Friday 27th March 2020 marked the end of my second week as a remote worker, and the end of the UK’s first four days in COVID-19 lockdown. The remote work ends on Friday, but the lockdown continues — in terms of social interaction there is less at the weekend, as the regular video conferences and general hangouts of the working week stop. I spent this morning (Saturday) in the garden, but I tried not to do too much as I don’t know how long I’ll need to find something to do — it’s a marathon, not a sprint, so best not to do everything at once!
In the case of my department, remote working isn’t something that we were all looking to take up, instead we had it thrust upon us like everyone else in the world who is able to work this way and, more importantly, still has work to do. Personally I quite like working from home, agreeing with many of the articles I read about remote working that extoll the benefits of being less interruptible — someone can’t just look up and ask a question, instead they have to schedule a call or write their request out in one of the many collaboration tools we are lucky enough to have these days. Now that we are all remote, I’m taking the opposite approach and trying to have as many video meetings as I can. Previously, the odd day remote was about being left alone to get more done, now it’s about finding reasons for human interaction, even if it is only in two dimensions. Not everyone will enjoy working from home, especially if they live on their own and only have their own brain for company. We have social calls a couple of times a week, where we all join with a drink (hot, soft or alcoholic) and talk about anything other than work. Usually about the things we’ve done that day that we never expected to (queueing to get into the supermarket, for example). Seeing familiar faces and having a chat can do wonders for your well being!
Usually I’m not a big fan of routines — one of the reasons I went into consultancy was the variety. But in a lockdown situation, routines can really help. Without them it’s easy to lose track of the time of day, or which day of the week it is. I’m lucky in that I have an 19 week old Golden Retriever puppy that routinely wakes up at 5:30 wanting a walk. How can I resist this face?
The slight downside to this is we are only allowed to go out once a day to exercise, and I’m usually done by 7am!
Virtualise all the Things!
World Tours, London’s Calling and now TrailheaDX have pivoted to virtual events. This deserves a post of it’s own, but I do think it will be difficult to put this particular genie back into the bottle — it feels to me like the days of huge numbers of people flying all over the world to attend conferences in person may be behind us. It will still happen, predominantly from a sales perspective, but there will be less of them and I expect digital events to explode. I’m really interested to see what happens in this space and how events adapt to the challenges of the online-only world.
I’m not a great fan of being preachy in articles as a rule — people have free will and where I live they can do what they want, within reason, which is as it should be. That has all changed now and we are operating under a set of restrictions that none of us has experienced before. People are scared — of the virus, about their job, that they will run out of the basic necessities. In a lot of cases the fear is ill-founded, but that doesn’t make it any less real. We’re also going to get on each others nerves, especially those of us that are stuck in the same space for extended periods of time. This is likely to go on in some shape or form for quite a while, so take a deep breath and try to be kind in your interactions.
We’re all in this together, but some of us are in better places than others. I’m thankful that I live a short drive from elderly parents and in-laws, so can make food runs to save them putting themselves at risk. That I have a garden and can go out in the air when I want to. That everyone where I live is following the official advice. That this didn’t kick off in November, so wasn’t immediately followed by widespread flooding. While things are very bad, they could still be worse.
I’m disappointed that the rugby union season has been put on hold, but the upside is that classic matches from twenty years ago are being re-run, and it’s great to see some of the old legends again.
This too, shall pass.