I have often said that the Tube is everything that’s terrible about London rolled into one sprawling network. But I miss it. I miss the commute and I miss the throng of life that greets you like a nightclub bouncer – not exactly welcoming, but weirdly reassuring sometimes. It’s almost overwhelming to think about it being ever back to normal.
Abandoning the daily commute and working from home has forced employees to re-evaluate daily routines. For many, being contained within one building for the majority of each working day has actually broadened many peoples’ personal perspective on life, particularly in terms of what we consider to be necessities. For others, especially those with children, it’s been both challenging and rewarding.
Working from home, for me, was particularly daunting. As someone with a more unusual route into this industry in the first place, I enjoy face to face interaction, and the ability to bounce off those who have far more experience and know-how than I do. The virtualisation of business life means that those conversations, the off the cuff exchanges that might be the platform for some creative inspiration are no longer so common. I miss being able to just say hello to those who I don’t necessarily work with on a regular basis and speaking at length to the support staff who keep the office running smoothly. It’s part of the reason why jumping out of the virtual office to do local volunteering has become integral to my weekly schedule.
I do appreciate that I was lucky enough to be able to go back home just before lockdown was imposed. Being with my family has been great, but at the same time, I have seen my Dad go in for work every day, working night shifts, through the weeks and weekends on ITU. Whilst he would never want publicity around the selfless work he does, it is extremely humbling and a reminder that, despite me finding the new work set up difficult at times, the bigger picture is not just close to home, it’s part of home.
Working from home is likely to be the new normal. It represents a huge cultural shift, and whatever cynicism was reserved for those who regularly worked from home has been replaced by a need to be far more understanding of the lives that people lead outside the office environment. This includes childcare, exercise and the time to explore your own passions. My energy is being directed in a totally different way, and the early anxiety is now a directed towards efficiency and productivity in and out of the working day.
This blog might not resonate with everyone. Every employee will have their own challenges and difficult days, or even be revitalised by the change in set up. This far down the line it is just as surreal to think about how things used to work as it is to think about how they will.