A health scourge of unexpected magnitude has overwhelmed us all—one might well say, of unparalleled magnitude, at least in the eyes of people of our generation.
Like many of you, we saw the exhibition and events we had been preparing for postponed. We kept working, actually registering a few positive consequences: fewer traffic jams, fewer conflicts between family matters and job-related obligations. As a first step, we got ourselves hand sanitizers, introduced physical distancing and avoided meeting clients and suppliers! We would listen people making their comments in the media, and add our own as well, still unaware of how the crisis would evolve.
Then came the day when decision had to be taken. So we geared up to work from home: we made copies of all current files so we would be able to edit them as needed, set up a VPN on all devices to ensure security while allowing remote users to access the data—and drafted a sort of “to-do list” to establish who was going to do what.
As of today, we’ve been working from home for over a month. We exchanged views on this novel experience and resolved to share with you a few notes on how we have been coping sine March 11th. Let us begin our side of the story with the usual “once upon a time…”
Once upon a time there was a large open-plan office…
…where phones would always be ringing, everybody would speak loudly and couriers kept bursting in and out. We used to meet in the morning to share a few ideas, by noon they had already increased and in the evening none was left. The mid-morning ritual coffee break was an excellent chance to log off for a while and making small talk. In the office one could also have lunch, but many of us would rather try to beat the office-home-office speed record and lunch at home. The place was so roomy, one might even take the opportunity to exercise, but when the weather was good we preferred to take a walk along the nearby cycle lane.
All this has disappeared
Other people were already looking to the future, professionally as well as personally. So as work slows down they seize the opportunity to keep up with the latest developments and enhance their skills. What really bothers them in this “remote working” frenzy is that they physically need to take a break, have a change of scenery, see new sights and meet other people in order to recharge their batteries.
Others are actually nice and snug in this forced seclusion, and enjoy the chance to be more contemplative. As their working schedule becomes much more flexible, replacing the old 9-to-5 routine, they can work more and increase their productivity, so elated that they can’t even hear their own stomach and its “rumblings in the interior”!
A wide range of responses, indeed. Some people rediscovered their own house, their garden, their children and even domestic chores, interspersed with sending e-mails, drafting estimates and talking with clients.
The most amazing experience still is that of she who openly stated, “I went from feeling like the creature in the foreground of Munch’s The Scream, terrorized by this monster of a virus, to working at home with the doggedness of a warrior who keeps fighting to overcome his fear”. Indeed, every morning she sounds the reveille to mark the beginning of our working hours, raises the flag in her fortified bunker and proceeds to take care of the company’s logistics while acting as our strategist and leader as well.
As before? Or better?
All in all, we all agree that tasks haven’t changed—the way we face them has.
While we may be able to resort to remote working, we can’t help feeling worried and pensive about what has happened, what is still happening and what will happen in the future. One might sit down on the bank of the river waiting for the wave to pass, or use one’s ingenuity to reach the opposite bank and resume one’s journey. But will everything be “back to normal”? Maybe we shall be somewhat wiser, more thoughtful, more sincere, more determined.
Should that happen, it would be even better than before!