What did we learn in 2020?

Written by Grey

Broadly speaking, the simple answer is: many things. We learnt many things in 2020. The meaning of the word furlough. How to make our own toilet roll. What happens to British Society when the pubs are shut. Looking a little closer to home – the online world in fact – we learnt many other valuable lessons along the weird rollercoaster that was this year.

2020 had us approaching how we do business differently. From remote working to how we offer help, we had the chance to mix it up a little bit. Now we’d like to share with you what we learnt.

What Shake and Speare learnt in 2020:


  1. The importance of a plan B
  2. The value of webinars
  3. How to successfully work from home
  4. Everyone needs a website
  5. Everyone loves a giveaway

The importance of a Plan B (and C… and D…)

It was near impossible to predict what would happen this year. Jumping in and out of lockdown, with new regulations coming and going with confusing frequency, meant planning for multiple outcomes became very important. No one plan for the business could be counted on to work – the ability to adapt became a core part of 2020. Leaving things to chance was not an option however. The businesses that have had the most success this year are the ones that have more than the one plan.

Plan B

The value of webinars

Here at Shake and Speare we believe that everyone should have the tools for succeeding online. At the beginning of 2020 (seems like a lifetime ago now!), we delivered seminars on ‘How to boost your business online as a tradesperson’ at Pro Builder Live. It was a roaring success and we loved sharing our top tips and tricks with you folks! Then Covid struck and suddenly attending bustling trade fairs became a thing of the past.

Fortunately, this hasn’t stopped us from sharing our knowledge far and wide. In partnership with Installer, we had the opportunity to bring our classes to an online audience. You can now find these on our website. We hope you learn something new and valuable!

And we weren’t the only people to spend lockdown excited about teaching people new skills! Looking at a Google trends graph, you can see searches for ‘how to’ and ‘do it yourself’ peaked in april – the demand was there and people stepped up to share their skills accordingly. Maybe you learnt to crochet, fix a dripping tap or brew your own beer?

How to successfully work from home 

This year saw a huge boom of people working from home. By the end of March, it was almost impossible to buy a desk chair from Amazon, and Google Searches for ‘home office’ reached their peak. As a nation, we bravely dived into the thrilling adventure that is: how to work from home and not get distracted. 

Successfully working from home involves remaining motivated, organized and undistracted. Here are some of our top tips for doing so:

  • Designate yourself a work space. If it’s possible, create yourself a workspace that is removed from the rest of the house. This helps to separate work and leisure, allowing you to create a sense of discipline. Theoretically, you should find it far easier to focus. Make sure you keep it clean and tidy – this means removing the several day old mugs.

  • Use the pomodoro technique. The pomodoro technique is the idea of setting your workday into 25 minutes chunks, separated by 5 minute breaks. Working like this – with frequent short breaks – promotes sustained concentration and staves off mental fatigue.

  • Invest in a decent pair of headphones. Did we mention staying undistracted? A good pair of headphones (noise isolating headphones, if you’ve got the funds!) help to block out the outside world, with all its noisy distractions and allow you to focus in on your task. If you desire to be down with the kids, listen to lofi hip hop radio – beats to relax/study to whilst you work.

  • Take ‘zoom coffee breaks’. One of the issues with working from home is that it can feel a little isolating not to be in your normal workplace. If you’re the kind of person that gets motivation from the chats you have whilst making a coffee in the office kitchen, consider taking zoom coffee breaks. Your method here: make yourself a coffee, sit down at your computer and dial up a random co-worker. Almost the same vibe.

  • Use the right app or notebook to stay organised. If you prefer a more analogue version of organization, find yourself the right planner. You might find Papier’s 16-week daily productivity planner, Intelligent Change’s Productivity Planner or Panda Planner’s Daily Planner 2021 highly beneficial. If digital organization is more your jam, the simplicity of Microsoft To Do makes it a useful resource. Evernote is also an amazing app for notetaking and list making. Having remained a staple in ‘best organization apps’ lists since 2014, it boasts a powerful array of features.

  • Turn off notifications. Time wasted when you get distracted by those little beeps and dings adds up. One minute you’re replying to a text from your aunt, next minute you’ve scrolled through your whole instagram feed. Pop your phone on silent and you’re golden.

Everyone needs a website

With the majority of us spending a fair portion of 2020 indoors, non-internet based ways of advertising business became fairly defunct. Businesses without a website found that they were being discovered by customers less frequently. In order to keep up with the competition, traders really needed an online presence. Never has our ‘everyone needs a website’ mantra been so pertinent.

Fortunately, we were in a position where we were able to offer to build free one page websites for people who needed them. And we had a blast doing it! Helping people start their online journey was a little piece of joy in a year that had turned truly topsy-turvy. 

For this reason – we’ve kept this offer available. If you’re in need of a website – or perhaps have an old site that’s not working for your business any more – we’re still here to help!  

Free website

Everyone loves a giveaway

At the beginning of November, we ran a winter giveaway. We put together a fabulous box of tools, cosy winter knits and as many chocolate bars as anyone could desire on a coffee break. We hoped we would reach tradespeople who hadn’t heard of us before, but could benefit from our services. 

Excitingly, people ended up loving it! We saw our reach on Twitter increase further than it had before, allowing us to connect with a whole new range of individuals. We learnt a simple, but important lesson: people love free stuff. If you’re looking to grow your account in the new year, consider a giveaway!

So there you have it:

what we learnt in 2020. To use an overworked phrase: it was one hell of a year. It might not be over yet, but we all deserve a huge pat on the back. We’re looking forward to taking on 2021 and seeing what we learn during it. What were your big takeaways from 2020? We’d love to know! Feel free to share with us on Twitter.

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