The Faith PR office closed following the Government’s guidance to work from home where possible, and so our team has been working remotely to service our clients through these uncertain times.
It’s the little things you miss the most. Until recently, the concept of working from home for many of us conjured up drinking endless cups of tea, time out to pick up the kids and Skype calls in a onesie with the video camera switched off, Homes Under the Hammer playing softly in the background.
You might work from home when you were expecting an important delivery, or perhaps when one of the family was a bit green around the gills. Whatever the reason, there was an element of freedom; a day away from the office without the hassle of a commute or deciding which shoes to wear. Hell, you didn’t even have to get dressed at all if you didn’t want to.
But then came the outbreak of coronavirus, and on Boris’s instructions, we had to stay at home to protect the NHS. WFH became the new norm, the dining room table became the office and the kitchen the canteen.
Start of a new “office” routine
All over the UK, comfortable, ergonomically designed leather swivel chairs were abandoned in favour of low backed, wooden things with just a thin cushion between you and the next attack of numb bum.
IKEA saw wild-eyed office workers arriving in their droves to panic buy flat-pack desks – before it too had to close its doors.
At first it was a novelty. We put on our ‘business pyjamas’ for team catch-up calls; our pets rejoiced at the extra attention; sitting in traffic, fuming, stress levels slowly going through the roof became a distant memory. Pollution levels plummeted and the motorways were left for the logistics guys who needed them most. Even those of us with kids at home found things settled down after a day or two as they received their distance learning instructions from school.
And yet… as the old adage goes, sometimes it’s the little things that you miss the most. Making a round of tea, for example. While it’s all very well being able to lean backwards and flick the kettle on whenever the fancy takes you, there’s something comforting about making a nice big round of drinks.
Yes, it’s a pain when the kettle runs dry half-way up the final cup. And there’s usually someone who always says yes to a brew but has to be forced out of their chair with a crowbar when it’s their turn to get a round in. But the camaraderie, the grateful smiles and the ‘ooh yes please’ when you stick the kettle on for the team are lovely and it just isn’t the same when you’re just grabbing one for yourself.
Even the drive to and from work gives you some headspace when you can plan the day ahead or dissect and rationalise events before you arrive home and switch your brain off.
Then there’s the banter, the brainstorming, the bouncing ideas off one another. The cat’s perfectly charming but isn’t much good when you’re wondering whether your press release intro works.
Keeping some normality
Technology does go some way towards easing this. Our Faith PR WhatsApp group is constantly buzzing, whether we’re sharing ideas or just the latest hilarious memes. But that probably says more about the close-knit nature of our team than the tech itself.
Two weeks ago, if you’d said Zoom, I’d have assumed you were doing a half-hearted impression of a racing car. Now it’s another weapon in the fight against enforced isolation. We can see each other! We can chat! My son even had a guitar lesson via Zoom the other day and it worked beautifully.
Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts… the tech is certainly there when you need to talk shop. (Houseparty, however, is strictly reserved for friends and family.)
None of this seems terribly strange as we had an enforced practice run when the Faith PR office flooded during Storm Ciara and we worked remotely. Business genuinely did continue as normal, with the notable absence of a Monday morning latte from the coffee shop next door.
We know we can still do a sterling job for our wonderful clients whether we’re in the office or at the kitchen table.
So when this is over and we’re all back in the office, we’ll bust out the office wardrobe again, have the mother of all catch-ups – oh and in case you’d forgotten, mine’s a milky coffee, no sugar thanks.