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The Lockdown Diaries – Sarah Sparshott

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This week sees us rack up 100 days of lockdown – perhaps we can’t really call it ‘lockdown’ anymore, given that many of the restrictions initially placed on our everyday lives are gradually being lifted, but it certainly doesn’t feel ‘normal’ yet. For me, it won’t be ‘normal’ until I can give my Mum and Dad a hug!

This milestone does seem like an appropriate time to reflect on the highs and lows of lockdown life, and to focus on which aspects of it I would like to carry over into post-lockdown world.

Staying connected

I have been incredibly proud of the whole Mercer & Hole team and the way we have adapted to remote working, almost overnight in some cases. Whilst I appreciate we’re not providing a ‘frontline service’ in the same way as our NHS workers and key workers, I do hope that for many of our clients we have provided a lifeline of sorts, just by being at the end of the phone to answer their questions and allay some of their fears as they navigate their way through these unprecedented times. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to ‘chat’ to some of my clients, away from the office environment. Conversations have had a very different ‘feel’ to them and I’ve got to know some of my clients a lot better – I’ve learnt about their families, as well as their businesses, and we’ve even shared the odd home schooling tip, which has been incredibly useful.

Challenges

I think the biggest challenge for me has been maintaining ‘work-life balance’ – it’s harder to separate work and home life when they are all happening in the same space.

Mercer & Hole were already a close team, which stood us in excellent stead for remote working. People have made a tremendous effort to stay connected during this surreal time and those connections are certainly something to hold onto when we all return to the office. Much as I love the short commute from my bedroom to the study, I have missed the office office banter is difficult to emulate in a virtual world and I miss real people – faces on a screen aren’t quite the same. Having said that, remote working has offered the opportunity to improve some efficiencies and avoid those ‘unnecessary’ meetings.

Feeling part of the team

Communication has been key over the last few months – we’ve talked to each other lots (and thanks to our fabulous IT team, the technology has held up), on the phone, on TEAMS or Zoom and more recently, at the odd socially distanced gathering. Departments have organised their own virtual get-togethers, and there have been plenty of firm wide initiatives (videos, montages, bake offs, competitions etc) to help us feel part of a team and make us feel loved. I’m really looking forward to our virtual dance lesson with a Strictly Come Dancing star!

I hope that as we gradually return to the roller coaster of everyday life, and our economy begins its recovery, we will remember the sometimes calmer days of ‘lockdown’ and maybe take the opportunity to press pause, just every now and again.

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