Bethan Blakeley reflects on the current situation

From those of you that may be used to reading my blogs, it will come as no shock to you that this piece will be at best, passionately opinionated, at worst, ranty. Apologies in advance.

You’ll have heard and read countless pieces from every company under the sun about their COVID-19 procedures. Some are claiming it’s business as usual – some are lying.

Although the phrase “the new normal” is being bandied around like the newest buzzword; I think we can all agree there is no “normal” about this situation. Some of us are running two offices, a school, and a creche from one kitchen. Some of us are in total lockdown, and having to rely on other people to bring us food to survive. Some of us are being furloughed, or are finding ourselves moving from an office job to work on supermarket tills. Some of us are living with and supporting NHS frontline staff as they face the horror of their “new normal” day in day out. Some of us are the NHS frontline staff.

There’s a reason people keep using “unprecedented” to describe where we’re at – nobody has done this before. Nobody knows what will happen, how people will behave, how the world will look afterwards. Nobody knows the best way to react, how we “should” go about things, how we should or shouldn’t feel.

I’ve read posts on various social media sites from people who are feeling the pressure to reply to emails immediately, so their boss knows they’re working instead of watching Netflix. People worrying that it’s taking them a bit longer to do everyday tasks because their concentration isn’t as good as it might normally be, and whether to lie on their timesheets about it.

On the other hand, I’ve seen out of office messages that clearly say “I’m going to be struggling with childcare today, my 2-year-old is ill, if you need an immediate response contact xx”. I’ve seen blogs that call out for collaboration: “let’s have a chat, because chances are, I know something in this field that could help you, and you know something about that field that could help me”.

This, in my opinion, is what we need to be focussing on. People. Each other. Competitors, clients, suppliers, colleagues – we’re all in the same boat. Let’s pull together, and get through this, as an industry. Let’s lean on each other, ask for help, share ideas. Let’s let ourselves to be human – likelihood is, you will have a bad day every now and again. Allow it. I found myself discussing statistical models with my cats yesterday – just roll with it. (Spoiler alert – they only care if you have food, generally).

With this in mind – I am happy to chat, to anyone, about anything. In fact, I’d say it’s probably a skill of mine. I can chat crap for Wales (not England, though). Give me a shout – my cats would be glad of the break.

*Insert reminder about hand washing here*

This article was first published by Research Live on 9th April 2020.