By Natalie Luke, Founder and MD, Aduro Communications.

Right now, the number one priority as a business leader is looking after one another and being kind to ourselves. That’s how I believe the agency will continue to thrive through Lockdown 3: The Relockening.

The adrenalin is long gone, the monotony has kicked in and staff have started to dream about packed sweaty commuter trains like some long-lost love.

Now the focus that will set us apart in this time of uncertainty is maintaining connections. With each other and with our clients. The staff member who seemed like they had it sorted, struggling to make their bed in the morning just out of zoom shot; the intimidating client who welled up when discussing the pressures of home schooling and juggling their job; we are all on a level playing field in our daily struggles.

We are all human. To reach out to each in these times of need will drive a collective movement that will protect, nurture and grow us all.

A simple pleasure that has pulled us together at Aduro has been baking - virtually, of course - all together. With the help of a genius baker who guides us through every morsel in its infancy, plus of course much-needed cocktails delivered to our doors. We’ve laughed, cried (blame the dreaded soggy bottom) and chatted together as a team and with our clients. The cheers of delight and commiserations at the results round off the day with a warm glow. These are people that we virtually spend more time with than our families at the moment, after all. We are truly living in unique times.

Virtually, we have all learnt so much about the surroundings of each other and our clients. The nuggets of detail their working-from-home set-up reveals are fascinating; a painting, a coffee cup, an excitable puppy, or the awkward moment their mum comes in to check if they’re okay and ask if they’re ready for lunch.

All of these small windows into each other’s worlds have built bonds between us that no traditional office environment could’ve done.

But the loneliness can be heartbreaking. Seeing staff, clients or suppliers and media at home totally alone for days/weeks on end is unsettling. We work in the communications industry and this is such an alien concept, yet a truth for so many across the UK.

As an agency leader there is a huge weight of responsibility for pastoral care, to ensure that everyone feels looked after and is checked in on. Care packages, team BINGO nights, a wave across the street for birthdays or just meeting one other for a walk in the park: these little things will get us all through it.

Last March I reviewed my notes from a mental health first aid course I did a few years ago, but nothing can prepare you for this. You just have to hope you have done your best for every single person in your care every single day. That’s a responsibility that sits above all else right now.