What the coronavirus has taught me about life, work and togetherness

Posted in : HR Updates on 1 April 2020
Olga Pollock
firmus energy
Issues covered:

When I left the office on the 14th March to work at home for a week, I never dreamt that it would be the last time I would see my work colleagues for a very long time. Further to the recent strict ‘stay at home’ measures put in place by the UK government, I like many thousands of others, have suddenly found myself working from home for the foreseeable future. Not that I am complaining. I am acutely aware that I am very fortunate that a: my job allows me to work remotely and b: I do not have to risk my life by leaving my house to go to work every day like so many of our wonderful health and key workers.

The coronavirus is changing lives dramatically as we know it and with the ever-increasing daily death tolls, we know that the ‘peak’ is still ahead of us. It is like living a nightmare that just never seems to end.

On a lighter note, my shift to working from my dining room table hasn’t come without its challenges as I am suddenly trying to juggle home working with home schooling.  My multi-tasking skills have been pushed to the max these past couple of weeks, between helping with Key Stage 2 problem-solving and literacy questions to trying to convince my Form 1 son that he needs to focus on Google Classroom rather than beating his personal best of ninety three keepie uppies.

I now have an even greater admiration of all the teachers who devote their careers to motivating and nurturing our little darlings’ education without throttling them.  But then the guilt sets in. Am I doing my best for them? Am I devoting my full undivided attention to them? What is going to happen to their future because I have selfishly put my job before their needs? I feel like I am failing miserably as a parent rather than seizing this opportunity to spend quality time with my children like so many others on social media seem to be doing.  But then I read the posts that tell me I’m doing ok.  That I’m not meant to be teacher and at least they are getting the best possible version of me that I am realistically able to give. At least I am blessed to have my children at home, safe with me every day where I can watch them wash their hands for the hundredth time and laugh at them working out with Joe Wicks every morning. And for that, I am so very thankful.

Working from home has certainly stress tested our business continuity and remote access IT capabilities like never before. HR have been at the forefront of responding to the needs of the workforce and I have never seen so much help and knowledge sharing between my HR network family. There’s a real sense of support and looking out for one another. And never before has there been such a spotlight on employers to do right by their people; when we really start to see the organisations that value their employees as humans or as dispensable commodities.  

Are we putting people at the heart of our decision-making or is it business needs first?  I am not being dramatic when I say that our decision-making has an impact on life or death and the choices that we make today will either pay off in the longer term or prove to be an epic fail. We have a social and moral duty to do the right thing not only for our peoples’ welfare but for their families, loved ones and wider society.

Having just updated version nine of our staff Covid19 FAQs, I feel very lucky to work for an organisation that has done right by its people. The choices that have been made around pay, time off, self-isolation, caring for dependants and most importantly health and safety will ensure that no one is placed at risk or in financial hardship and with the positive feedback from staff to date, it is clear that our people recognise this.

And yet in the midst of the chaos; the emails, the Zoom calls, the teleconferences, the kids and family pets we are very aware of how we’re all pulling together as one team.  And within our communities, suddenly we find ourselves standing at our front doors clapping in unison for our NHS heroes alongside the neighbours that previously we may only have said a passing hello to.  Rainbows painted by kids are proudly displayed on front doors and living room windows and WhatsApp groups have been formed within neighbourhoods offering help for anyone that needs it. We’re Face Timing friends and family that we can no longer pop round to see, or meet up for coffee but yet in many ways, we feel closer than we ever have.

The old saying, ‘your health is your wealth’ holds so much meaning now. Without our health, we have nothing. Literally nothing. As the world has been put ‘on hold’ we need to take advantage of the space we now have for stillness and creativity. We need to enjoy this time, for the first time for many when mums and dads can spend time with their children; when couples can spend more time with each other and when we start to get to know each other again. None of us know how long this pandemic will last or what the economic and mortality impact will be. One thing we do know however, is that when all this is over, the world will be a very different place. #staysafe.

Useful Reading

Silver linings: how to stay positive during the coronavirus crisis


This article is correct at 01/04/2020

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Olga Pollock
firmus energy

The main content of this article was provided by Olga Pollock. Contact telephone number is +44 (0)79 7389 3448 or email oppollock@firmusenergy.co.uk

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