Many of us have been confined to the Lockdown enforcement and have had to embrace this. This is the new norm for everyone around the world, however I believe that we would fill the impact more in societies and cultures like ours (African culture). Things we took for granted before have now become privileges for us.
I got excited about the entire lockdown opportunity without understanding the constraints and restrictions and the meaning of lockdown. Lockdown is a prison protocol that usually prevents people, information or cargo from leaving and area. The protocol can usually only be initiated by someone in position of authority. I had thought this was a great opportunity for me to rest from all my frequent travels back and forth which were now taking a toll on my health, I thought I would be able to have my alone time and just not have any commitments outside of my house. This process I did not link in anyways to the pandemic, just thought hmmm time to slow down and rejuvenate.
As the lock down progressed, my perspectives started changing on various aspects that the lockdown exposed me too:
1. Self-Reflection: I did a lot of reflection in the first few weeks about my life. I would say using my financial terms – “I did an end to end stock take of my life”. Here I am just confined to my house. I now realized that I just could not get up and go out. Could not visit family members, especially ones that you just stopped by to see daily or regularly. I just had to stay at home. I started taking stock of things I used to do that because of the lockdown I could not do now but yet did not miss, also started looking through the things that I used to do that I could no longer do because of the enforced lock down, but put a void in my life. I also reinforced by thoughts that indeed material things did not matter anyone. Everyone was now playing on one plain field despite your status, wealth etc. we were all locked down and could not leave our homes.
2. Family Bonding: The lockdown made me value my family much more. It allowed me to reconnect with my two teenage children who would normally have been in boarding school. We were all able to sit together more as a family and talk. Understand them more about the things going on in their spaces. We cooked meals together, eat meals at the same time, we all connected more and bonded more as a family. My husband and I got to educate them on how upbringing, our boarding school days in Nigeria and the values and beliefs we learnt then and have made us who we are today. We all realized that all we had was us and we had to make the best of our time together bearing in mind that we might never have an opportunity like this again where we would all be together in the same place for an extended period of time like we have now.
3. Mindset Change: This period as also required me to change my mindset in so many things. I have had to relook at how I have approached my future, career path etc. And understand that we would never go back to how things were before. Post the Lockdown and the need to start working from home, I always thought that you had to be physically present for your presence to be felt. This has now changed. I now know that I am more effective working from home than I was going to the office every day. I can plan my day and time and get the best balance. Jobs that we think could not be done remotely have now been proven otherwise.
4. New Concept of Working from Home (WfH): This was a very new concept for me to continuously work from home over an extended period. I have always embraced the remote
working i.e. working from Home concept over the years. I normally would work from home 2 days a week. However never in my life would I have thought that I could perform my role effectively working form home continuously. I have now been home for over 10 weeks now and I have been able to perform my role effectively and lead my team effectively as well. Obviously there are a few advice and learnings that I would like to share to ensure you can perform effectively as this as not just a success from week 1, there have been some challenges that we would have to address and put in place.
· WfH requires your I ensure you have the right infrastructure and tools and equipment’s in place i.e. a dedicated workspace, great internet connectivity, laptop, office chair and v table etc.
· Communicate your working hours with your family and your line manager – especially if you must support your children and other family members at home due to you now working from home. For those working at home with young children, tap into flexible working patterns that suits for children’s needs.
· Follow same routine as you would have if you were going into the office. Wake up, shower, dress up. Use your office drive time to ensure you get your workspace ready for the day, make your cup of tea or coffee. If you would have normally stopped by at some off your colleagues’ desk as you arrived in the office, please give them a call and use that as your stop by opportunity. Socialize and check in with your colleagues online.
· Ensure your calendar is well managed and you block out time for your lunch, tea breaks, comfort breaks etc. Do not accept back to back meetings as this would have a huge toll on your wellbeing. Set ground rules with people so they do not bombard your calendar invites that can be easily achieved with a 5 mins phone call.
· Ensure you work around a lot and maintain the right health and safety rules that you would have had to adhere to in the office.
· Do not forget to take your sick leave and annual leave where appropriate.
· Do not be too hard on yourself, stay positive and ensure you look after your mental wellbeing.
5. Embracing technology: Hmm this was an area I was not too comfortable with. I would normally not explore using technology, but the lockdown and the working from home has made me fully embrace technology. I have had to have an open mind to embrace the technology that has been thrown at me during this period. Zoom conferencing, Microsoft Teams etc. I Have also enrolled myself in as many trainings as I can to ensure I am able to navigate seamlessly with all these platforms that would now be my normal way of working.
6. Financial Readiness post Lockdown: One must start using the lockdown period to take stock of your expenses and start curtailing this as the pandemic would result to a huge economic downturn, which would impact all of us. We must become very frugal with our spend. Ensure you start adopting a savings culture and putting money aside for the future. Look at all your expenses and prune the expenses that are not necessary. We should all be saving from social activities now…..I am hoping that we are all now loosing appetite for large parties, functions etc and the expenses that are attached to those functions.
7. Support Structure: Lastly, I have learnt to appreciate my entire support structure. It is very easy to take all these people for granted when they are there for you at your beck and call. Spoke to a lot of people who had to send their domestic staff away due to the pandemic, especially those
that had their staff coming in daily, to limit the risk it was best that they stayed away for the lockdown period. This has put a lot of strain on some families. You also get to appreciate the schools, your mum’s place to drop off children, day care centers, family, nannies, drivers, cooks, gardener etc.
I believe we should all use this lock down period to re assess our life’s and priorities and ensure we take stock of the things that now matter to us and those that do not. I have used this period to take stock of things than I now want to Start, Stop, and continue. I can tell you that my continue list keeps shrinking day by day as my perspective changes every day. The things that I though mattered just as we embarked lockdown have changed 10 weeks into lockdown. And I am sure the list would keep changing. Please ensure that you take a good look at these things and re prioritize.