11 observations from remote working during lockdown

 Chris Skinner photo
Chris Skinner Non-Executive Director
5min read

Pre-COVID, you could’ve called me a globe-trotter. And you wouldn’t have been wrong. As an author, commentator and public speaker, I’m rarely in one place for too long.

So getting used to working from home for the past six months has been a revelation, to say the least.

In light of World Mental Health Day 2020 (arguably the most important one yet) I thought I’d share some of the observations I’ve made since being thrust into 24/7 remote working.

While some of them might be trivial, it’s fair to say I’ve experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. Mental health isn’t a static creature, and it’s bound to fluctuate thanks to the blows we’ve been dealt by the pandemic - I’m sure you can relate.

  1. I’m only as good as my broadband speed. When the internet doesn’t work, I have a meltdown. It’s safe to say my addiction has reached new heights.
  2. Speaking of addictions, my other two seem to be coffee and pizza - neither of which I was vaguely interested in before the lockdown. No wonder my stomach now protrudes enough for me to rest my coffee cup on ☕
  3. In the never-ending world of virtual meetings and conferences, you begin to notice every nuance of every person 👀 Why hasn’t that person switched their video on? Wait: that person just frowned at my last comment. Did I say something wrong, or is that just how they look when they’re concentrating?
  4. And why is it that everyone expects me to have my video on?! I’m not hiding anything, but sometimes I just don’t feel business-presentable (hello pre-8am just-rolled-out-of-bed hair 😴) What happened to good old audio-only conference calls?
  5. Why did we fly around so much pre-pandemic? It felt good. We enjoyed it. But was it necessary? Given the numerous events that have been moved online or dropped completely, maybe not. I probably shouldn’t say this as a conference speaker, but the event companies are going to really struggle to get their mojo back after realising no one mourned not being able to attend GetYourMoJo 2020.
  6. Any semblance of planning has gone out of the window. I do have somewhat of a routine – thanks to being the proud owner of a dog and children – but generally, each day takes its own course. My days now revolve around alternating dog play, kids play and hasty lunches with my partner, with Zoom calls and a sea of emails.
  7. Because of the total lack of work-life balance, I find myself losing my temper more often. You’re in the middle of an important work call, and the kids come running in; you’re concentrating deeply on a report that needs writing, and the dog starts whining for his dinner; you’re gearing up for a client keynote presentation, and your partner asks you to go to the shop to buy milk 🙄 You know the drill.
  8. When you work, eat, sleep and exercise within the same four walls, you learn to create a new balance. The constant interruptions and loss of routine demand a new way of thinking. You learn to just roll with it. You’d have thought having children and a dog would have done wonders for my patience and tolerance levels...
  9. I’d love to say that I’ve acquired some new skills during lockdown. I tried to learn a new language for six months and gave up when I still couldn’t speak a word of it. I thought about writing a new book and using my cross-trainer every day - but thinking about it was as far as I got. So if you’re looking for a smug, self-congratulatory tale of how the pandemic allowed me to become a better version of myself, you won’t find it here. I can’t even claim to have turned my hand to banana bread baking. No, I’m still very much a Netflix-watching pizza-eating couch potato.
  10. On the plus side, I’ve finally discovered the reason for my laziness. I have books by the dozen on my Kindle and bookshelves, but I haven’t read a single one of them. Why? Because I read on-screen news reports, articles, white papers, research documents and blogs all day, every day. In other words, I read the equivalent of a book a day but in the form of a hundred different articles. Devouring an actual book now presents a new challenge.
  11. Most importantly, I’ve missed my friends and family a lot during this period, along with the travel I used to enjoy so frequently. I find myself picking up the phone more often to people I might normally talk to far less - I’ve even dabbled with video calls 😳 So actually, I feel much closer to my family and friends than I’ve ever been thanks to the fact that I can’t see them face-to-face.

Thank god for the internet, eh?

Oh sh*t, there goes my broadband again.

Time for some self-prescribed anger management (aka, taking the dog for a walk in this lovely British drizzle we’ve suddenly become accustomed to).

This World Mental Health Day falls on 10th October. 2020 has been tough for all of us - whether you had a pre-existing mental health condition that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic, or you’ve struggled to come to terms with the ‘new normal’. If you’re looking for inspiration for keeping on top of your mental health, or just want a friendly face to chat to, get the support you need from Mind charity.

 Chris Skinner
About the author

Chris Skinner

As well as being a Non-Executive Director at 11:FS, Chris is an advisor on special projects drawing on a wealth of industry expertise and connections across the globe.