By Beatrice Obigbesan, CFF Administrator
Following the spread of Covid-19 and its declaration as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), office workers have endured a series of lockdowns, restrictions and multiple changes in the way that their work is carried out. From my personal experience, many abrupt shifts and adaptations had to made in order to create an alternative form of office life. Arguably, a unique formula or method of work had to be sought to ensure a sustainable working culture that could withstand the uncertainties of the pandemic. From being completely office-based one year ago, here's an insight into my experience.
Working from Home
In my perspective, working from home has now become the new norm. Many business and charities have been forced to adopt a remote working approach. To some degree, several organisations have been able to benefit since their monthly outgoings have been reduced in areas such as building usage or other running costs. Additionally, for the employee, it may appear to be a great opportunity to save on transportation costs, eliminate travelling, maximise rest and increase productivity. I personally enjoyed the fact that more time before work was at my disposal when carrying out my daily morning routine.
Nevertheless, after several months of remote working, I realised that the lines of home and work can become blurred. Indeed, the pandemic has demonstrated that flexible working is possible since office tasks can be carried out from the comfort of your home. In contrast, if one is not disciplined to channel their energy in the right direction, they may be tempted to work more hours, spend less time outdoors and not bother with personal care or wellbeing. The pandemic has taught me that a healthy work-life balance is imperative and that you are ultimately the master of your time.
In the past, numerous professional meetings took place physically because that was the general expectation at the time. Currently, conferences, summits, workshops, training days and work meetings are mostly internet-based.
I remember a time when my colleagues at CFF described their experiences in running their first online wellbeing workshops for young people. Most of them struggled with picking up social cues through a screen. Some were challenged in involving the more introverted group participants whilst others found the modifications in overall service delivery difficult to manoeuver. Over time, I observed a positive change in their tone as they began to speak of the benefits of people being more available to attend the programmes ran by our charity organisation. In my opinion, this highlights the power of online platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
Even on the rare occasions where employees go into their office for an important reason, there is a strict requirement to maintain social distancing. Anytime I happened to meet any of my work colleagues in the office, I had to remind myself to stay 1-2 metres away from them. Initially, things felt quite mechanical and awkward. Eventually, we all adjusted to a reality where we did not feel the need to stand close to each other to have a conversation.
The Importance of Hygiene
The pandemic has revealed that organisations have more capacity than expected to maintain hygienic office buildings or working environments. Cleanliness in communal items such as light switches, door handles, printers and desks has become paramount.
From experience, I have found that the pandemic has brought a higher awareness in the subject of sanitation and consistent disinfecting. It is simply a matter of creating a culture where all items are kept as sanitary as possible with regular monitoring.
In my view, the above changes have brought many challenges in our interactions with other people and the outside world. On the other hand, the pandemic has birthed a very positive shift that has ushered us all into an era where most human activities have been digitalised.