor – the timing couldn’t have been worse. I heard the words  “…and your business in three years’ time” and I lost it. After two very sombre video calls with my peers, I didn’t know if I would have a business at the end of the year, let alone in three years’ time. I cried, I sobbed, rescued only by my beautiful family who were home schooling at the time. We ate Simone Logue pies on my bed and binge-watched Jane the Virgin on Netflix for the rest of the day. 

Being a business owner, you have to be glass half-full or you just wouldn’t do it. We were really busy helping our clients with their internal and external messaging, tone of voice, crisis escalation plans and making sure they were seen by government as an essential service – just in case we went into complete lockdown as they did in New Zealand.  

We seem to have come out the other side, weathered the storm. We’re down by 30 per cent in revenue, so we applied for the Government’s Jobkeeper. I hated doing that by the way – I don’t like asking for hand-outs and there were a lot of people worse off than me, but I have mouths to feed – 11 employees and their families relying on their pay-cheques. We will keep our heads down and continue doing what we do best.   

Actually I tell a lie – we will not keep our heads down. We will test, experiment and learn. We will look at what’s changed and what hasn’t, make discoveries and adapt. Out of this crisis will come change, and that’s exciting! 

I hope you, my beloved country, learn from this tragedy so the generations to come don’t experience the fear we all have. All I can say is thank god I live where I do – I used to complain how far away we are from the rest of the world, but now I see it as a blessing.  

Take care Australia. 

Nicole 

Leah Callaghan, Account Executive 

Dear Australia,  

What a time to be alive. Forced pause and time for reflection. 

Although this time has caused some unavoidable stretching and growing pains, I can only see the silver lining in all this time. 

What a time to slow down. To disconnect. To re-connect with oneself and with those who truly matter. A forcing away from the things that make us compare, or complain, critique or wish for something we don’t have. In this time, I have cherished the opportunity to have no FOMO.  

I can now see the value in a slow and simple life. I can see why the older generations have been so mad at us millennials for going too fast and using so much. Many generations have mused with much wisdom that if only we gathered with family more, and clicked screens less, we might see feel anxious and finally learn to be content.  

I emerge from this cocooning time determined to be more purposeful in my actions and interactions. I feel more certain and secure in my relationships. I know the friends who are ride or die, who will be there if I call once every six months or once a week.  

Australia, I hope you have made special memories from this unique moment in history. I pray you will continue to lend your ear to those in need and turn your mind to the state of your own heart.  

I hope as we move into the remainder of 2020, we will emerge wiser and with more love for ourselves and for others. Knowing that nothing in life is more beautiful than being present and knowing peace. 

Leah.

Bonnie Radcliffe, Account Executive 

Like everyone, my experience with COVID-19 has of course been unusual. My first summer in Sydney ended very abruptly, following a forced two-week isolation due to exposure to coronavirus (luckily, I didn’t catch it!)  

During this period, day blurred into night, work hours became vague and finishing the day at 9pm didn’t seem like such a foreign or stressful concept, re-watching old television shows only contributed to feelings of existential crisis, and contactless grocery drop-offs soon felt very normal.   

Borders closing across the country made the notion of simply ducking home to see family in Queensland an impossible concept, so I quickly learned that it was time to make the best of a bad, unusual, and unavoidable situation.  

I caught myself thinking, There’s no going around this, so how am I going to make this time the best it can possibly be?  

The answer was seeking contentment in the daily aspects of my life and being conscious of all of the ways that I lead a life of abundance. This simple shift in mindset helped me to appreciate the wonderful things in my life, which were only amplified due to the circumstances. 

Inherently introverted, the idea of remote working sounded like a dream come true, and it has been. It’s helped me to feel settled, to stay focused, boosted productivity tenfold and has made my communication with colleagues much more considered.  

As someone at the start of my career, this experience has helped me to achieve a level of independence and autonomy usually reserved for people much further into their working life.  

I’ve been able to substitute my daily commute time to spend time doing things that make me feel happy and fulfilled. Sunrise swims, lunchtime walks in the park, sowing seedlings in the backyard during moments of writer’s block and of course, wearing slippers instead of kitten heels have reinvigorated my workday. 

I’ve felt so lucky that this experience has allowed me to create a perfect balance between work and life. I’ve appreciated a slower and more present lifestyle and have felt a level of contentment that was completely foreign to me until now.  

I’m not sure what a post-COVID world looks like, but I know that the lessons I’ve learned during this period will stay with me no matter what. What a time to be alive! 

Charlotte Hartley-Wilson, Account Manager 

Dear Australia, 

I’m currently working from home and while it has its challenges, I find myself extremely lucky to still be employed and working. Millions of Australians have lost their jobs, businesses and sense of purpose with no end in sight for a return to normality. 

While going from working with 10+ people in an office to working remotely in an apartment on my own during the day was definitely a shock, IMPACT have come up with ways to keep connected during this time and I am so thankful for that. 

We attend a virtual group meeting every morning to check in with each other as well as say one thing we’re each grateful for that day – it’s a great way to share positivity in such uncertain times. I’ve learnt that touching base with your colleagues (and seeing their faces over video chat) even just for just 10 minutes can have a huge impact on your mental health and motivation at work.   

The biggest professional challenge for me is the uncertainty of what lies ahead, in our business and in our industry where, for example, we are seeing more closures of news publications than ever before as a result of the pandemic. 

With a workforce undergoing rapid digital transformation as we move our lives online, the skill sets many of us have built our livelihoods on over years of hard work might not be relevant in a post-COVID world.  

On a personal note, the increased reliance on digital services make me feel particularly sad for the elderly, who often have minimal access to Internet but who (being at most risk of contracting the virus) have adhered to the strictest isolation measures since the start of the pandemic. They must be feeling more disconnected than ever. 

However, while I can’t speak for anyone besides myself and don’t want to belittle the horror that is happening around the world, I hope everyone can find a little bit of joy in moments the pandemic has given us back that make life so important to treasure. 

During isolation, I saw the ocean, sky and headlands that would still be there with all their beauty when the crisis would be over. I saw excitement in people finding new hobbies, finding new ways to entertain themselves and faces lighting up when receiving a call from a friend or family member they hadn’t seen in a while. 

I saw hope in people supporting local businesses, yearning for social interaction we usually take for granted and a new founded appreciation for our brave front line workers.   

I saw people take a step back from the daily hustle and bustle of what we thought ‘normal’ was and start to enjoy the small things in life.   

Charlotte. 

Gabi Selwyn, Senior Consultant

Dear Australia, 

I am reflecting so that you remember this moment in history. And what a moment – months now of our world thrown into turmoil by the scale and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Talk about an experiential crash course in a highly infectious disease. With no known cure. 

Let me paint you a picture of what life has been like – for my outer world and my inner world. 

On a macro level, we witnessed our world in the throws of an unprecedented health crisis. On a micro level, we all retreated into lockdown for our own safety. While leading epidemiologists, public health experts and politicians grappled to execute containment measures and risk analyses, the rest of us watched in shock and fear amidst the daily reports of climbing fatality numbers. 

Our worlds suddenly became smaller, yet our awareness grew globally. Virtual connections kicked in to keep us all communicating and updated across news sites and personal and professional platforms alike. Health professionals rose to the occasion with humility and purpose. Frontline medical staff became everyday heroes as celebrities stayed home offering encouraging words and music of support. Our waterways cleared up thanks to reduced carbon emissions. Our collective consciousness increased. Mental health struggles and neighbourly help came to the fore. 

Businesses large and small and in between either shut their doors or vacated their offices moving staff home to work remotely. Schools closed. Supermarket staff braved the germs providing us with the basics and a much-needed outing. 

In my immediate world, my son and I took up the challenge of working and learning within the confines of our small apartment.  

His world closed down around him – no playdates, no soccer practise, swimming and drum lessons cancelled. Our worlds became virtual – we often shared my big screen computer for both our zoom meetings. We divided up our days into work, learning, an outside activity, board games – a supermarket shop was a welcome break from our cooped-up life.

Trying to juggle work meetings and deadlines coupled with constant disruptions of home-based learning was a challenge. Adding overarching fear and uncertainty to this mix only upped the stress levels. Some days were particularly rough, especially when Year 4 maths strategies were on the cards. When my son was learning about early convict days of our nation or extinct species, it was a better day. We worried about grandparents. I facilitated zoom meetings and facetime calls for myself and my son – for our friends and family in Sydney and around the world. Sharing #ISO war stories was a salve after a bad day ‘at the home office’. Work was sometimes a welcome distraction. I am lucky to be part of a team of supportive, collaborative, caring humans which really made a difference. 

Other times it was tough to focus on work, especially as I was dealing with the added challenge of recovering from a recent random traffic accident. 

It was definitely a time of contradictions – we hunkered down at home alleviating the normal stresses of life; families spent more time together with all plans cancelled, living day to day. No one really knew what was happening and what was ahead. But as the human spirit proves, we adapt, we step up, we support each other, and we soldier on as best we can hoping for better times ahead. May you now, future Australia, enjoy better times now in every way and in generations to come. 

Olivia Bailey, Senior Account Executive 

Dear Australia, 

It’s safe to say that it’s been a transition period as we come to terms with this strange, once-in-a-generation event.  

If you were told a year ago that a global pandemic would bring the entire world to a standstill, I’m sure you’d think we were living in a movie.   

As someone with a long commute to and from work, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the peace and quiet of working from home, but still miss the social aspect of office life! While my dog Zoe has enjoyed my family and I being home more often, it’s been a challenge to turn off my computer of an evening and say “I’ve done enough for today.” 

It’s a learning curve as we adjust to this new way of working. 

I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve been supported by a wonderful family, and work family, and been able to continue working without losing pay or hours. Lockdown has truly given me an opportunity to slow down, to rest both my mind and my body and take into consideration the little things we often take for granted. But I know I’m in the minority, and I hope that those thousands of people who have lost their jobs, especially those in the music, theatre and arts industry, are able to get back on their feet as restrictions lift. 

What I have loved seeing these past few months is that, despite the panic buying craze and people ignoring restrictions, we have been able to truly appreciate the power of humanity. Whether it’s dressing up to take out your bins, over the fence catch ups, baking all the banana bread we can and supporting the vulnerable in our community, we have been able to understand how we, both as a nation, and globally, can come together (even when we’re forced to be apart). It was a truly beautiful sight to see, and I’m hopeful that we have come out the other side with more respect, trust and appreciation for one another. 

Olivia.