A year ago today, after a practice day of playing office at home, the MarketFinance Team went fully remote. Our awesome IT Manager, Dan Kennedy, went into true Hero-mode to successfully set it up for us all. He's been keeping our cogs whirring and teams connected as we swapped the office for our homes 365 days ago!
The past 12 months have seen challenges and opportunities for the SME community like never before. Amid all the uncertainty, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. We're looking forward to safely getting back together in the office and seeing more businesses take down the shutters once again.
The Office for Budget Resposibility (OBR) has predicted a faster recovery or the economy, returning to pre-pandemic productivty by the middle of next year. Along with the vaccine rollout and the Governor of the Bank of England's even more positive outlook, suggesting we'll get there by the end of this year, there's a lot to look forward to.
Right now, however, we're going to take a little look back at what this year has been like for the MarketFinance Team. It's hard to tell whether the year has Zoomed by or if we've been living this way for years. Through the ups and downs of remote working, we're all appreciative of the new flexibilities we've been able to enjoy and will be holding onto that however or wherever we work in the future!
We're a social bunch at MarketFinance, so losing the daily chats and coffee breaks at the office has been tough. Those small moments are the hardest to recreate virtually but Zoom has allowed us to stay connected while we're so far apart. "Can you see my screen" has certainly been one of the year's defining phrases, but we're grateful that we've been able to do our jobs from the safety of our homes, and have huge respect for those frontline workers who have suppported the country during the pandemic.
The year in Zoom:
- We've spent a total of 2,353,101 minutes on the platform. That's 39,218 hours of Zoom calls, across nearly 21,000 meetings!
- We've even hosted 5 webinars on Zoom to connect to the wider lending community
- And not to leave out our instant messaging... We've sent nearly 3 million Slack messages (not all of them gifs)!
The late nights and hard work to keep funding flowing to our customers paid off in May when we were the second Fintech to be accredited for CBILS. Fast forward to now and we’ve been able to help more businesses than ever before and won a £10m innovation grant to push that even further in September from the Banking Competition Remedies (BCR).
Part of our committment to the BCR grant is in helping as many SMEs across the country as we can, and that means we've needed to hire new people. We've welcomed 45 new joiners from across the UK and beyond since the end of March. 17 of those people have joined in 2021!
Although we've been kept physically further apart as a Team, Zoom has also brought us even closer. We are quite literally in each others living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and studies. Pets, young children and even washing machines have made their way into our daily calls and catch ups.
At MarketFinance, we've seen pets from rabbits, rescue dogs, our neighbour's cats... and even a ferret on our computer screens! We even had a litter of kittens safely delivered in one MarketFinance home. The team has grown beyond our employees and it's always a welcome break to see a different kind of friendly face. With the stresses and uncertainty of this year, around a quarter of the Team has an animal friend to support them.
One of the best things about working remotely is that we can cast our net further afield. Living within commuting distance from Shoreditch is no longer a requirement. We're now working from the West Coast of the US to Dubai, via Italy and many other places.
Our partnership with Ebury kicked off this year too. We’ve partnered with them to make international finance simple for all businesses. We’re playing our part by giving their customers access to our quick and easy invoice finance and loan facilities. And together, we're transforming the way businesses in the UK manage cash flow and accelerate growth, whatever territories they’re already operating in – or wherever they want to be.
All those Zoom minutes weren't just spent in meetings. We tried to keep the community spirit alive through virtual events on Zoom too (just like all your relatives). From Family Fortunes to Quiz Nights and our weekly Townhall happening digitally, it's certainly been a different way of socialising. But, it's been a really important tool to help us keep in touch.
At the end of last year we got further into each other's homes when we sent out our Holiday gifts. On top of that, we had a virtual advent calendar with 18 prizes available for lucky winners. And just recently on Employee Appreciation Day we organised a day of lucky draw prizes for the whole company, with 43 vouchers going out at random to the team.
As the country starts to reopen, we look forward to seeing friendly faces in person again at the office. But this year has certainly showed us that the MarketFinance Team is capable of so much even when we're apart. The future isn't certain just yet, but it already looks much more flexible.