New social distancing rules mean our working environments will change. Some who have already returned have seen huge changes.
For office staff, there will be new concepts in dealing with their health and safety after lockdown. Honestly, the thought of working in this type of segregated ‘cells’ seems very oppressive. Other solutions with transparent screens are more open and but even these ‘better’ designs will take some adjusting to.
What about the ‘water-cooler’ and kitchens? I miss those fun conversations and social catch-ups. These will certainly be change!
As a self employed marketing consultant I work from home, so sticking to social distancing is not a problem there. I’m now the very best of friends with my coffee machine and I believe our relationship has gone to another level!
But I also used to hot-desk and co-worker spaces. It’s a great way of connecting with people. As was business networking, absolutely key to new business and I’ve met great people at these events. Online meetings are a great tool. I have been an advocate for a long time. But you really can’t beat face to face meetings, a more engaging and fuller experience.
It will be interesting to see how our environments and habits evolve. Safety is key but there are changes and everyone will need to adapt.
For the past 14 months, I have been working from home as a freelance marketing consultant. I have had plenty of time to adapt to home working. Even before that, I spent several years moving around numerous offices and departments. Hot-desking in various organisations as they continually evolved and changed. I have learned to travel light and to adapt quickly! So, in the face of this Coronavirus pandemic and with all this experience you would think it would be second nature for me to maintain a routine of remote working and social distancing?
My Usual Routine?
Well yes and no.
Yes, I have set myself up to digitally work from home and I have an established work-space organised. I have put in place routines and disciplines to help me keep on track with my business. I have read plenty of articles about keeping on top of personal well-being whilst working remotely. On my laptops, I have an abundance of software and apps for any planned webinars and video calls. I have all my work files ‘Cloud-hosted’ ready to go and backed up. But the key thing here is whilst I do work from home, I never planned to be socially isolating. I certainly never planned to be doing it full time. To have flexible working was always a top ambition. Having the ability to work remotely was a great option for me. However, all these things were put in place for when it proved impractical, either due to distance, timing or availability, to meet clients face to face It was there for when it was much more time and cost-efficient to ‘meet’ online.
My aim has always been to meet with customers face to face and my home office was a ‘Plan B’ scenario. But now many people are faced with remote working and somehow this is all different, it is very different indeed and it seems that things may never be the same again.
Not so long ago a normal day for me would see me out and about doing face to face meetings and calls with clients, possibly going to networking events or maybe sitting in a co-working space. This ‘new’ remote working is very far from business as usual. Certainly, social distancing is new territory, even for me as an experienced remote worker.
How Have Things Changed?
Today, like most marketers and non-keyworkers, I am working from home. Something I have done numerous times before.
But today it has a completely different feel. This morning it was eerily quiet, a strange stillness in the air and it reminded me of when I once stood on a deserted beach on the West Coast of Ireland. No-one around. Very little sound and a curious quietness that allowed my thoughts just to wander. I switch my thoughts back to now. For a moment I imagined the great turbulence happening in hospitals and emergency services today and speculate where will this all end?
When Will This End?
The truth is no one knows.
I go back to my project lists to look for some degree of normality. But again, this looks very different, this is not normal. We have no idea of what is normal anymore, or what normal will mean in the future. And then it dawns on me that it’s not just the great outdoors that feels so different, it’s not just my list of projects that feel so different, it’s that the whole world feels different.
Back to my business and I realise that I have little idea of where this will all end up. In terms of my focus there are few new calls, yet fewer meetings and even less rushing to set up for the latest video calls. Businesses are diligently prioritising and rapidly putting their contingency plans into action. People everywhere are being completely disrupted with an unprecedented rate of change in both their social and business life.
The one thing that I do know is that I will continue with my plans.
They may well need adapting but the one thing I am sure of is that we all need to continue collaborating with our customers and each other.
The Key Going Forward
So, whilst businesses continue to battle with the unknown and set up remote working for those employees who need to self-isolate or socially distance themselves, one thing is for certain and that is that communication is more important than ever. I have re-discovered and remembered the importance of all the communities and social groups that I am a part of. As an independent marketing freelancer and a remote worker, I have reflected on how many communities I belong to. Naturally my first port of call is my fantastic family, there’s also my great extended family and then there’s also my wonderful friends. I consider myself to be truly privileged.
We all spend a lot of time at work and suddenly and through my business I realise how many people I connect with every day. The small, medium and large companies, the net-workers; the start-up entrepreneurs; freelancers; marketers; digital gurus; previous colleagues (who have since become friends); agencies and suppliers and the list goes on……… Reflecting on this list I find my thoughts darting back on all the news updates, the people affected by this outbreak and those that yet may be affected in the future.
It’s A Very Difficult Time For Everyone
All this change has created a wealth of media coverage and articles giving helpful advice. Here is a guide that you may wish to have a quick read: Coronavirus: Five ways to work well from home: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51868894. It is a simple guide offering sensible advice. A quick search web search will bring up plenty of other articles too. I have found it useful to draw on different skills and I limit the amount of time I spend on the news sites. This gives time out for other thoughts – and hence this posting. I felt I needed to get some thoughts down on ‘paper ‘and I hope that others facing the same circumstances find it of interest.
So now what is my plan, what action will I be taking in these turbulent times? Like many I will be social distancing and I will be following up on point 4 in the ‘Five ways to work’ article. It’s the “Pick up the phone” action. I will be making sure I stay in touch with all those important groups that are have become an integral part of my everyday life. There is something else which I felt compelled to do. I joined as a volunteer in my local community. It is a local group communicating in WhatsApp and Facebook Chats to support those who are more vulnerable and may need greater support from the community. Whilst my business is vitally important and I should continue with my plans, it also feels that it is a time to look to your local community.
Being part of my family community, being part of the business community, being part of the local community. It’s all about collaborating and communicating. In these unprecedented times keep safe, do the best you can do and most importantly don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.
People often ask me why I chose to become a freelance marketing consultant. Well, one of the key reasons I chose this path was the flexibility it gives you.
During the past few days had been intense. I was writing the content for a complex and very technical article for a client. I have just completed it and I was feeling very satisfied after hitting the send button. I had spent a lot of time researching technical standards and regulations. Now the article was completed and safely in the hands of the client for review. 😎 Time for me now to take a break and refresh my creative thoughts.
Working as a freelance marketing consultant means I can work from home and when needed close myself off from any outside distractions. It means I can focus on greater periods of intensity when you need to really dig in. But after those periods of intensity, we all need to take time out to refresh our thoughts. Allow our brain to reset and clear the decks so to speak.
This was such a time. After delivering the article it was that time to step away from my laptop and reward myself with a lunchtime walk. Working from home and as a freelancer means that I am fortunate in that I can generally choose when to take a break. So when the weather is so nice, as it was today, it’s great to do just that. Later that day I return to my work and catch up in the evening time with other projects.
This is just one of the reasons I chose to become a freelancer.
During the Industrial Revolution Birmingham was often referred to as the ‘City of a Thousand Trades’. It was the centre for many artisan trades and home to a wealth of artisan workshops.
As a Brummie it’s great to see that Birmingham has just been listed as one of the top places for Business Start-Ups. That means there are also plenty of business and marketing opportunities for anyone in the marketing sector. I am proud that this City is the home for Acclaimed Marketing! As a marketing and business development consultancy, it is the home of my business! As a freelance marketing consultant, it is my home!
I am delighted to join the respected Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. As an independent marketing consultant, this new membership gives the opportunity to network with more established organisations in the region. Under my new company, Acclaimed Marketing Ltd, I have already booked for the many exciting business events coming up!
I’m really looking forward to working with all those member companies. As a business to business specialist, it provides great networking events. I hope to be very busy connecting with all local small and mediums sized businesses that need traditional and digital marketing support. I am genuinely excited at the prospect of working with them to help them develop and grow their business.
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