It’s been more than a year since the UK’s first lockdown in March 2020, and it’s safe to say that the last year has been a monumental point in history for us all. With the pandemic, various challenges have impacted pretty much everybody and to different degrees. Many have suffered personal tragedy and loss, most have endured highly-stressful working conditions, and others have needed to adapt to the requirements of shielding. However, as with any challenging situation impacting the collective, out of difficulties often comes lessons learned, change and a chance for renewal.
As we emerge deeper into spring and out of lockdown and back into the office (phew!), now might feel a good time to take stock before we eagerly return to some form of normality in our working and personal lives. Deciding what we want to keep, and what we’d rather wave adios to, as we make up our own rules, as we move forward.
There have been many lessons learnt during the pandemic, here are just three of the universal themes, which perhaps resonate most with those who have been working through the pandemic. Which learnings will you be taking head of as we move into the coming months?
- Making the Most of Relationships and Connections
Regardless of whether you are an extrovert or introvert, having less in-person time with loved ones, friends, colleagues and clients, that lack of human contact has been strongly felt by many. It’s raised an important point perhaps some of us took for granted – just how valuable human connections are for us all.
For many, it’s been a lesson in valuing how we interact with and treat other people; kindness matters, as do small signals of support, an email or Zoom chat to see how your colleagues have been faring. We’ve also found a myriad of inventive ways to communicate during these restrictions, from Zoom cocktails and quizzes to creative team-building exercises in Breakout Rooms.
One thing we won’t be taking for granted is the simplicity of in-person engagement and just how simple it is to reassure, motivate, connect and inspire using some simple, well-meaning facial expressions, body language and genuine feedback. Just think how much more powerful a “thank you”, “you’re doing such a great job”, and a “we really appreciate your efforts” will be received face-to-face. Make it count.
- Carving Out Your Space, Your Way
Apart from those who are lucky enough to have plenty of space at home, for many, working from home may have felt a bit restricting, especially for those juggling home-schooling to boot. One thing is for sure, many soon realised that if the whole household is working from home (and home-schooling), space begins to feel a bit tight, and the novelty of working from home starts to wear off a little. It’s unsurprising that many individuals have made the move further out of major cities so that they have more space at home or are near a pretty location where they have the chance to be amongst nature.
As we move forward, what will you leave behind or take into this next phase? If you discovered that the idea of working from home isn’t really for you, maybe you’re just the type of person that needs an office vibe for inspiration and human interactions or perhaps you’d prefer a 50:50 approach, a mixture of the two. Either way, one lesson the pandemic has taught us is that our working conditions are very important, possibly more so than we realised, and that finding the best fit for us is the best way to get the most out of our working day, whatever that looks like.
- Keep Things Simple
With travel restrictions halting holidays and business trips and shop closures reducing what we’d usually spend on luxury items, on the whole, most have seen first-hand that we can survive with a reduced amount of “must-haves”. Have you discovered that you can actually live without certain things? Will you be changing your habits and behaviours as a result? And have you noticed that some of your money has been going on other things like making the garden or home a nicer place to be? Spending more on good food and making mealtimes more of an experience, and more often.
Whatever aspects of the “good life” have worked for you, which habits would you like to keep hold of and which ones would you ditch? Perhaps splurging in daily office lunches feels like an extravagance after months of homemade sandwiches and cooking. Or maybe cycling and walking have become your preferred mode, and you plan to make that habit stick for a bit longer. Either way, now is a good time for a fresh start, to revaluate what worked, what wasn’t, and what lessons you can bring into your working life to make it work even better for you.