I am currently on lockdown in France, where things are a bit stricter than in the UK. You can only leave your house for 1 of 4 reasons, and you have to have a signed, dated and timed piece of paper with you which states where you live and why you are outside.
Luckily, food shopping is one of them and the shops are full of food – and toilet rolls!
You are also allowed an hour’s exercise a day within a kilometre of your house. Location location, location has never been so important!
Whatever your specific circumstances, however, when it comes to work, virtual is now the new normal – and I reckon there are elements of virtual working that will stay with us forever.
I am grateful that I am in a better position than many small businesses, every day I am at my computer coaching clients to appear natural in a virtual meeting or deliver key company messages via video. My clients this week are working with me from England, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium.
However, that is really just an extension of what normally happens on a day-to-day basis. The big change has come with non-work activities which suddenly include:
- Virtual French lessons with a teacher in France;
- Virtual Pilates with a coach in Spain ( I’m a beginner and, as outdoor exercise is restricted, thought I would take the opportunity to learn something new);
- Virtual medical sessions to sort out my plantar fasciitis – don’t worry, it’s not serious and not contagious;
- Virtual acupuncture sessions in England;
- Not to mention virtual family conversations and friendships, and I don’t mean Facebook, posts!
In these times of struggle, I am focussing on the benefits of our new virtual world in terms of time management and our carbon footprint.
Speaking with some Swiss educators, who have put all their courses on line, we discussed many benefits – including how their students helped them with setting up the technology and how they have had to rethink their content and look at solutions in a new way.
It reminded me of when the Open University first broadcast on British TV in 1971. Students fuelled with coffee waited up to the small hours to watch their lectures. Today, according to their website, the channel receives between 150 and 300 million views a year in the UK alone.
In other words, however cooped up we may feel indoors right now, the shift to virtual is full of opportunity – for better collaboration, for swifter working and for bigger audiences. That’s why I think some elements of this period in our working lives will stay with us for good.
If you want to brush up on your virtual skills and make the most of the moment, shouldn’t we be talking?