“Have you read this?” my husband leans across the breakfast table, jabbing at an article he is reading.
“No dear” I respond, “you haven’t shared the paper this morning”
“Apparently” he continues, “we will all emerge from lockdown either as a chunk, a hunk or a drunk – which one are you?”
“You have to ask, dear?”
The pages of the newspaper rustle, as if millions of synapses suddenly snapped into action. After twelve years of wedded something or other Hubs has become attuned to a potential disturbance in the marital force, especially when he senses he is the likely cause. I leave him to ponder quite what has caused this particular frisson and head for the door – I do not have the time to play with my food on this morning as it was 28th March, the day the Welsh Government lifted all remaining legal coronavirus restrictions in Wales and allowed people to return to the workplace. I am excited; pleased to be going back to the office, to the people I will find in it and to whatever will be a typical day in the office from now on.
We are heading into late spring. On a good weather day in March the Welsh valley in which Rx resides is chocolate box perfect with gambolling lambs, drifts of daffodils and the song thrush singing his song twice over. Today’s spring sunshine belies quite how wild the nearby Cyrn-y-Brain mountain and Llandegla moors can be in midwinter. My journey shows me that nothing much seems to have changed. Recent deluges have exacerbated the potholes, some of which my prop shaft and I remember miserably from our pre-lockdown days. In these rural parts, it may be turnout time for the wintered-in youngstock but not it seems for those responsible for the maintenance and repair of Her Majesty’s highways. Nor are summer, autumn or winter it would appear. I digress.
Arriving at the office, I add the supply of teabags and biscuits I have brought to the collection in the kitchen. Everyone has had the same thought -which exemplifies Rx to a tee or a tea or a coffee. After much air hugging – social distancing still observed as no one wants to fall on what is hopefully the home straight – and admiring of natty new hair-dos, we take our drinks and our double-choccy muffins and head for our desks. It is good to be back.
With the benefit of hindsight, the impact on an Rx working day of becoming a “quarenteam” during those long lockdown months did not prove as challenging as it may first have seemed. Rx’s quarenteam days consisted of the same work routines and online interactions in which we had engaged pre-lockdown. Built on a network model Rx is well seasoned in working remotely with a distributed team and in utilizing Microsoft Teams, Skype and Webex for collaboration and communication with our clients. Now we have returned to the office, the atmosphere within Rx continues to be collaborative and uncompetitive. When, as we sometimes do, we have to deal with the unexpected or with a complex scenario or rush to meet a deadline the Rx policy is to turn goose and fly in formation together to reduce the workload for the affected individual. The honking noises heard from a skein of geese in flight are speculated to be the goosey equivalent of cheerleading, communications from the group to encourage everyone to keep flying towards their goal. The success of the individual is acknowledged and celebrated by the rest of the flock, keeping everyone going forward together. At Rx the ethos is always to embrace the support offered without handing over responsibility entirely. This enables the individual to accomplish and achieve, thereby ensuring the team can accomplish more – a credo that has not failed to result in successful outcomes for the individual and for our clients.
It is unlikely that full time in-person working will be routine in the future. The pros and cons of in-person, remote or hybrid models are much discussed and each of us will likely strive to find options that best suit our workloads and our work-life balance. As we turn to face the tasks which post-pandemic life will bring we know for some it will be a worrying time. We must continue to protect the vulnerable and take responsibility for our own well-being. For others it will be a long overdue return to what they would like to be a pre-pandemic lifestyle. Return to work day for me, and I suspect many others throughout Wales, was part celebration, part normal day at the desk, part brave new world and part times they have a-changed. As it was pre-pandemic, the moment at hand is the only thing we really control and we will have to wait to see what tomorrow will bring.
Oh, and by the by – turns out I’m a hunk (bless him).