30th March 2021
Lockdown anniversary: are we still the same after all?
March 2021 is almost over, and it feels like the pandemic is too. The same pandemic that got the world into lockdown a year ago. However, no one has a clear idea if this virus is going to disappear soon. What we know up until now is that avoiding crowds, keeping distance, and staying at home has been part of a process that has compromised our personal and professional lives. But how so?
Whilst speaking with Sebastian Agerskov, Traffic Lab Co-Founder & CEO regarding the different experiences the company has faced and overcome during the lockdown, we could name three main points among thousands of different thoughts:
Communication has not been easy: to coordinate, corporate and reciprocate between departments was easier when working at the office. Everybody had the chance to sit next to each other, and without a face mask (this already sounds strange in covid times).
However, the massive shift towards (forced) remote work revealed new abilities that led us towards an appreciation for hidden skill acquisition and trustworthiness. This, not only workwise but also on a personal level became apparent when finding ways to deal with being alone. The 2021 state report of remote work by Buffer, revealed that 16% of remote workers interviewed worldwide, find loneliness as their biggest challenge during the lockdown. Just after time passed by and the idea of getting back to the office was not on the agenda, some of us found companionship in turning on both camera and microphone whilst in online meetings. This was a great tool to connect easily with co-workers. It has made a difference, and still, some of us are trying to get better at it after the crazy year that we all have experienced.
Time to take a break: remote work can make time slip away from us and make us forget to take a much-needed breather. Especially during a difficult year where seeing friends after work was not even part of the agenda or when working became parenting at the same time while kids had to stay home and deal with online classes. Before covid-19 and according to OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) full-time workers devoted time for personal care and leisure in 66% of their day on average in Denmark. During the lockdown, this decreased by 16%. It does not seem like a relevant fact (sounds familiar to when the virus was thought of just as another cold) but when it comes to being productive at work and in life it is important to be active, have a laugh and share with others virtually (for only now, we hope).
This is one of the reasons why many of the Traffic Labbers put effort and creativity in to come up with ideas that make us feel active or in a different state of mind. The company also assigned a budget for our social activities such as Friday Bars. Of course, it is not the same feeling but it is a new experience that a huge part of the Traffic Lab team has contributed to with ideas to socialize and get to know each other better while working from home, for example, an online wine tasting, some Kahoot quizzes, virtual escape rooms and an online dressed-up bingo. These interactions are part of our culture, the willingness of people to create a healthy fun work-environment to keep up the positive mindset and unity.
Work took over our personal space: waking up, choosing a nice shirt and wearing it with comfy sweatpants while carrying a strong cup of coffee around the house might be three things that most of us are doing during these times to feel ready and start a “regular” workday. This process, or at least the idea of remote work, could have sounded fun and relaxing at the beginning of the endless (hopefully not) covid-19, but after months that became a year, it has created the challenge of not being able to find a proper balance.
According to a Buffer study, 27% of remote workers worldwide feel unable to unplug off from their job tasks. To work, before the pandemic, was easier because of the fact of having to leave the office, it felt like a ritual that helped us to give closure to a workday. However, whilst creating an efficient home-working space, we had to rethink (and we still are) our workflows and tasks in a way that every department could benefit from. Implementing new systems and software, for example, and the ability to use the flexibility that remote work gives us is an essential part of a successful home office.
These times have led us to find balance in the middle of unexpected situations, they have shown us that we are open to changes, we can be productive as well while working remotely. The same study above reports that 99% of the full-time workers interviewed worldwide would choose to work remotely part-time for the rest of their careers. But what follows now? The virus is still around, some restrictions have been loosening up and slowly and steadily we will be back to the office under precautions trying to keep everybody safe.
Finally, let us remember that we are all different from each other and the company is not the same as it was a year ago, but unity, patience, empathy, and teamwork will always remain the core of our values, those that have kept us together and made us even stronger.