You don’t have to be mad to work here……..
I never really appreciated quite how much of a “truism” that was until the Covid-19 lockdown.
Our home suddenly turned from a place of peace and rest, to a hive of work and business.
We have my wife upstairs in her office, Zoom meetings, conference calls, virtual interviews. All the usual day to day running a busy commercial division of a large European aerospace company.
My youngest son, who is in his 2nd year at Uni, is completing his “study abroad” term here in the UK. He is attending seminars and lectures virtually (and much to his annoyance) at Australian time. 2:00 am lectures, 5:00 am group seminars, working at the kitchen table.
Next to him his elder brother, a trainee commercial lawyer, is coping with a role that demands ludicrous hours at the best of times. In the current climate, we may as well just drape his duvet over him where he sits.
I’m lucky to be able to escape to my study, much to the delight of the rest of the family. They seem to think that I’m far too loud on the telephone.
But the logistics of power supplies and Wi-Fi bandwidth and printer access aside. It has been a pleasant, if unwelcome, change from the norm.
We are able to enjoy a breakfast together and a quick lunchtime walk to the village shop to get “another” pint of milk or loaf of bread. Spending an extra few months as a family when my wife and I had just started to accept our empty nester status, is one upside of these worrying times.
Many companies who have been reluctant to accept working from home as an alternative to the daily commute, now understand that it is feasible. Technology and infrastructure have got to the point where we can perform our roles from virtually anywhere. (Did you see what I did there?)
Commercial property owners are concerned that their tenants may not see the need for city-centre offices. They will realise how unproductive it is to ask someone to commute for 2 or 3 hours a day. Especially for something which it’s now been proved they can do easily from home.
Could the “new normal” that everyone is talking about, be a recognition that there are better ways of doing things? Instead of us just accepting the fact that “that’s how it was always done”.
Are we as productive at home? Hard to tell. I know we’re all spending more time at our “desks” than we were before lockdown. The temptation to leave the computer “on” and a “quick check” every time you walk past during the evening, makes it feel like you have to make a conscious effort to switch off. But I guess time (and the economy) will tell how productive the country has been over the last few months.
I do know many businesses have suffered and will continue to struggle during the coming months and years. But despite the difficulties many have endured, I hope we all feel that our enforced time spent together will be a positive influence on our communities and society in general.
Water cooler moments are now bonus family moments. Getting a kiss on the cheek when I deliver a cup of tea to my wife’s desk is not something I’d usually expect to happen at head office.
Let’s hope that isn’t the “new normal”