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Simon Parfey reflects on working and living through lockdown

Since I joined Treework Environmental Practice over six years ago, I have become accustomed to a remote style of working. The company has achieved a great deal of success through the principle that staff should be equipped and supported to work from anywhere. It has invested in a work-anywhere-kit and technology, including its tree GIS to ensure that the team of professionals remain productive and are responsive to the needs of our clients. We are also aware of the challenges of working as a de-centralised team and have spent much energy bringing our people together for joint meetings and training. That said, the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic has still produced some challenges for us as a business, and as individuals.

It has not been a smooth ride as the country has adjusted to the government guidance: the restrictions on travel, self-isolation, and in some cases, family members in the same house living separate from one another. Many of us have had to find/cope with new ways of managing the work-life balance as many of the barriers between these two aspects came crashing down weeks ago.

Within Treework, we have been fortunate and carried on working. We have remained focused on the activities that support clients on projects while managing our staff’s health and well-being. We have been able to do this with only a minimal amount of staff on furlough, the occasional and usual bit of staff holiday. Despite a momentary dip to our inbound requests, our entire team is as busy as ever.

I hope that this is indicative of the entire country’s economy charged up and ready to bounce back. However, I suspect that we are far from counting all the casualties associated with this pandemic. I consider myself lucky and privileged to be in the position I am, though I have not found the adjustment to the ‘new normal’ a walk in the park. The constant division of focus between home life and work throughout the day is tough, but I have at least tried to go a bit easier on myself, where I fail to meet my expectations of pre-lockdown performance!

“It’s good to talk.”

One consequence of imposed isolation that may stay standing the test of time has been the general increase in communication levels. Video conferencing software has been at the heart of the Treework workflow for over five years. However, I cannot recall a time when I have had as many conversations with neighbours and passers-by, Skype calls with family and friends, GoToMeeting training sessions, WhatsApp channels active, or MS Team calls meeting colleagues and clients. Using all these platforms for the access that they afford us to the outside world has compelled us to practice the art of talking and, more importantly, listening to others, with a genuine, heartfelt interest in each other’s plight in the common ground that is the Covid-19 pandemic. I consider this a rare opportunity to use the situation to forge even better professional relationships with clients (The Trouble with Client) and talk more honestly with friends, family, and workmates about how we feel and how work is. I understand the importance of not only taking responsibility for our actions, but also our emotions and how we communicate more openly. I see this as one of the biggest positives of this extraordinary situation that we are all in.

It is clear that everyone has been affected to varying degrees by the current COVID situation, but I am sure that there will be many more positives to come out of all of this.

I am still enjoying many of the conversations that I have with clients and working from home, where we both gain a glimpse of each other’s personal lives. Long may these continue! No longer do I have to run away from my three children to a distant corner of the house to take a phone call.

A copy of our policy on Covid-19 is available here.

Working And Living Through Lockdown

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