Our Covid-19 Policy for returning to the office

Even though there are no longer any legal covid-19 restrictions in England, here at 1 Accounts we will be keeping some measures to ensure the safety of our clients and staff.

This is especially important to us as not all of our team members have been double vaccinated yet so we want to make sure they remain as safe as possible as we return to the office!

What we’re doing to stay safe

We are planning a staggered return to the office, with most staff members moving to a hybrid work week which will include some days in the office and some days working from home. We will be making sure we are all testing ourselves weekly with lateral flow tests and will not come to the office if we receive a positive result. As we have managed for over a year with the majority of our team working from home we believe that our service will remain the same and we will be able to continue with the same level of service you expect from us.

We are keeping many Covid restrictions inside the office as well. We are maintaining social distancing and have had a 1-way system in place in the office to avoid people having to be in close proximity when passing each other.

For visitors to the office

For visiting clients we have hand sanitiser available and we are asking you to please wear a mask while inside our main office. If you have scheduled a meeting with us, you will be able to take your mask off once we are sat in the meeting room if you are comfortable doing so.

With Covid-19 cases still rising, we are being cautious about our response and will be monitoring the government and medical advice. If our response changes in any way we will be sure to let our clients know. We ask our clients to please be understanding and adhere to these requests as safety of our team and clients is our biggest priority.

alarm clock

How to break free from the ‘Groundhog Day Effect’

We are coming up to a year now of being frozen in time. In fact, it’s starting to feel very much like the start of the pandemic where the government are talking about maybe lifting restrictions if the cases continue to fall. Even though it’s lockdown number three and 15 million people have been vaccinated against the virus, it’s still not looking like we’ll see normality any time soon.

Whereas we could break up the monotony of everyday life before the pandemic, we can’t just take a quick trip out of town or spend an evening at a friend’s house for some variety. We are still faced with this vast expanse of time where we can’t punctuate the end of the day, never mind the end of the week.

So what can we do? How can we break free from this groundhog day feeling, so that we can muster up the energy to make it through the next few months?

6 tips to mix things up

  1. Create a routine and stick to it – it might be boring, but a routine gives you a specific start and finish to your day. Without it, you will just aimlessly float through the days and this will make that groundhog feeling worse.
  2. Inject variety into your free time – while your routine during work hours may be the same each day, around that time is where you can be spontaneous and make each day different. While one evening, you may choose to take a bike ride, the next you could FaceTime a friend, take a bath or run some errands.
  3. Pick a skill to master – mastering a skill doesn’t only stimulate our brains (which is essential for our mental health), but it also gives us a goal and allows us to progress with something. Improving with something makes us experience growth and gives us a sense of control which is essential in this environment.
  4. Focus on exercise – exercise releases endorphins and serotonin (happy hormones); it helps us to sleep and actually gives us more energy. If you can, exercise for 10-30 minutes every day. You can mix it up with a walk one day, yoga the next, and a HIIT workout the next, whatever suits you.
  5. Be there for others – while you might not feel like you have the energy, try helping others. Check-in with your parents and grandparents regularly during the week or research how you can virtually volunteer or help a cause. Being kind will give your days more meaning and it will help you and the people you’re helping feel good.
  6. Seek help – if you’re struggling, don’t struggle alone. Ring a friend or seek support from your family. If you’d rather, reach out to an online Therapist. There are people who care about you and want to listen, and it’s okay to lean on them too. They might be able to provide you with some much-needed perspective.

Even small changes can go a long way

Some days will be harder than others, but even small changes can go a long way. Little things such as walking a different route every day can make you feel refreshed and ready to get back to work or juggling the family. Even if you feel like succumbing to that numbing and self-defeated feeling some days, try to do at least one thing that is different. You might just be surprised by the result.

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4 steps to coping with overwhelming anxiety due to the coronavirus

The Coronavirus pandemic has caused a lot of us to suffer from worry and anxiety over these past few months. Whether it’s been worry for our jobs, our families, our health or the uncertainty of the future, there has been a lot of negativity and panic and worry to be had. As the effects of the pandemic aren’t wearing off any time soon, we wanted to outline 4 steps that you can take to manage your anxiety as, if it’s left unchecked, it can build in the background and quickly overwhelm your everyday life and relationships.

Step 1 – Understand that anxiety is a normal reaction

With all the uncertainty and panic that is surrounding us right now, our brain’s natural response is to worry and to churn this worry around until we find a solution. The problem with that is that there is no real solution to the fears that plague us yet.

To deal with the anxiety that we feel, we first need to understand that this response is just a ‘protective mechanism’ in our brains. This is normal and we can change it.

Step 2 – Identify what is making you anxious

When we accept that this anxiety is normal, we then need to identify exactly what is making us anxious. Perhaps it is constantly hearing negative news? Perhaps it’s worrying about our finances or our children’s lack of education?

Whatever it is that is causing you to worry, identify it and write it down. After just a week, you should see a pattern emerging.

Step 3 – Take control of what you can

Some of these worries that you have will be practical worries and some of them will be hypothetical (the ‘what ifs’). Tackle the practical worries first.

Look at your list of things that are making you anxious and create an action plan for each one. Can you avoid any of your ‘anxiety triggers?’ Perhaps you can limit your exposure to them or you can outline steps that you can take to make them less of a worry.

When you’ve addressed all your practical worries, implement meditation and mindfulness into your every day routine to help with the hypothetical ‘what ifs.’

Step 4 – Put your self-care first

To help cope with stress and anxiety, you need to be sleeping well, eating healthy, drinking lots of water, exercising often, and taking time out to switch off and recharge.

If you take care of yourself then you will make better decisions and you will build positive habits.


The road out of lockdown

Yesterday the English government formally announced it’s 4 steps out of lockdown and all social distancing restrictions. The welsh and scottish governments will follow a largely similar timescale.

The good news is that there is FINALLY an end in sight to the restrictions on trade and movement. However, COVID-19 is now with us permanently, and the government is preparing its long-term plans for ongoing treatment – just like it does for flu each year. The government has already announced a revaccination programme to run in autumn or winter 2021.

This email goes through the key lifting of restrictions. However economic support for businesses adversely affected by restrictions on trade will not be announced until the budget on 3rd March.

The 4 tests

Before lifting any restrictions, the government will apply 4 tests:

  1. The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
  2. Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
  3. Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
  4. Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

The stages out of lockdown

8th March: Step 1A

On the 8th March, schools and colleges will reopen. Up to 30 people will be allowed to attend a funeral and up to 6 for a wedding or a wake. People are allowed to leave their homes for recreation as well as exercise outdoors. But otherwise, the same restrictions are in place to what we have now. Schools are allowed after school sporting activity.

29th March: Step 1B

At the earliest, on the 29th March, 2 households or up to 6 people will be allowed to mix outdoors. Parent and child groups, with up to 15 parents, will also be allowed to meet outside. No household mixing indoors will be allowed. But outdoor sport and leisure facilities will be allowed to open, which also means organised outdoor sport for children and adults will be allowed. At this stage the government is still advising to minimise travel and there is still a ban in place on holidays.

12th April: Step 2

No earlier than the 12th April, we will be allowed to stay overnight outside our own home. But more importantly, non-essential retail, hairdressers/salons/close contact services, outdoor hospitality, plus self-contained holiday accommodation and outdoor attractions will be able to open. At this point, weddings, wakes and receptions can increase to 15 people. Event pilots will begin. There is still a ban on international travel for holidays. Whilst pubs and restaurants will be able to open for outdoor service (no curfew or requirement for a substantial meal to be served with alcohol), patrons will still be expected to order, eat and drink whilst seated.

17th May: Step 3

No earlier than the 17th May, all accommodation can open and international travel is planned to reopen. People can stay away overnight and there is a 30 person limit outdoors, with a rule of 6 or two households indoors. Organised indoor adult sport and indoor entertainment and attractions restart. 30 people can now attend weddings, wakes and funerals. Outdoor large events, with severely limited capacity can now restart.

21st June: Step 4

No earlier than 21st June, the government is hoping to remove all legal restrictions on social contact. So nightclubs can reopen, large events and gatherings can take place.

Economic support available to businesses

At the moment details are at best ‘hazy’. And the government has promised full details of the support available in the budget on 3rd March. However click here to see what we know so far.

A sign in the clouds

Lockdown 3.0 – A covid business update

Lockdown 3.0 has felt like an eternity. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccinations being rolled out. Hopefully everyone will have some more clarity when the Prime Minister announces his road map to normality on Monday the 22nd of Feb.

Many businesses have taken on the Government support schemes throughout the pandemic and some of these are scheduled to end soon. However, there is support to help your business get back to normal and avoid getting into debt.

Did you defer your VAT between 20th March and 30th June 2020? 

If you deferred your VAT payment for any returns between the 20th of March 2020 to 30th of June 2020 the payment deadline is the 31st of March 2021.This additional outgoing can be scary for businesses. However, HMRC will allow you to pay it back interest free over 12 months. To do this you MUST:

  • Register with HMRC between the 23rd of Feb and 21st of June 2021
  • Have access to your own Government gateway.

Unfortunately this is not something we can do for our client, however we can certainly help anyone through the process.

For more information please follow this link – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/deferral-of-vat-payments-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19

Bounce Back Loans (BBL) 

If your business needs cash, and you haven’t yet taken a bounce back loan, this is is your opportunity. The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. After 12 months the interest rate will be 2.5% a year. This scheme is open until the 31st of March.

If you have already taken a bounce back loan the government is now offering a new ‘pay as you grow’ scheme. They are offering flexible terms for up to 10 years to help you repay the bounce back loan.

Take a look at the details by following this link – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-eases-burden-on-more-than-a-million-businesses-through-pay-as-you-grow-flexible-repayment-options

There is also an option to pay back your bounce back loan by taking on a Coronavirus Business Interruption loan. This would then give you another 12 months before having to make a payment. However this should only be an option if your business can afford it!

Job Retention Scheme (JRS) 

The job retention scheme is scheduled to cease in April. Have you considered the effect this might have on your business?

Many businesses have been using the furlough scheme to stabilise their businesses, however with it coming to an end, some big decisions might need to be made.

A cash flow forecast will help your business gain clarity to see where you are at and where you are going.


Spinning top and planet

How to pivot your business so that you stay in business

As we keep plunging deeper into a global recession, it can be tempting to panic and dither with decisions, but that’s not going to help. In fact, it’s the businesses which move quickly that will survive and thrive during this time.

So how can you be one of those businesses? One that actually grows during a recession?

In short, you have to adapt (and make quick decisions!). Here is how to pivot your business to make sure you stay in business.

A 7-step guide to pivot your business

Get into the right mindset for decision-making

You won’t make good decisions for the future of your business if you are in a scared, stressed or anxious state. Take time out, prioritise self-care and deep thinking time, and you’ll make far more creative decisions for it.

Think about what you can change for the good

You may need to adapt your business to survive, so think about what you can change to become relevant. Can you change your product or service? Can you change your intended marketplace for your product or service? Can you change how you deliver your product or service?

Do your research

The answers are out there, so do your research. Ask and listen to your clients – what are they telling you they need? From your own experience, what is your business or friends and family wanting or needing to buy and why? How are habits and hobbies changing as people stay home more? What is social media telling you that people are doing or thinking about?

Conduct a STEEPLED analysis to look ahead

Try to think about what this ‘new normal’ will look like. Use the STEEPLED analysis and think about what each factor will mean for you and your business (e.g. follow each example with a ‘so what’ for your business):

S – Social – e.g. more people are staying/working at home.

T – Technology – e.g. more older generations are adopting technology to stay in touch.

E – Environment – e.g. people can see it recovering.

E – Ethics – e.g. can’t be seen to be profiteering.

P – Political – e.g. will this change Brexit, Tory government etc?

L – Legal and regulatory – e.g. how will rules, protocols change?

E – Economic – e.g. what happens with a recession?

D – Demographic – e.g. higher than the average death rate.

Evaluate your potential options

Once you have done your research about the current market and you’re in the right mindset to adapt your business, you now need to evaluate your options. For each option, think about:

  • How connected is it to your ‘why’ or ‘purpose?’
  • How easy is it to implement?
  • What will change or stay the same?
  • If you chose to move forward with this, what would you and your business have to do?

Conduct a risk analysis

Once you have chosen what option you are pursuing, conduct a risk analysis:

  • Consider some ‘what if’ scenarios – e.g. what if schools close again and people have to work and provide childcare?
  • Review your risks – e.g. operational, reputational, project delivery, political, environmental, financial etc.
  • Rank these risks – are they high, medium or low risk?
  • Review their impact – what would be the impact on the business if this risk happened?
  • Outline your red lines – which risks can you accept or avoid? Which risks need to be managed?

Put together your business plan

Last but not least, if you’re going to pivot your business towards success, you need to have a plan. So what is your “to-be?” What are your new goals and achievements? Once you have these, you need to outline:

  • How you will measure your progress.
  • How much investment you will need.
  • Who you will need to support you with this.
  • Who in your current circle of people is critical or now not needed.
  • Your first steps to making this happen.

Don’t wait any longer, act now.

You need to decide now, what you want to happen with your business. The longer you leave it to make a decision with what to do with your business, the more chance you won’t have a business going forward.

As we said previously, it’s the businesses who make good and quick decisions who will survive and even grow during the recession. Be one of those.

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How to prepare your virtual teams for the long haul

The pandemic may have forced hundreds of businesses to convert from co-located teams to 100% virtual teams in a matter of days, but that was just temporary, right? That’s what many of us thought. For a while there, it was just about getting through the next couple of weeks and then months, but now, another lockdown is here and it’s time to face reality. It looks like working as a virtual team is for the foreseeable future, and again, we are without a playbook for when things will return to normal.

So how do we do it? How do we accept the new reality and start preparing our virtual teams for the long haul?

Step 1: Identify the most critical team problems

At first many people were working remotely for the first time, and in a time of crisis. Most businesses focussed on “making do” until they could return to normal, but to prepare for the long haul, you need to review any issues you have and identify necessary changes.

What poses immediate, serious threats to team survival? Are the team’s objectives still relevant or at odds with reality? Is your team culture and cohesion as strong as it should be? Are team members struggling due to a lack of psychological safety?

Step 2: Address these issues

To ensure that your team members are working as productively as they do in the office and in line with the current reality, you need to immediately address the issues that you identify in step 1.

For example, if the biggest issue is that your team’s objectives or work are no longer relevant to the current reality, re-prioritise their work to something that matches the new overall goal of the business. If it’s cohesion that’s a problem, try mixing personal chat threads with business ones and run a quarterly non-work-related workshop where everyone can bond on a deeper level.

Step 3: Focus on long-term care

Step 3 is the most important step in preparing your virtual team for the long haul, as without it, issues will just arise again as people start to struggle. As we said previously, people are trying to work through this crisis so you need to focus on their long term care. You need to be thinking about how you can keep them healthy and avoid these relapses.

A few ways that you can switch on your long-term care mode is to:

  • Always give clear and concise goals and work briefs.
  • Help team members know their role within the team and how this relates to the overall business goal.
  • Foster psychological safety.
  • Hold regular one-on-ones with team members to make sure they are healthy and to prevent burning them out.
  • Communicate as much as possible and make sure that each individual knows what is expected of them.

Think ongoing attention and preventative care

To prepare your virtual teams for the long haul, you need to regularly check-in on the health of your team members. If you do this, then you can identify any issues or symptoms of a struggle early; both of which will help you to give them the attention and care that they need to prevent these from escalating into bigger issues down the line.

It really is that simple: identify issues, address these issues, and make a routine to provide the support needed to prevent these issues from arising again.

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Another Lockdown

Yesterday the Scottish and English governments announced national lockdowns with schools being closed. The net result being all of England and Scotland must stay at home except for a handful of permitted reasons. Wales has already been on a lockdown since mid December.

If you had been looking at the daily cases of COVID-19 it was becoming increasingly obvious that the current restrictions were just not working. This email sets out what you need to know from yesterday’s announcements. To read the English government announcement click here.

The Stay At Home Order

People cannot leave their homes apart from for essential medical needs, food shopping, exercise and work for those who cannot do so from home. If you do leave your home for a permitted reason, you should stay local. They are saying that exercise should only be once per day. Unlike March’s Stay At Home order this seems a little less restrictive as children’s parks can still remain open.

Help for businesses

Help has been announced today for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. This has only been announced today so please click here to find out more.  And the furlough and self-employed grant schemes are still running across Jan to April 2021.

What has to remain closed until February

  • All schools, colleges and university. Learning will move online. But schools will remain open for key workers and vulnerable children.
  • Outdoor sports venues such as tennis, golf and outdoor gyms
  • Non-essential retail – but can still operate a ‘click and collect’ service.
  • Amateur Team Sports
  • Entertainment venues
  • Restaurants, pubs and hotels – but can offer a takeaway service
  • Beauty and hair salons

What about nurseries?

  • In England these can stay open, but in Scotland and Skye they will close.

What is defined as essential retail? Here are a few of the main categories, but the full list can be found here

  • Food shops, supermarkets
  • Banks, building societies, post offices
  • Medical, dental and veterinary services
  • Agricultural supplies
  • Repair services
  • Fuel stations

Any other key changes?

  • Restaurants and pubs can still offer takeaway food but can no longer offer takeaway alcohol.

The government is pinning all its hopes on getting the first dose of the vaccine out to the top 4 priority categories by mid-February. With a view that when this has happened restrictions can be slowly lifted as the most vulnerable in our society will be protected.

What does this mean for you and your business?

  1. Find out whether these lockdown announcements mean you can trade for the next 6-7 weeks
  2. Review your resourcing requirements but also how many of your staff will now have childcare duties
  3. Rethink your business plan, cash flow plan and also revisit your contingency plans


Reopening your business safely: the ultimate checklist

We may not know when things will be going back to normal, even now that a Covid vaccine is on the horizon, but we can plan ahead for when the time comes to reopen our businesses.

This is called scenario planning – also known as ‘hoping for the best but planning for the worst’ – and it’s very valuable. Not only does it make you feel better in the short term, but it also allows you to act more effectively if that time does come in the future.

While reopening as normal may still be a few weeks or months away, there is a lot of logistics to think about due to the safety measures you will need to implement. To help you plan for this, here is a useful checklist so that you can reopen your business safely when the time comes.

6 areas you need to cover to reopen your business safely


Do we have a plan to reopen with ‘social distancing’ in place when our business is legally allowed to?

  • Do we have a supply of hand sanitiser available for all entrances and exits used by staff and customers?
  • Can these sanitisers be fixed in place to minimise theft?
  • Have we done a deep clean of our premises
  • Do we have a supply of face masks for staff? If possible, will they be branded?
  • Have we worked out how to minimise the risk to staff by introducing social distancing wherever possible? E.g. spacing out seating, staggering shift times or rotas, placing visual markers where queues form to help people socially distance?


Do we have a plan to re-engage with staff who have been furloughed?

  • Are they physically able to return to work? And on what basis?
  • What hours do we need them to work? And does this require formal HR assistance if there is a major impact on their working hours or contract?
  • What training will they need to be safe and competent in doing their job?
  • Will they need to be reskilled or reassigned? And how will this happen?


Have we forecasted the impact of social distancing on our business?

  • Reduced demand and capacity?
  • Cash flow? Turnover? Profit?
  • Resource requirements?
  • Parents of school-age children may still need to be at home with their children?


Have we identified ways to reduce the need for customers to physically be on our premises?

  • Telephone and/or internet orders?
  • Photos or videos of our products/services on our website?
  • Deliveries to customer homes?
  • Click and collect?


Have we done a risk assessment and implemented recommendations to minimise the risk to our staff?

  • How to reduce contact in our offices and premises?
  • Increased cleaning of all surfaces?
  • Education and training to staff on how they will play their part to keep everyone safe?


Have we identified ways to increase demand for our business’s services or products whilst still remaining ‘COVID-19’ secure?

  • New products or services which will be in demand?
  • Different ways of delivering the service or fulfilling the order or demand?
  • New channels to market? E.g. direct to consumers?

Plan your coronavirus-comeback

If you want to be ready for when the time comes (and it will) where you can reopen your business, you will need to have a plan to keep your employees and customers safe. If you have your plan and your safety measures in place for when that time comes, you can hit the ground running.

Imagine bouncing back stronger than ever when restrictions ease? Don’t waste any more time now giving into the Covid turmoil. Plan your comeback and reopen with confidence.


How can I support my team through the current global crisis?

As most working professionals spend a third of their time at work, it’s been a massive adjustment for the millions of people who have had to start working from home. With many other stressors and worries piled on top of this, it’s no surprise then that this has had a major impact on the health, happiness, and the wellbeing of those employees.

For a thriving business, you need thriving employees, but not many people are thriving during this time. Therefore, to keep businesses afloat during the current global crisis, it is the responsibility of the employers to support their employees and this includes their mental wellbeing. Here’s how to do just that.

The 3 Ps

1. Prioritise – the health of your team

You need to create the right conditions to help your employees feel empowered and supported during this stressful time. You can do this by:

  • Taking advice from the World Health Organization and region-specific public health authorities such as the CDC.
  • Measuring and tracking the stress of your team via surveys and then offering help to those who need it most.
  • Providing consistent and clear objectives to give your employees a sense of control and purpose.

2. Promote – positive habits

Anxiety and stress can lead to the formation of bad (and unhealthy) habits. To help your employees deal with this stress, encourage the formation of positive habits such as:

  • Making a weekly and daily plan of action.
  • Sticking to their daily routine as much as possible.
  • Self-care activities such as meditation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises.
  • Taking regular breaks to properly ‘switch off.’
  • Limiting their use/exposure to social media and the news.

3. Practice – compassion and empathy

Some of your employees may have lost loved ones or they may be suffering from anxiety or depression during this time. To support them as best you can, here is how to be a more compassionate and empathetic leader:

  • Check-in with your employees regularly and keep an eye on their energy levels.
  • Listen to how they are feeling and encourage sharing when your team communicates.
  • Pause and give yourself time to respond to certain situations rather than reacting to them.