It’s been a strange time.
We have all had to make changes, really fast, faster than most of us would normally choose. The need to change came from nowhere; one week we were all in the office, going about our lives looking at what was happening elsewhere in the world, and by the end of the next week the schools were closing and we were heading into lockdown.
Some fo the changes that we had to make were thrust on us; like the need to be parent, teacher and professional all in one day. Others we chose to make to help us cope, still more were probably changes that we were thinking of making (like working from home more) but had never gotten around to.
Some of the changes we’d probably never thought of.
And as we start to move back towards something that might pass for normal, what becomes very clear is that there are some changes that we’ve made that we would actually rather not change back. Here are a few of mine…
- Training at Home – Before all of this I would never have thought I could get away with training in the kind of home gym I can put in my garage. There’s no power out there, no room for a squat rack or a bench, it’s cold and drafty. But just before lockdown I picked up some parallel bars, some gymnastic rings, and a few other simple bits of kit, and now I’m the leanest, strongest and fittest that I have ever been.
There is no way I’m going back to paying £70 a month for a commercial gym.
- Meditation – I meditated for a long time before lockdown to be honest, but it was only during the week; I was always pretty patchy at weekends. Now I’m on an unbroken 70 day meditation streak, and the difference is profound. I’m not always a picture of zen detachment, but I’m conscious of situations that used to spin me up passing by without so much as a raised heartbeat, that’s got to be progress.
- Working From Home – This is one of the ones that I was planning to do more of anyway. Changes to parking at my office were going to mean that I needed to work remotely for at least two days a week from April, so now that programme has been heavily accelerated. But I can say that after 3 months of pure home working, I don’t know that I’ll be rushing to do an 80 minute round trip commute just to sit at a different desk for the day, especially if I can’t actually meet anyone face to face when I get there.
That said, I don’t think that I can work indefinitely from home either, the office has it’s place and it’s uses, even though those uses will change. It will continue to be a hub of interaction, I just expect the pendulum to swing so that home working is the default, and the office is an occasional visit.
- Using My Own Kit – Very early on in lockdown I became increasingly annoyed with my work laptop; despite being only just over a year old it was slow and buggy, it kept hanging every time I tried to send an email, it wasn’t running very latest version of anything and I had no control over it. So I stopped using it a logged into my work O365 account from my Mac and my iPad, and I haven’t looked back.
I’m so over using the laptop provided by my company that I’m fully committed to buying a 13” MacBook Pro to work from once I’m in a position to go and pick one up.
- Aggressively Scheduling Time for Myself and My Family – One of the things that has had to change in the lockdown is the amount of hours that I can work in a day. Between my wife and I we need to take care of our five year old girl, so we very quickly moved to working a half day while the other parented and swapping at lunchtime; which work just had to suck up.
Having worked in this way for nearly 3 months I can honestly say that I’m not sure what I would do with a full week, from the week after next I’ll get a couple of full days back, and that feels like an unbelievably luxurious amount of time to have to do what I like with, in a world where it’s more important to be productive than present, I’m not sure it makes sense to devote it all to working.
I’ve tried to avoid using the phrase “when this is all over”, because things are unlikely to be the same again. Offices probably won’t go back to being what they were, people who have become used to working from home and managing their time in this way probably won’t go back to just working every hour of every day.
We have all learned what we are capable of, that we are much better at working remotely and balancing our work and life than we ever thought possible; why would we go back?
They say necessity is the mother of invention, and that is true in this case, however I would humbly submit a wider remit and say that necessity is the mother of change.
Which of those changes remain, which we embed into our culture and into our lives is up to us; but we have been given an opportunity to make our worlds work better for each of us, let’s not squander it by blindly going back to the way things were.