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Top tips to stay productive and motivated in business in 2021 


It was a year ago now that we all batted down the hatches and lockdown for the first time. For many of us, working from home was one of many new hurdles; full of technical difficulties and faux pas (i.e. The Boss that turned into a potato on Zoom), and the collective challenge of managing space, time and work-life balance effectively from home. Three lockdowns later and the discussion about working from home seems to be leading us towards a new kind of “return to work” rhetoric, with employees and management alike questioning what the “new normal we emerge to might look like. 


If you and your team are interested in doing business abnormal in 2021, here are our top tips to staying productive and motivated according to our Skills for Growth – SME Support’s Business Change Specialist Peter Craen. 



Embrace the change. We’ve all been through upheaval in the last year or so and if we’ve learned anything its that challenge creates opportunity. After learning to adjust to working from home, acquiring new technological knowledge and remote management skills, it would be a waste to bin that off entirely in the hope of “going back to normal” as we knew it before the pandemic. Instead, why not examine the positives of working from home and the new skills you gained while doing it, and try to incorporate that knowledge into your wider business strategy moving forward?  

Digital software skills like webinar presentation (Microsoft TeamsZoomGoogle Hangouts), project management (TrelloMonday.Com) and customer relationship management (HubSpotZohoMailchimpare all transferrable skills that help you offer flexibility and ease of access to your customers and employees, and promote a friendly and inclusive environment. Take the skills you learned to survive the pandemic and put them to renewed use in the future! 


Every business will have failed at something. Maybe you weren’t able to make remote working productive for your team, maybe you couldn’t think of an emergency business strategy to pull you out of the pandemic, and maybe you’re scared of what’s to come in the future – you are not alone. But rather than giving up, it’s important to accept that and to reflect on where you went wrong, what you could have done differently and what you can learn from that to help you come back stronger in the future.  

There is support available to businesses and individuals who need it in this time of crisis and in the spirit of wanting to #BuildBackBetter. Skills for Growth is one of those support services and you can always seek advice and guidance from your local authority or citizen’s advice bureau if you need to. You may also wish to look for a mentor, someone who has been through the ups and downs and managed to overcome those challenges to emerge thriving in business and in other ways – someone you can look up to who has had a similar experience to your own.  


Finally, whether you embraced change or resisted it, failed or succeeded, now is the time to be the change you want to see. Don’t fake it ‘til you make it, rather, this tip is about mindset and getting into the headspace for success, so you can see the dream and live the dream!  

If you want to see the adults take climate change seriously but you’re just a 16-year-old kid in Sweden, make a sign and skip school on Fridays ‘til they start to listen. Likewise, if you’re a business owner, an entrepreneur or you’re working on your career – set goals and start taking action for your future. Every action counts, no matter how big or small, so focus on setting attainable and realistic goals, milestones and actions to help you get to where you want to be, and start doing it now. 


Whether you’ve been working from home or just staying safe at home during lockdown 3.0, we are all coming to the turning point at which we begin to reopen, re-emerge and resurface from this challenging period of restriction. There is a moment now, waiting for you to seize it, a moment that could determine not only your immediate future, but the way your life and career might look beyond the pandemic. So, give yourself the best change to build back better and do business abnormal with our help. 


To talk to our Business Change and Innovation Specialist, click here to register your interest in our fully funded SME support programme, or email our team at 

Read more about Business Change with Skills for Growth – SME Support and download our flyer here. Or, if you’re ready to start talking to the team, call 0161 237 4444 and start your #SkillsRevolution now. 


The Growth Company is an award-winning, not-for-profit social enterprise with a mission to enable growth, create jobs and improve lives. We provide individuals and businesses with a wide range of services that improve employment, skills, investment and enterprise for the benefit of all, and have been working in the Greater Manchester city region for more than 30 years. 

This project receives funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.  

The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme.  

Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit 

About the author

Peter Craen

Peter Craen

With over 20 years of experience in the field of business and innovation, Skills for Growth - SME Support's Business Change Specialist Peter Craen is a much valued member of the team and has proven to be a creative and understanding support for SMEs in Greater Manchester.