Our response to Covid-19: Applying change management principles at Inner Circle


We believe that the best solutions are yet to be discovered and the best outcomes yet to be delivered. That is why we prepare organisations for change and help them implement it. We do this through an intimate understanding of their business, a relentless focus on delivery, the use of techniques that challenge the status quo and bridge traditional disciplines. We provide a range of services to public and private organisations including project and programme management, property consultancy, change management and strategy development and strategic advice. Contact us to discuss a project.

As a company we prepare organisations for change and help them implement it – working to define and tackle knotty problems with a relentless focus on delivery. How have we applied our approach to change management to guide our own response to Covid-19?

Inner Circle Consulting team

An agile working culture

Our history of agile working means we were well-positioned to quickly respond to the pandemic. Effective change shouldn’t create any unnecessary additional burden. Change occurs at the same time as the day job, so we make efficient use of people’s time by using existing people, processes and meetings. Change needs centralised coordination and leadership must be dispersed throughout the organisation if it is to truly stick. So what have we done that’s stuck? We have:

A flexible and dynamic team: We only take people on who are outstanding in terms of their attitude and professional delivery, and who live our values of being excellent, collaborative, progressive and tenacious in their work. This means the team are able to maintain momentum and drive, especially in challenging situations like these.

Cloud-based business tools: Our team can access company and project documents from anywhere, and are used to working from the Inner Circle studios, at a client’s place of work, attending a meeting or event, or working from home. Our cloud-based tools enabled us to pivot rapidly to virtual meetings using universal video conference facilities. We also make use of creative digital workshop conferencing and consultation apps such as Miro and MetroRetro.

Prompt and clear communications: Our communications are prompt, concise and clear. In line with government guidelines, we informed the team that the office was closed, and swiftly communicated changes to working practices. A business continuity statement was uploaded to the website and informed conversations with clients about how we could continue to work together. As government guidelines change from month to month, we increased the volume of internal communications to keep team members updated and assured.

A commitment to developing innovative solutions to challenges: We rapidly developed a flexible business plan for how Inner Circle could support the recovery from the pandemic through our work. We transitioned from predominantly working as consultants on client projects, to some of the team being seconded into emergency interim roles with local authorities – helping to provide the urgent public sector capacity needed to respond to the crisis. This meant working in communications at Hounslow keeping the community informed of the latest developments, to supporting the creation of Lambeth Council’s economic support package for local businesses.

A wealth of knowledge and insights to share: We were quick to recognise the importance of sharing our knowledge on leading the recovery and subsequently launched a number of new comms outputs:

  • Our bi-weekly Sunday Edit e-bulletin on ideas, inspiration and insights (sign up above)

  • Leading the Recovery insight articles and tool-kit slide decks shared on our blog, through social media, and by partners

  • A webinar series with our partners Voice of Authority, exploring and championing best practice.

A sociable team: Inner Circle has always valued team meetings and socials. We may have swapped the coffee machine morning catch ups with virtual vuddles, and a drink at the local pub for a quiz or Netflix watch party, but our commitment to letting our hair down and team bonding remains – and is all the more important in the coronavirus context. Slack also continues to be a useful tool for sharing interesting reads and for work banter.

Collaborative and transparent decision making: We are collaborative and transparent in our decision making and consulting on how best to mitigate the potential impacts of Covid-19 on the business is no different. It’s important to provide as much clarity as possible about what will not change, as well as be clear on the elements that may when facing possible change.

Flexible working arrangements: Once the office could re-open following the first lockdown, we made it available for a limited number of people on a voluntary and bookable basis to ensure people’s mental health needs were supported through a chance to interact with others. A budget was also provided to ensure people’s home working set ups are appropriate to their needs. We are fully committed to managing our operations to ensure we continue to offer the best possible service to our clients while safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our team and the communities we serve.

Always left our egos at the door and championed optimism: Finally, leading an effective response to change is not about knowing the right answer, it is about finding the answer that works. No one has a monopoly on ideas and we value input from all levels of the organisation. We recognise what we can sacrifice while protecting the core elements that are required to deliver positive change. Effective leadership is about being the champion of optimism and knowing that barriers will be overcome!

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