The Staying Connected Series: 2 – The power of connecting business sectors

Will Lewis | 01 March 2021

The ability to stay connected in numerous senses has dramatically changed over the past eleven months due to government restrictions and multiple lockdowns. Though staying home protects everyone’s physical health, having little to no physical contact with those outside of our home can be detrimental to our mental wellbeing. The pandemic has adversely impacted the ability to connect to family, friends, colleagues, and clients.

OBI’s staying connected series focuses on the power of staying connected and the positive experiences some of our team have experienced over the past year.

Series 2 -The power of connecting business sectors

By Will Lewis

Since March 2020, we have all had time to reflect on how we work. One of the most important lessons I have taken from the past year is the power of connections.

Being connected to friends, family, colleagues, and clients has played an important role in getting me through during lockdown. And not just those I speak to every day: It has actually been a time where I have re-connected to some old contacts I had drifted apart from.

A phone call or a Zoom chat, or even sending a card in the post has proved helpful all round and added some positivity – it’s great to hear how people are getting on. Strengthening existing relationships and even creating new friendships has been the key to my lockdown sanity!

Being asked to put together a blog on the power of staying connected got me thinking that being connected is a lot more than just relationships between individuals.

Staying connected becomes even more powerful when you start considering connecting communities, towns, and cities, or even the nation.

During the pandemic I was asked to be part of the Manchester Sounding Board – a group of people from various sectors across Manchester. The objective is simple: to ensure Manchester returns stronger in the post-pandemic world.

This initiative has provided the opportunity to meet new people and gain an understanding of a diverse group of sectors: education, arts & culture, retail, hospitality, food and beverage, airports / travel, events, all of which have been impacted.

I’ve been connected with lots of passionate people who are top of their game and understand their sectors intimately. There is one common theme – everyone cares about Manchester.

Connecting people from different sectors has, I hope, been beneficial to all of us, giving each a greater understanding of what others need in the post-pandemic recovery, and how we might be able to help each other as we all work to make sure Manchester returns a stronger and more rounded city.

For example, what can the world of business do to support arts & culture as it looks to rebuild? Surely employees would gain a lot from being part of backing a cultural renaissance? How can we all support retail, by adding to the visitor experience city-wide and making Manchester as fun, safe, and attractive as we can?

With all these sectors coming together, across both public and private sectors, will hopefully ensure the recovery plan is complete and all encompassing.

It is not the time to rest. All of us need to continue facilitating connections across all sectors. Take the time to do it, as you never know which introductions can spark something. It doesn’t cost a penny, and the upside could be massive for the city.

On a wider scale too, connections are the key. There could be an opportunity for both digital and physical platforms which in time could be extended to connecting UK cities to collaborate and innovate.

“Staying connected” is a strong phrase. It becomes even stronger the more you live it, and keep thinking on how you can bring people together. It can’t do any harm and might do us all a lot of good.

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