What a week! Comic book fans might be forgiven for thinking we’ve woken up in Bizarro World. Life is not quite normal right now.
Anticipating a lockdown, I spent some time at the weekend moving a desk, comfortable office chair and armfuls of IT kit from my office to a corner of our bedroom at home.
When I’ve worked at home in the past, it typically involves sitting on the sofa with my laptop. For this protracted period of homeworking, a more robust setup is needed.
I slightly regret now putting on hold my earlier plans to build a cabin in the garden, opting instead to lease more office space from my landlord to accommodate a growing team.
In fact, the timing of this crisis is pretty lousy from a business perspective, as I guess it is for many, having recently borrowed to expand, and now facing the prospect of placing colleagues on ‘furlough’ for a month or longer.
Through all of the negatives associated with the Coronavirus crisis, it’s essential we look for the silver linings. There’s an awful lot of good to come from this.
My pace of life is much slower now. Instead of the daily grind of my (thankfully short) commute to the office, I’m able to transition from bed to desk (via kitchen) in mere minutes. The dress code here is even less formal than the casual look I opt for in the office.
I’m talking more frequently to my colleagues. Rather than the ongoing interruptions throughout the working day, it’s a purposeful daily check-in with each one, to talk through work and personal concerns, and staying in touch via a lively WhatsApp group chat too.
I’ve become more mindful in what I eat each day. Gone is the convenience of a quick trip to M&S, several times a day as the hunger impulse strikes. Instead, we’ve reverted to meal planning and eating as a family. It’s helping to regulate my snack intake too.
Space and time for thinking mean the chance to work on the business, instead of solely in the business.
Planning with an uncertain timetable make this challenging. We don’t yet know whether these social distancing measures will last for weeks or months; from a school closures perspective, it’s unlikely the kids will return until September at the earliest.
It’s better to plan for the worst-case scenario and be proven wrong than only have a plan that ensures survival for the minimum term.
Even when some semblance of normality returns, it’s fair to predict that things will never be quite the same again. In several conversations during the past week, I’ve heard of plans to live a simpler life in the future, with working from home likely to continue past the lockdown, along with less travel and reduced commercialism. It has taken a global pandemic to prompt the realisation that simpler is best and local is lovely.
Where I do see Financial Planners adapting immediately, and making longer-term plans for sustainable change, is through the use of video conferencing and screen sharing tools.
Gone is the desire (or right now the ability) to drive across the country to meet with clients or attend conferences. Instead, we’re able to nimbly step in and out of meetings on-demand, saving valuable driving time and cutting our carbon emissions too.
Whether this crisis lasts another fortnight or carries on for months longer, we will prevail. What changes in our lives, as a result, could well be more positive than we know.