March 2, 2021

Getting accustomed to the unaccustomed

2020 and quite literally the rule book went out the window for many.

Flexible working has been in existence for a number of years, but the reality of our working lives means our contracts state the hours we work and that is simply what we do. Some companies have embraced employees working from home, some have shied away. 2020 companies were forced into the position of allowing/making/asking those who can do their jobs from home to do so. Some welcomed this, but not all. I recall an interview on Radio 4 of a shared household with up to six people, some on furlough, some working from home, all sharing the internet connection. Our living arrangement did not always cater to this transition in our working environment.

Let’s take the 9-5 job, this was me 2003 when I left university and went to work at MDL Marinas, it remained my daily routine when I took a job at Sobstad Sailmakers and then in 2009 when I took the leap of faith (or should that be hope, belief – aren’t they all the same thing) and I went self-employed 9-5 remained. Somehow breaking the habit and that working routine was not even on my radar and this perception of working 9-5 has stuck with me. That was until April 2020, when the rules seem to change, and that was ok.

Meetings remained in the diary but instead of getting in the car and driving to them, I now fire up the coffee machine and check the New Forest internet connection, it’s not known for its speed, and meet my clients online.

Then there is our mental health, exercise is a big part of my life, and since I can remember I have done Pilates in a neighbouring village early on a Friday morning, that would see me get to my desk for 930 instead of 9. Now I do Pilates 3 times a week at home and I am at my desk by 9 am. Thanks to fitness classes going online too.

Rather than getting up from my desk and talking to fellow employees on the way to the restroom or coffee machine, I now stand up and when guidelines allow I walk around the block and when they don’t I step out in the garden or even do the odd job around the house. You see what I am learning is that we are rapidly evolving, staring at a screen forcing words on the page doesn’t result in creativity, in fact, the lack of fresh air, heating on, lights on and a very static body, and you can find yourself simply staring at the screen. You cannot force creativity.

Last year I invested in two whiteboards: a monthly one and a weekly one. Who knew a whiteboard could be so powerful? You see our minds can only hold so much information. Deadlines come and go. Once a date has passed you can’t go back. If something new comes in, it goes on my whiteboard, as the day passes rather than waiting until the end of the month to start the next one, I am on a conveyor belt, at the end of 2nd March that day becomes the 2nd April. Look up and look forward.

Deadlines are met, client meetings happen, creativity is booming. I am here, I am engaged. Am I working 9 to 5? Sometimes yes, mostly no. My day may start at 8 am some days and finish at 9 pm others. Sometimes it’s over the weekend. This may not be sustainable but for now, it’s working. Living in the present, to me is what life is all about. As this storm passes, I know my routine will change, face-to-face meetings will be back on, sailing will be back on, meeting friends will be back on. Weekends at home will become weekends on the move. Since time began, we have evolved. We are all different. I take a well-known sports brand approach to life of ‘beat yesterday’ and I strive to a better version of myself and to do that, Box PR and I must evolve.

I am excited about what 2021 will bring, seeing clients again, shows opening again and maybe when the time is right, I will travel again. Until then, Box PR is based in Lyndhurst New Forest and is very much looking forward.

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