The new normal
by Ifor Gruffydd
‘Things will never be the same again’ is constantly being heard by us all during the current Covid-19 emergency. At the beginning, I thought “here we go again, people being negative”, but by now I agree with them. I’ve come to realise that some things will permanently change and maybe some of these changes will be for the better.
We have an opportunity to look after staff’s health and well-being. When I started working in the late 1980s, most of my peers and I worked the conventional 9 till 5. There was a clear line between work and personal life. Maybe one of the negative impacts of IT developments was to get rid of those traditional working hours, enabling people to work from anywhere and being able to communicate through phone and e-mail. Side by side with the austerity cuts that have been faced by the public and voluntary sectors it has led to people working more and more hours (with the help of technology) and the line between work and personal life has been blurred.
I’ve been working from home for two months now, and I’ve been able to do this thanks to technology – video meetings have been a life saver! And this is the other side of the coin. This period has shown us that it is possible to have a better work / life balance. The time spent driving to work is now used to go running and to keep fit. If it’s sunny, you can leave the computer and go for a walk or go and relax in the garden for 20 minutes. There’s nothing wrong with catching up with those two hours in the evening – whatever works for you. Even though that mountain of work remains, what’s important is looking after your well-being and mental health rather than feeling like a hamster going around and around on that wheel.
Maybe this new normal will remain to some degree, and people will work from home for weeks rather than days. There will be less travelling to meetings, less long train journeys down to Cardiff. I can see clear advantages, like the impact us all using less of our cars will have on the environment.
I like this idea of a new normal.