A year has passed since the country entered its first lockdown with a rapid, enforced shift to remote working in an effort to keep us all safe whilst trying to keep businesses going.
A very challenging period saw new ways of working and reduced social contact. We’ve all likely developed new work habits and schedules, but how have people adapted and changed? We have discovered how vital regular check-ins with colleagues are. No one realised how sweeping and long-term the changes would be, but lessons learned include finding new ways to connect with colleagues and clients and understanding that often a message works as well as face-to-face conversation.
Video calls had an early boom as meetings and catch-ups with colleagues (and friends) were made virtual. But many have now opted to switch to old-fashioned phone calls to avoid the pressures of being constantly on-screen.
Finding ways to stay healthy has also been part of the challenge, and many have found it hard to switch off, with research showing workers globally increased their hours after switching to remote work.
What positives have emerged while working from home? How else have you adapted to the new ways of working during the pandemic? We spoke with several colleagues at DLA and found that the lockdown has also provided many positives:
Iain Jones : Associate, Leeds Studio.
“I’ve found myself to be not as constrained by office hours. Pre-pandemic, I would leave home while my family were still fast asleep to try and beat the rush hour traffic. Late meetings, or discussions with colleagues in the office would then mean me leaving work late and arriving home roughly 12 hours after I’d left. During the pandemic, I Instead saw myself working in the morning before breaking off to do the school run, or going for a run in the daylight and finishing off that dreaded report in the evening when it was cold and dark. This has been a positive shift in working patterns, adapting schedules to suit myself as well as work.“
Esther Metcalf : Architect, London Studio
“There have been many lockdown positives….from the mundane like being able to wear my favourite yellow slippers with no one seeing, to the profound, being able to care for my Mum in her final months while still working remotely. Many moments I have managed to carve out with her in those precious weeks, but mostly it was making a million cups of Yorkshire Tea for her between Teams meetings!
Back in between times in London I have jumped on the cold swimming band wagon and delighted in freezing myself into some kind of icy delirium in the local reservoir at lunchtime with my boyfriend who has got adept at dragging me away from the computer.
I still delight in seeing my colleagues faces on the screen and am proud of the team work that has seen us through. Though I really can’t wait to make a round of real tea and bake a real cake for everyone to share face to face, with smiles all round.”
Stephanie Phillips : Pt 2 Architectural Assistant, Leeds Studio.
“At the very beginning of the lockdown I had 3 months left of my master’s degree. I was faced with cancelled studio tutorials, inability to access university workshops and adapting to presenting my work via zoom meetings. On mother’s day 2020 I moved home to wales, meaning that I could now complete my studies while sat in the garden rather than a 4-walled apartment overlooking an ASDA carpark…providing me the greatest positive to come out of lockdown that I could ask for! (Apart from coming back to DLA of course!)“
Sophie Hodges : Architect, Manchester Studio
“Working individually from home rather than together in our studio at first seemed like we would lose a sense of togetherness and collaboration. In practice this has been quite the opposite! Rather than just three busy studios we now have many and the ease of communication across all these offices through teams and screen sharing has really brought us closer as a whole practice.
On a more personal note, I purchased my first home just as we went into lockdown last March. The extra free time lockdown has gifted us has been great for getting into redecorating and DIY. Spending lots more time in my flat than we would have otherwise, we’ve managed to make it feel like home really quickly.
This year has also brought about an appreciation for the small things and a sense of ‘back to basics’ in what makes us happy. Simple pleasures such as good food, a good hug or a catch up with a friend on the phone have punctuated our days. I’ve found myself reviving childhood hobbies such as painting and making. I’ve also been re-growing food bought in supermarkets by planting seeds and seeing what will grow. I never thought I’d get such enjoyment from watching chilis grow!”