6 Things We Learned in 2021 – A Year in the Life of Especial

Natalie Miller
Natalie Miller
December 24 · 8 min read

6 Things We Learned in 2021 – A Year in the Life of Especial

It’s been a whirlwind of a year, hasn’t it?

For a multitude of reasons, the global pandemic being a major catalyst of course, but also because we find ourselves in a different economy globally.

It’s been a year in which businesses across all sectors and with all types of business structures/sizes have needed to make changes internally to adapt to these new times.

We here, at Especial, have consciously taken the time to reflect on the last year and feel that this is a grand time to share a bit of what we’ve learnt.

Our team has come together and each shared what they have learnt over the last 12 months. Be it something personal, or something work related, each person has taken a bit of time to self-reflect.

It’s something we think is important here at Especial. Taking a moment to process and digest is just as important as output and work ethic are. We believe that they go hand in hand and that one is actually dependent on the other one.

1 Start Small To Stay Consistent

It’s all about not biting off more than you can chew.

This is a thought pattern that has been part of the ‘Especial work attitude’ for some time now, we have always felt it smart to start small then build from there. In a dream world, we’d be able to apply this clever strategy at every turn.

However, in general, we tend to have the habit of trying to put as much on our plates as possible so that we have a nice amount of workload, can impress colleagues perhaps even with how much we’re able to take on, and also set ourselves a challenge. A challenge is great, but only if it is manageable.

Two great books that add a bit of information on this topic if you’d like to read them are Atomic Habits and The Compound Effect. They both focus on common themes in line with the thought of setting smaller goals and then as you get more comfortable with them, you can take the next step and organically grow and develop healthier work habits.

The two books were so helpful, and the process was in line with what this team member felt that he was even able to become more productive. He found the principle so useful that he used the opportunity to learn a new tech framework and what he learned by building an app called Snapshot Growth, which you can find here.

One thing that one of the Especial team members learnt was to start small with tasks, as this will ensure that continued energy and great output can be achieved. It’s such a simple principle, and the takeaway was this:

‘’Set small goals until you become consistent enough to set bigger ones’’.

Got it? Good!

2 Great Products Need A Great Team. And A Great Team Needs Great Processes

Processes span across a wide range of topics.

The most important ones that we have noticed are our internal processes. We need to ensure that our internal processes allow enough freedom to ensure that each of our team members can be as creative as possible. While also being clear enough to offer clear goals and guidelines that team members can plan around and rely on.

On the other hand, we also noticed that processes always need an equivalent counterpart on the side of the client to manage their expectations while also giving them the freedom to be open-minded and accept creative ideas.

So, the thing learnt here is that each process needs to have a defined and established plan of action. This way we can ensure productivity, creativity and a positive workflow.

Setting up smart processes takes time, this is also something that we noticed. So, the key here is to learn through trial and error, but also to be patient as you learn. Once you have a process that works it is key to implement this throughout all team members that are involved, it may seem tedious and time-consuming at the start but once it has been implemented for some time, it will become second nature and that is when you are golden!

3 Take Pride In Your Work

This one sounds really natural, right?

It’s unfortunately not. There is such a high percentage throughout the workplace of people feeling stifled at work due to them not taking pride in their work.

It is vital to take time to accept that what you have done is your best, and that that is really the only thing you can do.

One of our colleagues mentioned that they often felt stressed when thinking about tasks at hand, but the moment they reminded themselves that they were doing an outstanding job and reminded themselves of what they achieved so far they immediately felt more comfortable tackling more tasks. Sometimes it's really helpful to take a break and look back to get a boost of confidence.

Every so often it truly comes down to giving yourself a pat on the shoulder and that’s all you need to lift your spirits, bring some life to your ego and give yourself energy to go on and continue with your work day.

Feeling disengaged at work due to feeling no pride in your output can harm your productivity, which will subsequently affect the company’s productivity too. Here is an interesting article on the importance of employee engagement ‘8 employee engagement statistics you need to know in 2021.’

How you ‘pat yourself on the shoulder’ can look different to everyone. For some it may be taking five minutes quietly to say some affirmations, for others it may be spoiling themselves to a fancy dinner after handing in a big project. Either way, it’s important to take the time to do something as your own personal round of applause.

4 Internal Encouragement is Key to Success

Human Resources to the rescue!

There is nothing better than working for a team in which you feel appreciated and seen.

When we say ‘Encouragement’ what we mean is this kind of scenario:

1: ‘Hello Boss/Colleague – I know you gave me this task to do, and I am really excited to do it well. I thought about what you said, and I think we can improve this process if we implement X and Y. I need a bit of extra time for this so that I can make it my own. How does that sound?’

Answer: ‘Amazing! I am happy that you have put your spin on this whilst staying in line with our brand image and brand style. That sounds great, I believe in you! Here are two of three programs that may be helpful for you. Please reach out and let me know if you require help’.

This above example is the perfect form of communication. Direct, business-like, kind and helpful. Working in this kind of business environment will allow everyone on the team to feel like giving their best because they know they can rely on their fellow colleagues for moral support and assistance should they need it.

This is especially apparent and useful for new team members. Starting at a new firm, bakery or agency can be scary, and having communication lines like this will help new employees feel comfortable and confident in their role.

It may take more time to answer with longer and more caring sentences, but in the long run it is so worth it because it creates a friendly working environment

There are so many benefits to this, if you’re keen on knowing more, take a read through this article ‘The 5 most intriguing benefits of friendliness in the workplace’.

5 Gaining Trust

Trust is key to success.

It’s hard to come by and even harder to maintain.

When we talk about gaining trust here, we’re talking about gaining the trust of our cherished and valued clients.

It’s a conversation that we have often among the team and something that lingers in the back of our minds. The reason for this is that we believe that trust goes hand in hand with us delivering a stellar piece of work for each and every one of our clients.

We are constantly thinking about how we can improve on our services and offer our clients something new, modern and forward-thinking. The moment we have a beautiful piece of code or have managed to technically solve an issue that a client has been struggling with for years, we can feel the trust between ourselves and the client's building.

We hope to continuously grow on that and improve that.

We have also learnt though that trust goes both ways. Sure, it’s massively important that our clients trust our advice and consultation. But it is equally essential for us to know that we can rely on our clients to give us freedom to work independently in our area of expertise, to trust that we know what is best for them when it comes to website design and tech consultation and feel supported by them when we stick our necks out and try something new for them.

Trust is so critical, and we have learnt that once it is set, what can be achieved is endless because both parties are willing to be honest, open and give useful (not damaging) feedback. They’re both set on the same common goal: To achieve and create something great.

6 Stay active

This one is as old as time, but somehow either gets forgotten or is overseen.

Physical health is majorly important. You need to find ways in which to release and unburden yourself when you are feeling stressed.

Staying active doesn’t only mean doing some crazy exercises, it can also mean attending an online yoga class or doing a 10-minute morning meditation to get your day started calmly.

I think this one is unanimous among our entire team.

Here are some videos that have worked for some of our team members, we hope that perhaps they will work for you too:

Yoga with Adriene

Chloe Ting Exercises

PopSugar Fitness

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Natalie Miller
Written by

Natalie Miller

Marketing Manager

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