I’m sat in my office at home having just begun week six of lockdown and I’m wondering what our working world might look like a few weeks from now – when this will have been published.
Will we be on the road back to ‘normal’? Or will this awful pandemic have changed the way we work for the long haul?
Within just a few days when lockdown was first announced, seemingly for a short period of time it felt like the whole country almost ground to a complete halt. We had no experience to draw on and no rules to follow. I think we were all just having to make things up as we went along.
This was reflected most significantly in how we were all working. Many businesses quickly realised they weren’t able to just carry on. Organisations were forced to find new ways of keeping operational which meant people working (or trying to work) from home. Meetings, training and even auditing transitioned to online delivery. And whilst some industries were geared up with the tools and techniques for remote working, for many in our profession it’s probably a fairly new concept.
Last year I was asked to deliver a series of FORS webinars. Whilst I was resistant at first – preferring face-to-face interaction – I soon got used to the technology and realised there are pros and cons of presenting either face-to-face or remotely. This has definitely helped me over the last few weeks as FORS proactively began to offer flexible training solutions. Good remote training software offers some clever interactions and I have to thank Mind Gym Coach Caroline Evanson for her insightful top tips.
During lockdown I have delivered FORS training online, which is first for me. In one session I was joined, remotely, by delegates from Scotland to Kent and many places in between. Under normal circumstances that wouldn’t be physically possible, or at least very difficult. How much time did that free up for all of us? By not having to travel to a venue it will have also negated cost, congestion and pollution.
As workers discover new productivity and employers realise potential savings, I wonder how many industries will encourage remote ways of working going forwards? Of course, for some this simply isn’t possible, but it’s worth noting how quickly the working dynamic has changed in a very small time-frame and how the tools and techniques have been adapted to help us continue working.
I think we have proved the importance of technology, and that remote working is possible; but in contrast the lockdown experience has also shown us how reliant we are on the work of ordinary people to keep our businesses, homes and ultimately the country running.
At this point in time it’s hard to know what future ways of working might look like, what lessons will be learned or what legacies we will hold on to. Maybe I’ll be reading this in print whilst travelling on a train to a meeting or to deliver a workshop session, but that feels a long way off right now. Maybe we’ll have all changed to a new ‘normal’ and changed how we work forever.