The Challenges of 2020…
Picture this… it is December 2019 and an employee comes and asks you if the management team would consider whether they can work from home or work flexibly. There is much discussion around how this could happen, how do we know that the work will be completed correctly, what about client contact during those times, accountability etc etc etc.
So now picture March 2020; Our Prime Minister makes an announcement that a virus is in our country and is out of control and that we all need to take special measures. Everyone that can work from home should work from home and in an instant the office is virtually a ghost town. The lights of the IT equipment are the main thing that glows in the dark as the team work remotely, without a second thought about the things 4 months earlier we would, and were worrying about.
So working from home means what? The ability to do work when we like, and it be a relaxing and enjoyable situation? Or does it mean perching on hard chairs so we can use the dressing table or dining room table for an office base and working around other commitments that as an individual we may have. These include juggling childcare as the children are now to be home schooled. This will mean that work is often completed in snatches, at night or very early mornings or in shifts.
And childcare itself? For ADG alone babies have been born during 2020; 18 month olds, 3 year olds; children just starting Primary school; children just starting secondary school; children who missed GCSE exams in 2020 and may even miss exams again this year; children starting at university and then heading home a few months in… we cover it all and more in between!
Home schooling; trying to get your head around the work that has been set for the children and then coordinating the various age groups that you have in your particular household. “In my day” comments as the Maths/Science/English baffles you and in the end you think you know less than perhaps you actually do. The juggling of technology so that “it’s not fair they have had the laptop longer than me” comments aren’t heard. The constant demands of children who justifiably want your attention; the snacks, drinks and games that they want and need and at the same time in your head you are juggling your clients needs and your workload. And for some there is the other parent who will be doing exactly the same as you but in a different shift pattern so that between you the whole day/week is covered and all work commitments for both of you are covered
And if you don’t have children you may have parents, family members or neighbours who need assistance and help. Parents and family who live away from us that you still need to support however remote you are from them. Parents who are poorly and maybe in hospital or in care homes and the feeling of not being in control. Parents who you need to shop for; cook for and run errands for.
In normal times not all of the above is necessary but in 2020 it is – juggling it around your workload and tasks, spinning plates and trying not to drop any. And then perhaps the loneliness of those that don’t have family and maybe are living on their own. Those that have partners that live and work away from home. If you are in one of the other groups you may think that that this would be luxury but the reality is often far from it. Having no one to offload and share with or no one to make you that cup of tea or pour that glass of wine and the frustration that a lot of your teammates/clients/consultants may not be available when you want them to be as they are in the juggling stage.
And this is just our team; we can say that the majority of our clients and consultants will have roles pretty much as above.
When reading this I have to wonder how on earth we have managed to get any work completed at all during 2020, and yet we have and amazingly well and that I believe is down to our wonderful team and to their resilience, ability to multi task and keep those plates spinning all at the same time.
Thanks must go to everyone; the children who have had mummy and daddy home and yet are not able to interrupt them as they are working; the partners who are sharing the technology in the house and needing to reorganise their work around our business commitments; the IT department who seamlessly made everything work as if we were working at our normal desks in the office; the technology apps that allowed us to keep in touch whether we are zooming or teaming; the broadband suppliers who got the necessary broadband signals into our homes.
So, back to that date in December 2019, if we had said that the whole office would work remotely from home effectively and without many hitches for 9+ months would we have believed that that would or could happen or would we have thought it was a dream/nightmare?!
So now onto 2021 and the promise of a vaccination for something that a year ago had not yet arrived in the UK. The promise that once vaccinated life can start to return to normal.
But what is normal and will life ever be the same again? Will we all return to the “normal” working hours of 9-5.30 Monday to Friday, I doubt it, we have experienced freedom from routine and most of us like that, not all the time admittedly as we miss the interaction of the team around us, the chats about what has happened on the football field with our local team; who won Masterchef; what did people think about such and such on Strictly/Celebrity etc etc, the sharing of cakes and biscuits for birthdays or just because it’s a Friday!
But we are craving the normal things, the things that up to March 2020 we took for granted. Interaction between people, emotionally and physically, managing once more to give those loved ones that don’t live with you that massive hug that you are craving to give/get. Quality time doing the little things because as we all know the little things add up to the Big things in life.
And for now we keep juggling; keep on going and as Andrew Llloyd Webber says in his song from Starlight Express “at the end of tunnel there is a light”, and may our lights shine big and bright, fuelled by our experiences of the past 9 months and know that although life may never be the same again… we are the same but now enriched with memories, and personal growth that we would never have thought was possible and the ability to juggle and spin plates!