As someone’s carer prepares to become the world’s most powerful person, and the UK staggers like an arthritic drunk into its second national lockdown, we arrive at the letter W.
Winter traditionally spells semi-paralysis for the UK. This year, media hysteria means an almost inevitable total lockdown will be imposed to try to rescue Christmas.
Also, in the UK; an area the size of Wales has been put into a two-week complete ‘firebreak lockdown’. For once, in fact, it is Wales, and although infection rates there are lower than all the other UK nations, it has apparently been done to protect the NHS. Couldn’t they just clap like the rest of us once did?
W is for Work:
The French have a phrase: “Metro, boulot, dodo”, which is essentially, “Train, work, sleep”, which sums up the treadmill life of a commuter. Not anymore though. Now most (white collar) workers are WFH, one of the new acronyms we never knew we needed. 2020 is truly the year that keeps on giving.
Does working from home mean the end of the office?
The pandemic has accelerated many trends and working from home is one of them.
It asks the question; what is the office for and do we really need them?
The office is not just a drain on your bottom line (rent, electricity etc.); it is also the opportunity to position your company to your workforce. Your workspace reflects your brand and can be the means to provide an attractive and comfortable place for your employees, clients and potential employees and clients.
It also combats the real problems of loneliness that can result from working at home.
If you are new to a company, how can you assimilate a company culture, its values and ethos, if you have never visited your office, never met your potential mentors and leaders? The office is too entrenched in the culture of work to disappear, but it will undoubtedly change.
If, for example, you employ 20 people, it would currently appear eminently sensible, to lease a space that is comfortable for five and have only 25% of your workforce in the office on a rolling daily basis.
This strategy, having a reduced permanent workforce, also has the benefit of injecting cash into the areas surrounding offices. Maybe a cull of sandwich and coffee shops has been long overdue and office workers, in their depleted form, can help a reduced microcosm of businesses to survive and maybe flourish. The same goes for gyms and pubs.
As the French know, the daily commute can be a pain. Public transport is good for the environment, so we should make it more appealing. TfL and train companies should publicise the fact that trains, tubes and buses are safe. Get people back onto public transport and stop trying to make a profit from it. An efficient national public transport system is good for the environment and good for the economy.
Many work-from-homers will have let their season tickets lapse and the high costs of renewing will put them off returning to the cities. So, create more flexible season tickets reflecting that some days employees will go into the office, and others they won’t.
Working from home can be really lonely. Many people will not have spoken to friends or colleagues for months. Real life meetings stimulate creativity and companionship; it is not always pleasant working in a vacuum, teamwork can improve everyone’s standards of performance and work.
Work fulfills mental and social needs as well as financial, and employers who want to attract the best talent would do well to remember this.
And remember, 43% of married couples meet in the workplace.
The WHO (World Health Organization)
Founded in 1948, the WHO is a United Nations Agency responsible for public health, based in Geneva, Switzerland.
It is a shadowy organisation that tries to ‘give the highest attainment by all people of the highest level of health.’ Before the pandemic, it is probably best remembered for being shunned by Donald Trump and immediately after, sending out general advice on how to conquer the current pandemic (see R: for Reset).
Its latest advice was that national lockdowns do not work, which led to a rush of countries announcing new national lockdowns. The WhO is a busted flush.
W is also for War; let’s hope not; but nothing can be ruled out.
W is also for: Why? Why? Why?