The worst of times and the best of times

Phil Jackman, Dynamo Cyber Cluster Lead, 24th May 2021

This has been the worst of times and the best of times. This last year or so has been one of the strangest, difficult yet most interesting I have known in my lengthy career. Almost overnight the world of work was turned upside down and all the things that we have talked about in the tech world about being able to work remotely came true. Well, almost all.

Those who could moved to working from home, using a variety of video and web conferencing tools. At the last count I think I had nine different ones on my phone but that is the beauty of standards, there are always plenty to choose from.

I must admit that while I have been very comfortable WFH (mentally rather than physically as the sofa is not the best working environment) I have missed the people. Just being able to chat with colleagues over a cup of coffee, bouncing ideas around and chewing the cud is something that technology has not yet been able to replicate.

As an introvert, I like people but find being in amongst many tiring after a while, I particularly struggle with video conferencing. It is too intense, you are always in the middle of the action and, unless you turn your camera off, are always in view. After spending hours on screen I am literally exhausted and zoomed out.

Naturally I have been looking forward to being able to get back to some kind of normality and being able to see my colleagues in person. Yet as the opportunity is opening I find that I have mixed views. I now resent the wasted time commuting into town and worry that short punchy meetings will become protracted meanderings into the social lives and pastimes of those I work with.

I remind myself that humans are social animals and that businesses are built by people to sell stuff to other people. Social interaction is vital to our wellbeing and some degree of balance needs to be found.

Speaking to a colleague on the phone, he told me that he was never going back into the office. I think he meant never permanently and I suspect he is not alone. I’m still unsure. Where I work has never been as important to me as who I am working with and what I am doing.

I’m going to have to work hard, as I think many of us will, to find a way that suits me in the new and emerging paradigm.

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