‘Tain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it.
That’s what gets results, so goes the song. What the COVID19 pandemic has shown is that many of the ways that people insisted on doing things were neither essential or efficient; many were about control of people’s time and actions. Interestingly, before the current realization that remote working was a feasible option, I’d had some long discussions with people who insisted that face-to-face was vital to conducting business well. Well, guess what? When someone tells you that you can sign a death warrant travelling and meeting like that, the mind is amazingly refocused. But, as an advocate, I am one of the converted going on over a decade; admittedly, as a happy retiree. But, my point was often that working away from the noise and distractions of a ‘work place’, people could be much more productive. Many people are now finding they are working longer hours and/or getting more done in less time. Working at home demands focusing on different processes, including not duplicating or repeating tasks. But, let me leave that treatise aside.
The other thing I mentioned to a friend was how even top level sport could become a virtual reality. Along comes COVID19. Lo and behold! Professional sports are embracing virtual sport.
So, adjustments are the norm and nothing is static. What’s happened in our lives, and those associated with us?
Technology has been the big saviour is many ways. Video conferencing and online school are the major daytime activities for my wife and daughter. The software has become much better in recent years, but it is a major user of Internet access, and bandwidth issues mean that my wife has had to boost the routers she uses; my daughter has become a privileged partner, as her school sessions are as, if not more important. We all make use of phone software such as WhatsApp to keep in touch with a wide range of contact; the phone is also used, but is less of a go-to means. I’m an avid user of social media such as Twitter and Facebook and the former is a great conduit for current news from all points as well as a communications platform. My blog is also an important window. My teenager is also keeping tabs on her friends with the likes of TikTok, and also side chats in teleconferencing software.
But the bigger winner has been videoconferencing software like Zoom, which has now fitted into family life as regular family sessions are part of our days: a dozen or more chattering and giggling and intense visual contact is keeping many of our family sane. Of course, it’s also part of the ‘work’ space, and it’s been the meeting space for an increasing number of people, even though security risks are there and we at least are using Zoom with passwords. Funnily, technology like email has become a sort of dinosaur. Finally, businesses have realized that they need to step up their use of online access, and again, it’s amazing how the veil of impossibility has been removed to display a world that many asked for but were told couldn’t happen: I’ve had several invitations to online. AGMs, something I asked for years ago concerning overseas companies and is now on offer.
Finally, businesses have realized that they need to step up their use of online access; again, it’s amazing how the veil of impossibility has been removed to display a world many had asked for but were told couldn’t happen–I’ve a few invitations to online AGMs, something I pleaded for years ago and is now on offer.
Banking and finance were ahead in that game and probably still are, in general, and will stay so with the demand for payments methods like contactless cards, as people’s concerns about touching public surfaces increase. We’re also seeing a range of retailers are making online buying possible, beyond the already flourishing giants like Amazon. My wife is glad that she can order fruit and vegetables that way, pick them up locally, though lining up for that, but not for selection.
Other things that have gained importance is simply moving around, because a home can seem oddly confining when one cannot leave. I swim, ride a bike, walk around my yard, swing a golf club, garden a bit. I enjoy the outdoors and have moved my work space there this week, and benefited from seeing how the plants and creatures large and small get about their business and barely notice me.
My wife’s tennis is on hold, but she wanders around while she works and often works standing up, as she would in her regular office. My daughter, an athlete, has workouts from school which she does in her room (though I want to see pictures 🙂 ). The grands take a stroll outside occasionally, especially once it’s cooled down. Our housekeeper is always on the go. I was already in the habit of making myself move around, and needless trips up and down the stairs were part of that.
But, the mind needs its exercise too. Some of that comes from conversation and just normal interaction. I like to challenge people and sometimes do it too much, but it’s to build that brain muscle. I always took heart from my father after his stroke when he was fixing for an argument, as it showed the brain was really active. I like other mind games, too; I’m a seasoned punster, and I can string arguments along quite easily and I love word play just in the form of arguing about the real meaning of words. But, I play Words with Friends, too. My mother-in-law craves her word search.
Finally, we’ve found the importance of cooking and communal dining; we were always a family that appreciated the importance of food as social bond, but now it’s even more important. Preparing food is often both challenge and adventure. The kitchen can look like a surgical ward, all neat and tidy, but soon gets transformed into a battlefield, with the ‘bodies’ of preparation strewn all over.
We have a family dinner, outside, every evening, and it’s time to reconnect and check in, so my daughter has to say how her school day went (like on the drive home). It’s ‘open mike’. It’s usually a jovial time. We took a chance and had friend come for dinner, at a good distance apart at the table–they were opposite us and about 5-6 feet away 🙂 It was nice for them as a couple to spend time with a bigger group, and they brought homemade bread; we also enjoyed the different company. But, generally, that wont be happening much for a while.
Being at home all the time is a challenge, for most, and confinement is just not what people normally choose. So, I’ll look a bit at some of the downsides of all that family time when I next write.