This story first appeared in the print edition of the City AM newspaper on March 19, 2020.
I’ll be honest – six months ago, I’d have jumped at the chance to work at home for a few days. It would be a welcome break to catch up on life. Oh, how this changes when the choice is suddenly removed.
On day one of a new way of working for so many, the mood feels a little downbeat. Everyone seems to be asking the same question – what on earth do we do now? The stiff upper lip and British “keep calm and carry on” mentality is great, but we need to acknowledge it’s going to be hard; it’s going to be a change and we’re all going to be tested.
It’s business as usual, except not. Every single organisation is thinking about how it will impact their business, and communicating this to their clients, customers and teams. That planned product launch, internal diversity initiative or social media schedule may seem a little meaningless in the current climate, but that does not mean we should stop, pack up and go home (forgetting we’re already there).
We need to take stock, think about what matters and pivot accordingly. We also need to look beyond this rather large spanner and think creatively to adjust our plans. Don’t worry if you don’t have every answer today – that will take work and thinking to get right. If anything, perhaps we will be busier now than ever.
We will all be able to claim back time usually spent on the commute to invest in ourselves. Yes, setting the alarm an hour later also sounds appealing, but if this is set to go on for a number of weeks, waking up at 8.55 and shifting from bed to the sofa before logging on isn’t going to work. This a shift away from our admittedly sometimes mundane routines – and that is a huge opportunity.
We still have the day job to do, but the extra hour or so a day can be used for ourselves. There is more time to exercise and that morning run you would ordinarily hit snooze for before running out of time to fit in (no pun intended). There is space in the day to learn something new – a new language, a new craft – that make your own gin kit might finally get opened, or perhaps most importantly to learn professionally and invest in our careers.
Spend more time doing what you love; home cooked meals instead of the daily quickest microwave option you can find, get outside – London’s gardens will have never looked better – read, write, there is so much to do.
No one knows when or how this will end, but if we aim to spend this time wisely, we’ll return to the office in a stronger place than when we left. Don’t waste it.
Kirsty Howe is an account manager in Cognito's London office