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six weeks in, steve davidson shares his experiences on working from home during lockdown.

I initially felt nervous at the prospect of being ‘locked down’ and forced to work from home. I am generally a person who thrives in social situations and have become accustomed to a lifestyle where my working day is split between the office, site and meetings and my evenings filled with a mix of social events, be it with my friends, my partner or at networking events.

I have spent the first 6 weeks of lockdown in my cosy two bed apartment with my partner, Jules. Despite my initial concerns, I have come to realise that there are positive aspects to our new way of life.

daily routine

I’ve found it’s important to maintain a daily routine. Jules and I still get up at a similar time to when we were in the office. The lack of our frustrating commute has afforded us more time to fill our morning with a quick ‘Joe Wicks’ style HIT session followed by an enjoyable and more relaxed breakfast before starting my day with a daily 8.30am call with my team to discuss the day ahead.

My schedule varies day to day, but Jules and I always ensure we schedule regular breaks with each other to get away from the screen and grab a coffee, lunch or even a home-made treat. I’ve discovered I can also bake in lockdown… Look out for me on next year’s Bake Off! (or perhaps not, it was really all of Jules’ hard work)

At the end of the day we always ensure we turn off our laptops and clear away our workstations. The fact we are locked down in a two bedroom flat, our living room has become our lounge, restaurant, pub and gym so it’s important to switch off from ‘work mode’, so once my pen is down and laptop closed, I can focus on home life.

staying connected

I have never connected so well with friends and family than I have in this lockdown period. It has made me realise the importance of the people in my life and how vital it is to stay in touch. This is something I will ensure I continue to do post lockdown.

My experience of virtual meetings, whether on Teams, Zoom or Skype to name a few, are generally positive. They are run efficiently, and objectives are regularly achieved within the scheduled time slot. There is also no time lost travelling to and from meetings, although this can often be more a curse than a blessing as my diary now regularly gets filled with back to back meetings.

The disadvantage I am finding of attending virtual meetings is that I am now utilising the same platforms for both work and social settings. It feels like I am now going to the same bar to meet my colleagues, clients, family and friends repeatedly, every day in an ongoing cycle. I believe it’s been named ‘Zoom Fatigue’, who would of thought that would have been a thing… Don’t get me wrong, as I mentioned above, I enjoy my friends and family catch ups, however, I do look forward now to evenings where I don’t need to look at a screen! It’s even driven me to going for a run… it’s that serious.

the pro’s and con’s

As Engineers, we love to compartmentalise everything into order and make a list. So here are my lists (in true bullet point fashion) of the main positives and negatives on my experience of lockdown:

Positives

  •  I have not missed my commute in any way shape or form. The journey to and from work on the Northern line are a daily bind.
  • I am overwhelmed with pride at the way the Parmarbrook team have adapted to deal with the lock down situation. This proves how resilient we are as a group and is testament to the extraordinary individuals that form Parmarbrook.
  •  I have experienced a tremendous sense of community spirit and got to know all my neighbours, from a social distance, during our weekly Thursday night NHS applause, when out on my daily walk/run or through the offer of a simple favour.
  •  I’ve enjoyed spending my days with my wonderful partner. It’s very rare to get an insight into the daily workings of her vocation and to say it’s been an experience is an understatement. We have both learned from each other’s jobs and have a much deeper understanding and respect for what each other does.

Negatives

  • Parmarbrook have always adopted a collaborative approach to our projects, both internally and with a wider group of clients and consultants. The experience of operating remotely has been testing and no matter how good the technology is, I miss my days of face to face meetings or workshops where I can roll my sleeves up, put pen to paper and solve the design challenges we face day to day.
  • Parmarbrook are also a sociable bunch and we have a wonderful team and culture. This is something I miss daily, whether its playing table tennis during the lunch hour or going for a beer in the evening at one of our favoured locals (Shoreditch has many)
  • Zoom Fatigue has definitely set in. I can’t stress how important it is to get away from the screen where possible.

the future

There’s no doubt that COVID19 has changed the way we will look at the workplace in the future. We have always practised flexible working at Parmarbrook, I just never thought about what a full remote working set up would look like, and just how effective it could be.

How the office environment will adapt for our return is still up for debate and will no doubt change further over the coming weeks/months.

I will certainly look back on this time as a chance to reflect and look forward to a brighter future post COVID19. We live in a time where sustainability is vital to our survival. Hopefully this may be the wake up call we all needed.

I do look forward to returning to the office eventually. I moved to London 5 years ago due to the attraction of the city,  I love the vibrancy of Shoreditch and the people I get to work with every day. I eagerly await the day I can see everyone in person and enjoy a beer… or two.

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