Around 18 months ago, the idea of working from home full-time was not an option for many people. However, last year it became our reality. Suddenly we had to adjust to new ways of working. We had to make space at home to work in the same way or as close to how we would in the office.
The world didn’t stop, we showed that it could in fact be done. But it happened because we were forced to rather than companies allowing it or wanting it to happen.
And now, as we get closer to getting ‘back to normal’, a lot of companies want the traditional ways of the 9-5 to return. However, many employees have adjusted to the new way of life and don’t want to go back.
They now save time and money spent on their journeys into work, are less likely to buy lunch, have more flexibility over how they spend their day and more.
For others, working from home may have brought less routine, more distractions, less productivity and a loss of culture/community.
I don’t think it’s a case of picking working from home or from the office but instead acknowledging that both options can work well and then finding a new way.
We don’t need to just go back to the way things were but we don’t need to totally abandon the office.
Lockdown allowed us to fantasise about the possibilities of life.
The way that things were was no longer seen as the way that things had to be.
The longer we were inside the more we began to speak of the new normal. We were able to imagine changes on scales small and large. I think this gave a lot of people hope, that this pandemic would not be for nothing if once it was over there would be change for the better.
But, somewhere along the way, there was a shift. Instead of speaking of the new way of life we had once hoped for, we began to long over the old ways.
Suddenly, it was the old normal that we were dreaming of, not something new.
I think the idea of going back to normal will cause a divide.
On one hand you have the ones that are craving the way things were. They spend their days longing for what used to be.
On the other hand you have the ones that have adjusted and adapted to this new way of life. Perhaps they found it challenging in the beginning but overtime they’ve found a way to make things work for them.
Then lastly, there are those that lie somewhere in between. Those that are able to see the pros and cons of both sides. Those that are interested in flexibility because they now that it’s not a case of things going back to normal but instead carving out a new world based on all that the past year has taught us.
There are many things in life that are hard to imagine however, it’s worth remembering that this has no impact on the possibility of these things becoming a reality.
This time two years ago you had no idea of what 2020 would bring and almost a year since the first lockdown we’re still in the midst of it.
Of course the pandemic isn’t a particularly pleasant or positive thing that we want to think about when it comes to the things we imagine coming to life but you can apply the concept to other things.
Right now it might feel like a goal, dream or plan that you have is totally impossible. However, if you decide to be brave and choose to pursue it, six months, a year or maybe even two years from now you could completely bring that to life. All of a sudden months have gone by and you’ll find yourself living a life doing something you love but were once afraid to pursue incase it didn’t work out.
As much as it’s a cliche, you really never know unless you actually try because as much as something might seem impossible it doesn’t really determine it’s possibility.
Most things that we want to do in life are often things that have already been done (even if it was in a slightly different way) and that should be enough proof or evidence that you need.
If it’s been done, it can be done again and what’s to say that it can’t be you that does it .
Last year there were lots of discussions, tweets and conversations about how we’re in a pandemic, you don’t need to do xyz it’s totally okay if all you did was survive.
The thing is, of course you don’t need to do anything new or different with your time. That statement has always been true. But if you want to and if you feel like you can, why not choose to do something new?
And even if you don’t feel like it, even if you’re anxious and overwhelmed maybe trying 10 minutes of aerobics or a breath work exercise might actually help.
I think learning or doing something new during a period where you have more free time than usual is a great idea.
The reason for this is whether you sit around passively watching YouTube all day or try out a couple of new recipes every week, the same amount of time has still gone by.
You don’t need to force yourself to do things you don’t want to do, pick something that you will enjoy.
And you don’t need to use up all your free time, it could be 20 minutes of meditation each day or a few hours a week doing an online course.
You don’t need to post about it online and it doesn’t make you better than others because you’ve now started a successful business or have perfected the crème brûlée.
The focus should be on how you feel about the way that you’re choosing to live and the way that you’re spending your time.
What will be left when it’s all over.
A few months ago I ventured out of my house and out of my local area. Everything felt normal until I found myself veering to the edge of the pavement as I saw 2 old ladies sat on a bench in front of me. On another occasion, as I waited for the bus I put on my mask in preparation.
Right now the pandemic isn’t over but ‘normal life’ has started up again (even if there are still 101 restrictions in place). Most of us are leaving our houses much more than we were 7 months ago.
But once the pandemic is declared over, social distancing and wearing masks will stay with us even without the rules in place, even if just for a little while.
When what you can do becomes limited you start finding pleasure in the smaller things. It’s not necessarily that these things meant nothing to you before but when you get caught up in the flurry of life it can be easy to over look the little things.
However, sometimes the case is that you’re so focused on spending time doing something considered big that you don’t even make time for things like a stroll at sunset.
But right now, when we aren’t able to do the big things, the little things will have to do. The thing is though, when all you can do is the little things, you’re likely to find that they’re actually pretty great.
The little things are overlooked because they’re simple and easy to do and so we tell ourselves that we need more. But we don’t, at least not as much as we think we so.
One of the best lessons to have learnt this year is how to make the best of challenging circumstances.
I’d be highly surprised to find that there is anyone who reads this blog that has not been affected by the pandemic.
People have lost their jobs, had family and friends pass, experienced financial difficulties, had holidays postponed, struggled to cope because they’re living alone, missed moments with the people they care about, had plans cancelled and so much more.
It’s easy to end up feeling as though life can be nothing more than bleak but it’s important to remember the joys of life.
No matter what is going on if you only focus on the ‘bad bits’ it will consume your whole outlook until you can’t see past it.
Of course you can’t ignore what is going on in the world but you can make time for things that bring you joy and make you feel good.
After reading an article about the effects of the pandemic in Nepal, I got thinking about how we are significantly more connected than we were 100 years ago and even 20 years ago.
We’re aware of what is happening in our own city, country and continent but also around the rest of the world too. We’re finding out things that maybe 50 years ago, we’d never have known about.
There are so many benefits to this increased connection.
Being more connected has changed the way we experience life. Physically travelling has become more and more accessible but we’re also more connected by technology (emails, internet and social media etc.). It’s this that allows you to know about what’s going on in Nepal even though it’s over 4000 miles away from where you live.
For a large group of people they’ve spent most at least 4 months of the year working from home. They’ve had to adjust and adapt to a new environment whilst still maintaining the same work output that would be delivered in the office.
Despite the difficulties I think everyone gains something working from home. For some people those gains actually outweigh the losses.
The main thing is that you have more control over how you spend your time.
It could be starting early and finishing early or starting and finishing late.
Spending your morning working on personal projects.
Organising your work time to give you a few hours of leisure in the late morning to early afternoon.
Perhaps it’s being able to dress however you want and cook meals instead of just buying something or heating something up in the microwave.
Maybe, you’ve gained more time to spend with the people you love because you no longer have to commute.
As much as it might be difficult, challenging and inconvenient to work from home, it’s worth acknowledging the good bits.