As we enter July, the seventh month of the longest year recorded, you might be gearing up for a night in a pub and or restaurant on Saturday night. Dusting down your glad rags, finding the ironing board underneath packets of pasta you haven’t yet opened, trying to remember where on earth you left your wallet – it’s Saturday night after all and Saturday night’s all right for socialising.
The type of night we used to take for granted, the night that we have dreamed about for months, the exodus from Netflix and zoom… it’s a night I don’t feel ready for. Independence? Out-dependence is more up my street currently.
Over the last 101 days, like many of us, I’ve been somewhat up and down with my moods and productivity, both in and out of work – the 7 ages of Mo.
1. Initially I was excited. Lockdown was new, working from home was for me, new.
2. Then I was productive. Ok – this is the situation, here’s what is going to happen and how. Let’s be clear with our communication, let’s anticipate mental challenges we will all face and counter them to the best of our ability. Let’s focus on survival, integration, looking after all our staff, open communication, empathy and above all – trust. I was too productive almost –hours were too long, I wasn’t switching off.
3. Then I was frustrated. What is going on? Why? When will it stop? This all feels terribly unfair. And I’m one of the lucky ones – I’m working, I have my health, my family is healthy, we have a garden.
4. Then I was (comparatively) unproductive… many of the challenging conversations have happened, am I using my time as effectively as I should? Am I going through too many motions?
5. Next I was anxious. What will things look like? Things are starting to return to normal – but what is normal? What are we not doing that we should? What are others doing better than we are? What are we leading the way with? We have shown strong survival instinct, are we equipped to fight back and attack as we need to?
6. Then I was positive – from a work perspective certainly. June brought our first month in 3 where the number of contractors placed exceeded the number of those finishing assignments; permanent processes seemed to be progressing in a more productive way than they had in previous months; an easing of lockdown by the government has led to our own thoughts about what our offices are going to look like when we’re back.
7. And now I am wary. Whilst I am pleased that we have a fuller compliment of workers than we’ve had for several weeks, I know that the next few months won’t be easy. Some April initiatives of which we’re so proud have inevitably become tired, and have they all been sufficiently replaced with new ideas? A combination of time to think and #Blacklivesmatter has led to an internal rethink of behaviour, policies, practices and approaches – and a reaction – but with the education, training and diversification we’re implementing; is it enough? We have taken it further still and will use this as an opportunity to educate not just around equality, diversity and inclusion; but around all actions in the workplace.
I understand why governments around the world are working around the clock to try to breathe life into economies, to protect jobs and support mental health. I understand why holidays are now being planned and in so many ways I’m pleased. I think I just want to see into a crystal ball and know what life will be like in October, January next year, this time next year.
But until I’m ready, I’m going to rely on home haircuts, home cooking, beer from the fridge and zoom nights in. And I hope that July’s independence leads to people continuing to respect guidelines and using common sense and not to view the opening of shops, pubs and restaurants as a sign that we can now all of a sudden do what we want. I hope that I will end July feeling relieved that we’ve made the right decisions and are benefitting from the right decisions being made by others; that we’re behaving with total respect; and that lockdown is further eased and confidence increased because it’s the right thing to do for our health rather than for our economy.