I can’t believe it’s taken a pandemic…

My last blog, just 3 weeks ago, on ways of working in relation to Video Conferencing during CoVid-19 seems like a lifetime ago.

Like many, day 1 was great, day 2 was great, day 3 was great: I was working because my technology worked. I was in touch with my team and customers, I wasn’t missing the early starts, the commuting or the days where I was lucky to grab food meetings. I was in my home office bubble, with my team and customers, life was pretty good.

Like many I daydreamed about what the Workplace would look like when we returned to ‘normal’. Will businesses remember the impact of our industry during these awful times? What would be the purpose of the Workplace? What would my purpose be in the industry? Would my colleagues all be in the Workplace when I returned…oh, s**t, would I even be there?! ‘It’ll blow over soon’ I told myself.

Fast forward to day 23. Our customers have extensive challenges and we’re busier than ever. I am working because my technology is working. As a team, well, we’re enjoying our morning huddles, our virtual coffees, our spotify list, our friday afternoon virtual beers and the various whatsapp chats full of memes. I’m enjoying the extra hour in bed each morning, the afternoon dog walks and simply being at home.

Oh but the ever increasing death toll is taking the shine of things somewhat and the anxiety starts again. Will businesses remember the impact of our industry during these awful times? What would be the purpose of the Workplace? What would my purpose be in the industry? Would my colleagues all be in the Workplace when I returned…oh, s**t, would I even be there?! ‘It’ll blow over soon’ I keep telling myself.

Many have claimed that the Workplace will never be the same again, many have asked me what it will look like and some have even sniggered, ‘If the workplace changes, is that you out of a job then?’.

My job is and has always been about the people. Ensuring they can achieve their potential, no matter how, when or where they work. Am I scared that the world has just woken up to the power of our industry or have realised people don’t need to be sat in offices everyday? – No, I’m not scared. I’m actually irritated. Irritated that it’s taken a flipping pandemic for some basic human things to happen:

  • People to be told it’s ok to have their kids running wild in the background.
  • For people to understand that as humans, we may have other priorities and they should be respected.
  • People to be given laptops so they can work wherever, whenever and however they can.
  • People turning their cameras on – C’mon, I don’t care if you’ve done your hair or if the bookshelf behind you is messy. Show me the whites of your eyes please, I need connection, I need to pick up on how you are really feeling, are you even listening?, Oh wow, a new low, you’ve just replied to an email TO ME, whilst sat on a call WITH ME.
  • Checking in on your friends. Thank you HouseParty, Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and thank you Royal Mail for delivering hand written letters (I love handwritten letters).
  • The NHS: Recognising keyworkers, clapping, simply not abusing the NHS because they ‘may be busy’, providing additional funding (and without it being on the side of a bus) and doctors being allowed to stay in the UK post Brexit (ok it’s just until they’ve saved our lives, but still).
  • To stay at home when you’re ill. Yes people, post pandemic, stop sneezing all over the office just as a matter of politeness.
  • For communities to pull together through acts of kindness.
  • TFL have been disinfecting the tube. Oh, lord, please ensure that continues.
  • Open spaces free for all.
  • People fighting to exercise once a day, taking their time, enjoying it, actually wishing they could be outside more.
  • Unoccupied / under utilised real estate being used for those in need.
  • ‘All rough sleepers in England to be housed’ they say.
  • Pollution has decreased and there are ducks on Venice canals.
  • We’re washing our hands. How lovely.
  • We’ve become grateful: toilet roll, handwash, chopped tomatoes, our loved ones, friends, our homes, our colleagues.
  • We’re asking our elderly if they are ok, we’re asking EVERYBODY if they are ok, and we actually mean it.

It apparently takes 2 months, well 66 days to be exact, to form a habit. I wonder which ones will stick? Which ones do you want to stick? What will you do to help them stick?

I don’t know what the future looks like but I feel positive. The good thing to come out of this is simply, we have realised just how vulnerable we are and therefore I am optimistic that we will come through this: stronger, with humility, connection, appreciation of the small things and lots of love.

As for the Workplace, I don’t have a crystal ball, but as much as I have enjoyed remote working, I can’t wait for the day I can return to an office, feel the culture and hug my colleagues and tell them I’ve missed them. For me, the office is not dead, it’s only just beginning and it’s upto us to define the future.

Be the change and stay safe,

SFJ.

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