Homeworking During a Pandemic - One Year on


On 16th March 2020, in response to the Coronavirus crisis, we announced that whilst we would continue business as usual, we had introduced remote working. In truth, at that time we had no clear view on the timescale of things but even the most negative thinker would have been surprised to learn we would still be working from home one year later! A few weeks later on 9th April 2020 we commented on the initial phase of homeworking, on IT issues, distractions and missing proper contact with the rest of the team. One year on we can reflect on what has been a most extra-ordinary year.


So yes, one year on, I am still sat at my kitchen table working as finance director of a design agency. Sure there have been different phases, including a tentative return to the office last summer, but it feels like I have been doing this for some time now. As mentioned previously, food remains a distraction in my convenient/inconvenient location. Jam on toast was soon upgraded to toasties, toasties have now been replaced by croissants. The importance of food, like many other things, has certainly been highlighted. Amongst many strange memories in the working year just gone was our virtual Xmas party. Our virtual Christmas quiz was enjoyable but definitely not normal or the same as actually being with the team. Having worked at home successfully for the majority of the last year we are starting to consider how we operate in the future. As we once again try to manage a return to the office will office working return as the norm? Certainly the office will play a key part but flexibility around homeworking could well remain. Hopefully we can achieve a best of both worlds scenario. When not working, new positive domestic distractions have been sought to get through the winter period. My wife and I have now completed around ten jigsaws. A most unexpected development but something we have found enjoyable and relaxing. Very much recommended. Though I have also enjoyed the extensive live TV football coverage I must admit there have been times recently when it has been too much. Something I never thought I would say.


Through this strange business year we have been fortunate to keep operating at a solid level of activity, only slightly down on normal. We are grateful for the support we have received from the government as well as our loyal commercial, health and education customers. Despite this, the latest lockdown in January and February has caught us out somewhat. However, we received a great boost from working on dozens of virtual open events in autumn 2020 as schools had to adapt to a world without traditional open evening visitors. It was genuinely great to put together and deliver an offering that helped our customers in a time of crisis. There are many benefits of a professionally produced virtual open day product, beyond complying with social distancing. Firstly the event is not specifically time bound and can act as a great source of interest to prospective students and their families at any time so can be both re-used or re-launched. Whether this is part of a deliberate COVID related approach or a more modern blended marketing offering, only time will tell. Having it produced with professional video, photography, drone footage and 360 degree tours can only add to the quality of engagement with the audience and help the school offering stand out from the crowd. The schools we worked with found they generated significant interest and unexpectedly high numbers of online visitors. We have produced some great examples which illustrate these benefits. The whole process was a boost to us and our customers. Those still looking at virtual open evenings either in the near future to comply with current Coronavirus restrictions or as an ongoing marketing solution look no further, we are here to help.


The Alice Cooper rock anthem Schools Out Forever is synonymous with that feeling of finally leaving school or breaking up from school for the long summer break. An element of rebellion against education with students desperate to break those chains tying them to the classroom. No doubt at times some teachers have felt the same. However, in these COVID times the emphasis has changed and a year largely spent away from the classroom has resulted in an unpresented desire to get back to class. More importantly, now that schools are back, that this is a permanent not temporary situation, that schools are in forever. In a twist on the original lyrics kids actually do want their teachers, their pencils and their books right now. Having been back to school only a few days my own son is noticeably more upbeat. Like so many things, the benefits of our education system had been taken for granted by all. Schools are back, for now at least. Hopefully all things will continue heading in the right direction and the better version of normal expected last year is now finally coming. My own dangerously optimistic thoughts, perhaps impacted by springtime sunshine, include wonderful elements like returning to the office, a social life, parkruns, meals out, properly live sport (not on TV) and holidays. Wonderful things to get excited about and then genuinely appreciate. Take care everyone.