Emma shares her thoughts….
26 March 2020
Firstly, I just wanted to say acknowledge that everyone is going through some hardship in these most extraordinary of times. I know how lucky I am to be ‘locked down’ with my beautiful family and with relative safety and security. I don’t want any of what follows to in any way to trivialise the enormity of what we as a society are facing, but I also wanted to be really honest about my experiences.
Can I let you into a secret? I am quite enjoying aspects of lockdown. I am loving the time at home with my family. I quite like hibernating (I am a very conflicted person, very social but also I crave my own space). I have had loads of lovely time with my soon to be three year old son, he is a joy to be around. If he can be in the garden, pottering around with his frisbee and bubbles, he is the happiest person on the planet. I am also really enjoying eating at least two meals a day as a family, something we don’t usually get to do except on weekends. All the extra time with my family coupled with the amazing weather we are experiencing has, for me, made it feel a bit like a holiday so far (albeit a very strange one, with a bubbling undercurrent of uncertainty underpinning everything).
From a work perspective, I have been really heartened by the resilience, creativity and positivity of my colleagues.
My FBC colleagues have accepted the new normal and are just getting on with it. The reality is that a lot of our clients are unable to carry on with consultancy projects whilst they get to grips with what the pandemic means for them. We have some time on our hands and we are collaborating on some really interesting new projects, hoping to bring some material out for our clients that may help them to better weather this crisis and also preparing material for when we are able to move back into some semblance of normal working life. Where client work continues, more of this than usual is via video conference and as a collective, we are really pleased with how effective this can be (albeit never quite the same as being in a room with someone).
My Michelmores colleagues have quite frankly done a phenomenal job of being really proactive and rolling out home working for the majority of our 400+ workforce. Everyone has fully embraced homeworking and shown themselves to be adaptable, supportive, resilient and creative.
The impacts on me
There has been a massive change to how, when and where I work. Me and my husband Gareth are operating an am/pm model, where one of us gets up early, and works to lunchtime whilst the other looks after our son, Seth and then we swap. I imagine lots of other mums and dads are doing the same.
When my time is squeezed, I do experience a whole new level of focus. What I am experiencing now is a bit like the post maternity leave level of focus. “Get in, get the job done, get home”. That is sort of how it is right now, but instead its “get up, get the job done, get downstairs to look after Seth”.
One of the biggest adjustments is having no childcare support. None at all. No nursery, no doting grandparents, no friends around the corner, no aunties on speed dial. I am only now appreciating the enormity of the support that we usually have. It is phenomenal. Seth is very blessed to be surrounded by so many people that love him. But for now, he just has boring old mummy and daddy. Being (nearly) 3, he is adjusting remarkably well.
I am also having to adjust to sharing my workspace with Gareth. Not something I relish. He leaves hot cross bun crumbs on the desk and always leaves his mug and plate behind. He also leaves his clothes lying around and doesn’t seem to grasp that they would be visible on video calls! It feels like my space because I created it for my consultancy work. But we’re managing pretty well all things considered.
I am also having to adjust to the constant undercurrent of uncertainty. Like everyone, I’m mostly worried about my elderly grandparents and the vulnerable members of my family. They don’t live near me and so I am checking in regularly by phone and trying to assess whether they all have what they need (they don’t always).
What I see in people all around me is a general lack of acknowledgement of the impact on them. They do not consider themselves to be stressed and yet, their bodies are sending them different signals. This worries me. The reality is that all of us are in a higher state of alert than usual.
Despite the fact that I am quite time poor (certainly when it comes to time alone), I am making a real effort to make sure that I get on my yoga mat every day and do some yoga, conscious breathing and meditation (usually just 5-10 minutes of meditation, but it’s enough to make a difference). It’s what is seeing me through and allowing me to be really aware of what is going on for me, in my body, in my mind, through these worrying times. I really encourage you to make time for yourselves too, it makes all the difference.
The impacts on our clients
The reality is that a lot of our consultancy clients (albeit not all) are having to put their consultancy projects on ice while they deal with the immediate impacts of Covid-19. Some of our clients are facing a very stark reality indeed. It is a crisis scenario, often involving mass redundancy and facing the very real prospect that their businesses may not survive this.
My clients are on my mind throughout every day. I am wondering how they are coping. In lots of ways I am feeling quite helpless.
We are planning to share some thoughts on where we have helped clients to manage crises in the past and what lessons can be learned from those scenarios and applied to this one. Watch this space for those pieces to be released over the coming days and weeks.
My heart and my thoughts go out to all of those that are suffering at this time. As a society, we can and must find ways to pull together and offer whatever we can to help each other. At FBC we are offering our time. If you need to speak to us, you can, just pick up the phone.
Stay safe and well, look after your loved ones (I know that you will).