There’s no I in team

For me, the pandemic has emphasised the importance of those around me. What has it highlighted for you?

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Getty/Vladimir Kononok

If the pandemic has taught me anything it is that we are more capable of adapting and thriving in the unexpected circumstances that we may find ourselves in than we thought. It has also emphasised the importance of those around us in helping us to adapt and achieve.

Almost 15 months ago, I was a five-day-a-week-commuter with a thirst for office-working. Then the pandemic hit and working from home became the norm. In those first few weeks, everyone from the OT team through to IT colleagues were pivotal in making it possible to change and set up new processes that would enable us to effectively work as a team and continue to produce daily content for our website and the print edition. During this time, the team also changed its approach to better meet the needs of practitioners, with new sections in the journal introduced or revamped, and a new coronavirus-dedicated section created online.

While it can be easy to focus on the difficulties of the last year (understandably), positives can be identified too. Many optometrists I have spoken to lately have embraced remote consultations, for example, something that they believe would not have occurred had it not been for the pandemic. A handful of IP optometrists have also referenced how the pandemic has enabled them to fully utilise the suite of their skills. Plus, just yesterday I talked to a locum who spoke about the nervousness that the pandemic initially brought her when she found herself just months into living in a new city and suddenly with no work. However, today she is fully booked and has also secured two new roles that allow her to work from home, “which is something I never thought possible as an optometrist,” she told me.

For me, spending time away from my ‘desk’ and the day-to-day office environment, I have become acutely aware of the importance of those around me helping me to reach the end goal.

For more than five years now, OT has published a regular I could not live without article that involves an optometrist sharing, in 600 or so words, what they could not live without in practice and why. While some opt for their tool of choice, the occluder, the flipper or dual monitors, others have recognised the input of those around them. I could not live without… the optometry team at my university, wrote then optometry student Luke McRoy-Jones, while Suzanne Czerwinski referenced her contact lens team. Next month we will share insights from a practitioner discussing how they could not live without their dispensing opticians, something they came to realise during the pandemic as they were faced with all sorts of tricky repairs.

At OT, we understand how the practice team is integral to the successful running of a practice, and that’s why with our latest edition, which lands on Saturday (12 June), we have published a guide just for them. Our Practice Team Guide, produced in partnership with Johnson & Johnson Vision, explores the secrets of a successful triage process and dealing with complaints in practice, as well as the balance between selling and recommendation, and much more. It will also be available online over the coming weeks.

The AOP supports you to support your team through its new series of four free to attend practice team webinars, which cover topics including driving recruitment and retention in contact lenses, visual fields and OCT for the optical assistant, and how to overcome dilemmas faced by frontline practice staff. So why not encourage your staff to sign up today?

Finally, I’d be interested to know what you could not live with without in practice and why. Share your thoughts in the comments box below or with me via email.