Its all too depressing isn’t it? Facing the prospect of another few weeks with freedom of movement curtailed and economic recovery stifled for longer.
During last lockdown from March, like many others I was able to work from home. Cocooned in my basement office and feeling safe from the threat of COVID-19. Some of it felt like a guilty retreat, a holiday from the routines we had all become used to. A change is as good as a rest, grandmother would say. And it did feel like a good excuse to slow down, stay in, and spend time doing other things instead. Things that I hadn’t got around to, or never devote time for. There was a list, I must admit, and a daily log. In the absence of structure, I created one.
The trouble is this picture is a little too rosy. The reality was we were afraid. Fearful for our health and safety and we didn’t know what was to come. Attention was very much on keeping our businesses going against all odds. What was happening was extraordinary and unparalleled. There was a loneliness at home cut off from the social world, and an eery and unnerving quiet on the streets.
I would pop to the office occasionally to check the post and the building. Visits became more frequent and longer in duration. A balance between homeworking and office working was found. Then it seemed I was always in the office, and slowly and surely being joined by colleagues returning from furlough. Like in a thaw from winter to spring there were green shoots and reasons to be cautiously optimistic. It was summer. We did everything we needed to at work. There were difficult decisions, successes, team spirit and positive change.
Nine months on and so many of us are tired, under pressure, stressed even. We know what to expect, mostly. We more fully understand the risks and the challenges at play for home life and work life. Uncertainty, we have learned, is a key pressure. Certainty though is another matter altogether.
The temptation for me now is to forget this ‘working from home’ malarkey. Instead to devote this lockdown to retreat under the duvet – until it is all over, for some ‘working from bed’. Not to stop work completely. Trouble is, there’s no such luxury. Life and business must carry on. And we have a moral duty to help staff and colleagues, to support children and families, and to dig deep into our resolve, not bury ourselves in soft bedding. Just allow me the fantasy of thinking an escape is possible, just for a little while anyway. Until I realise that it solves nothing and doesn’t meet my preferred working style.