I found it hard writing this. When I wrote my last post in May 2020 , we were in the middle of our first lockdown and I felt so positive. We had a ‘good’ lockdown, the weather was beautiful, the zoom bingo and quiz nights were a novelty. Then December arrived, we had just 18 days out of lockdown (2.0) and suddenly the festive period we had all been looking forward to enjoying, was no longer allowed. It was like a bad game of Monopoly and in the space of a week we went from tier two to tier four. We didn’t even get to pass go on the way! Straight back into lockdown.
It was hard. So many plans which had to be undone – but all for the right reasons. After taking a relative to a medical appointment, I walked down the Thames on New Year’s Eve and had an hour of reflection. We were in lockdown to keep everyone safe. Keeping our family, our colleagues and ourselves out of harm’s way. Not to mention the amazing NHS desperately trying to keep their services running. Despite knowing this, I still felt sad to see our city closed and deserted like a ghost town on what is usually the busiest night of the year.
Lower your expectations and lower them again is what I read somewhere. During the lockdown last spring, it felt like the world almost stopped. Businesses were quiet or closed. There was no traffic on the roads. Everyone adjusted to home working, home schooling, we were learning how to explore technology in different ways so businesses and personal life admin could continue.
Lockdown 3.0 is very different. Personally, I didn’t see it coming and there have been many tears. The evenings are dark, and the weather is cold. So many more people have been affected by this horrendous situation. The mental health of the country has taken an intolerable battering.
My husband and I shared the work and childcare balance last spring, however with most companies remaining fully operational this time around, home schooling our five and six-year-old boys has fallen to me. I know if I had asked, First Wealth would have used the furlough scheme to support me through this period. I feel lucky that I work for a company which thinks differently about their employees. Despite that, I didn’t want to be furloughed – I have worked in this role for 15 years, it’s part of who I am and although I am feeling completely overwhelmed with the task of having to juggle a hectic family life and work commitments, we made the collective decision that I would carry on working.
So, expectations were lowered and lowered again. I agreed with my team at First Wealth that I would work my part time hours flexibly; early in the mornings before the children are up and, in the evenings, when my husband is home. Both children and adults thrive on routine. Working these hours means I have maximum productivity both within my working role and can focus on the boy’s home learning during the daytime.
We used technology to our advantage, BBC Bitesize has expanded hugely for the benefit of children learning from home. This is a welcome relief because I am not a gifted teacher! Technology all round has helped firms remain operational during the last year. In the early stages, Zoom calls were definitely trickier; can you hear me? is your microphone on? is your camera working? At First Wealth I think my colleagues and our clients alike have all become more confident with online meetings. They are productive, possibly even quicker due to more efficient time keeping, no travel time and efficient meeting follow up.
I walked past an office window this week which had 8 staff inside and I felt uneasy. I have been nervous throughout this; keen to avoid shops even for essentials. I am grateful First Wealth have continued to allow us all to work from home. We are trusted and encouraged to take regular breaks to be outside in daylight hours. We have full time and part time staff with flexible working hours for all. We can achieve fully paid sabbaticals and purchase additional holiday. We have an employee who started on a nine-week summer Internship before COVID-19 and is now employed with a full-time contract. We have grown as a team via online meetings, even taking our newest staff members through their initial training completely remotely.
This support has helped make the last few weeks feel less impossible. For that I am thankful, and I really hope some of 2021 will return to normal so we can start living our lives again.
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