The last year has been a shock to the system for businesses. In March 2020, we did not know how the year would play out, however many have adapted and coped, if not necessarily flourished. There have been fewer casualties than originally envisaged in the eye of the storm.

Those that have made it through, and are now making plans for the upturn, will likely find they have three things in common. Cash, connectivity, and communication. Few businesses would have survived the last 12 months without all three of these assets. A strong cash position gave businesses confidence, connectivity allowed us to continue to operate, and communication kept our teams, customers and wider networks motivated and moving.

Incoming comms, like the daily briefings, have kept us up to date with the unfolding situation, and the restrictions on the way we’ve needed to live, work and go about our business. Technology has allowed us to stay in touch with our networks, whether work or personal. Businesses too have very quickly changed the way in which they reach their stakeholders, whether customer, staff, media or partners. There has been a strong undercurrent of community spirit and kindness leading each and every campaign.

We’ve also witnessed a shift in the way business leaders are communicating; both internally with staff, and externally with a range of stakeholders. Pre-Covid, it was unlikely we would have seen these leaders seek, or even agree, to work alongside competitors, or talk openly – let alone publicly – about how they are feeling, or the challenges they are facing in business.

However, we have seen all of the above in abundance. Businesses and their leaders were brought together by member organisations and off-the-cuff collectives to share advice and support each other, which most did without thought. Leaders have been speaking on free webinars alongside their biggest competitors, collaborating in order to share their expertise with others to help them navigate the uncertainty we have all been facing.

This level of collaboration has been hugely beneficial, and the willingness to be honest and show vulnerability has worked in favour for many businesses, as the common thread of humanity has united everyone in the last year. The more you show your personality in your message, the more people want to do business.

And this shift in dialogue has not been purely external, it has been adopted inside our organisations as well. There is a much bigger focus on empathy and support within the workforce. Managers are having more wellbeing-focused conversations with team members, and have been actively seeking ways in which the business can support each individual as they adapt to an ever-changing landscape.

Many leaders have also been more transparent with their staff about the health of the business, and subsequent short and medium-term plans. This openness has allowed employees to understand the business as a whole, and become more invested in the success of the company, as opposed to just their role within it. Put simply, we all care more, and this rich seam of communications is good for business too.

As restrictions start to lift, and we begin a return to normality, we will see the wider effect of the pandemic. It would be a real shame to have spent the last year developing messages of kindness and openness, to pull the shutters down when ‘normal’ business resumes.

Communicating positively and openly, being invested in employee wellbeing, and supporting those who need help has made us a kinder society, and it’s been good for business. Let’s not lose that.

Lesley Brydon is managing director of Clark and member of the IoD Scotland advisory board