How Many Balls Can you Juggle?
This was a question I asked myself when the government had no choice but to “lockdown” our country to protect us all from the COVID -19 virus – something that we will hopefully never have to experience in our lifetimes again.
Prior to the announcement Lanyon Bowdler had already started making plans about how we could ensure our clients needs could be met, and their legal requirements dealt with in the event our offices would need to close. One of the first objectives was to ensure as many staff as possible had remote access to allow them to work from home as though they were in the office. Friday 20 March was the big test day – the day when we were all to work from home and test to see if the system could cope – so glad I was not part of the IT team that day!
The system coped and so we were all ready to go when the lockdown announcement was made on 23 March. But what about the other issues we were all going to have to face? I confess this was a struggle for me – I like working, I like my work family who I spend the majority of my week with, and I enjoy working with clients and getting them the results they deserve. Suddenly I had to work at home, my daughter’s school had to close, my son and husband were furloughed and I had moved my Dad in, as he lives alone and I was worried about him – not to mention three dogs who were completely confused about how the quiet house they are used to having to themselves was suddenly full of five people, and who really did not have a clue about what was going on. It’s okay I thought, I’ve got this, it’s only for a couple of weeks!
So it begins…logging on early in the morning, before everyone gets up, wearing pyjamas and thinking that it is actually quite nice not to have to worry about combing your hair, putting your make up on (although I do brush my teeth!), reading through emails that may have been sent the evening before and setting what the days work will be, and ensuring that the files can be progressed as far as possible.
But then it starts, the issues of not working in your normal environment! Your family slowly appearing making their breakfast in the kitchen whilst you are on the telephone to a client, playing music on their phones without their headphones, asking you questions “what can I have to eat” “look at this piece of work I have done for school”, “Mum what’s the answer to this question” (thank god for Google!), or just being in your eye line, knowing that they are bored and they want you to try and entertain them whilst you are working on your computer, the dogs barking because a pigeon dared to wander into the garden whilst you are reading a complex document, the washing machine going on to its spin cycle just as your boss calls to check in and then… the worst of all….wanting to use the bathroom, but being worried that if you are away from your desk and someone calls they won’t believe that you are actually working!
I confess the first few weeks were stressful. Suddenly I am working in a bubble at home with only virtual contact with the outside world, I am a mother, a professional, a teacher, a cook, a cleaner, a counsellor, a doctor and even a hairdresser! I’m all of these things, but not actually feeling like myself.
So when it became apparent that the “couple of weeks” were more likely going to be a few months I took stock and realised that I can actually juggle all of these balls. I can be the teacher to support my daughter, the tea can be cooked at the end of the working day as it normally would be, the floors can be moped at the end of the day (even if its at 9pm in the evening), I can be positive in unprecedented times and it’s okay to use the bathroom even though you are working at home!
So 10 weeks or so in and I’ve got this. I can work at home and still do a good job for my clients and they can call and email me whenever they need to, I can still speak to new clients who need help, cases can be moved forwards and rehabilitation can be arranged, even if it has to be virtual and cases can still be settled. I can support my daughter with her schooling and I can keep house all at the same time. And best of all we have got less time in lockdown to go than we have already done.