Now that’s a big word to start a written piece but please bear with me on this.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

And I begin as I should — the work being done by people in healthcare and medicine, cleaning and sanitation, science and research, emergency and response services, utilities and infrastructure, food and supply, online and telecoms, deliveries and transport, charities and civic offices; is epic and loved and admired and you are ALL our heroes and will be forevermore.

And we MUST #stayhomestaysafe to help you all.

Back to ‘other work’ outside of this now ‘key worker’ category.

I’m not about to do any ‘predictions’ of the new work order post-pandemic. YET we have to and that will come soon — we hope. I’m setting up some stuff with some people but all in good time. I have no doubts others will be doing this too and somehow, we’ll join forces when the time is right.

This is about work for RIGHT NOW that we — those in self-imposed social distancing measures — are doing. Certainly what I’m doing anyway and is meant to be a reflection, and a deduction of what I’m seeing work become in this period of containment, fighting and — as my previous post said — solidarity.

Right so what’s my work become?

Waking welcomes.

I get up, kinda normal time. Although, my goodness, does the time of day not matter a fig? Routines are important to some but that just doesn’t seem relevant to now. Luckily, being an independent has meant that I am used to a bit of ‘work’ here and there during the week or weekend. And what — to many of us — is work now? Just another day without the definition of routines, if we’re in our homes on lockdown for weeks to come (especially with most schools now shut).

Once I’m up there are the normal personal hygiene things and then I message people. Not everyone in the contacts list but some. I say some. Those closest to you. I don't hit Robin Dunbar’s famous 150 social connections for sure but a good few.

I check-in — how are you? What’s the plan today? Anything you need/want from me?

I then check-in more formally with the wonderful team of people (Broch, Catalina, Crystal, Emily, Kirsten, Jessica and now Matteo and Barbara) on our daily-check in thread on our PTHR Slack channel. We’ve always done this since becoming 7 people (thanks to Broch’s suggestion she and I do this when we were just 2). We look ahead to work and increasingly share some stories of us in our lives not just on our to-do list.

I then check social media feeds (carefully filtered) and get up to speed on the latest shocks, positives and facts for that hour.

I end up having to respond, message and chat to people who’ve picked up my shares or whatever during the day or previously.

New connections are coming thick and fast. What a strange phrase. It isn’t thick and fast, they’re more rapid and warm. Some really open, kind and positive connections.

I then deal with a few sales messages. Still, people are saying ‘we can do xxx’ for you’. And I’m polite back to those people but really? I know we’re all trying to keep our livelihoods going but I wouldn’t need your services BC-19 (Before COVID-19)let alone now.

I then check social feeds and even BC-19, I would reply to all social messages. And even more so now. It’s not the time to ignore those comments people have taken time to craft in response to what you’ve posted.

Afternoon application

I then have a series of calls, emails and stuff that still feels like ‘work’ BC-19, but it’s different. Different in that there’s no tinge of guilt that all the ‘social’ messaging I did before settling into some ‘deep work’, now I take all that social messaging as part OF my work.

In between, I’m still doing project work for clients as much as I can. As I said in the #heartbreak post, most of my next quarter work just collapsed in days during our peak COVID-19 responses.

And latterly I’m having conversations, designing, researching and building this ‘never the same again’ what next? stuff.

OK, so indulge me a little here.

What IS next for this stuff?

Please read this post here by the outstanding, warm and humanly Neil Usher.

A little extract that caught me on this marvellous piece of future scaping:

Imagine with the present evacuation of the workplace that on returning, the slate will be clean. The day we tentatively slip through the revolving door that once called on every last ounce of resilience, something has changed. Well, everything, has changed.

Its day one. Again.

and this

It’s a message from the CEO saying she’s glad I’m back and hope I liked the few changes they made while the place was empty. I didn’t even know the CEO knew me. I’m asked for feedback, positive and negative, which I gladly give. A bit of both. I tell her like most of it, except the filament lightbulbs. I’m honest because I’ve been asked to be.

Naturally, I check my phone out of habit after the school meeting. It’s been set to sleep. Funny, I don’t recall doing that. But there’s no e-mail or message alerts. I shake it. Must have frozen. But it hasn’t.

All quiet. The slate. Clean.

Imagine that world. We can make it like this.

I have NO IDEA what the future political, economic, social, transport or healthcare systems will be BC-19 — I’m not clever enough to hold those thoughts.

Yuval Noah Harari is though. Here’s his epic piece from the which is behind their paywall (!) but in essence talks to the need to have ‘Under the Skin Surveillance’ to help detect and isolate people who may be carrying viruses and an agreed Global Plan on this. It’s controversial but probably necessary. Big tech and big world plans. I love his work but I think there’s more to it than this. Libertarians will rightly baulk at this yet there’s a time for that argument and that might not be now.

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) might collectively have some answers. Here’s their take on things. Similar. Scrutiny to create certainty. I don’t like how the intrusiveness feels but these are extraordinary times.

McKinsey & Co consulting have started to look into advanced industry technologies here though I cringed a bit at the ‘marketing and sales’ section. I’d prefer enlightened choices about services in need. That’s what we should be focusing on. Not upselling allowing people to choose optimal things they need not be sold to. But that debate will rage on in the face of survival of companies desperate to keep revenue streams flowing of any sort; and those who are generally doing good and need to survive because their offer is a good one for people and the world to repair and recover.

So back to work. Our work of now should be the work of surviving compassionately and inclusively with the current challenges we have AND the future that needs to be designed and developed, tested and delivered for the challenges of NEXT.

Now and next.

We do need to be serious about this because lives are at stake. And we owe it to our heroes on the frontline of health services and more. We can have our moments of fun, light relief and joy through our screens and calls. Yet we shouldn’t ever be dour on someone trying to make sure we retain our focus on the things that will save lives.

The ‘bulldog’ spirit of laughing it off or making fun of someone who is anxious and serious about things is bullshit not bulldog. We’re all trying to cope. Being a comedian will be fine when people have stopped dying because of this. Choose your memes and fun-time shares with dignity and respect.

The video of hospital workers dancing to Olly Murs at the end of their shift is THE most allowable show of light-hearted relief. If you’re at home, hunkered down because your sales role is no longer needed, keep quiet about your boredom and celebrate their moments of bonding and escapism.

Flippancy can be disrespectful to those putting their lives on the line but this is people right in the thick of it, coping with it, and bonding and loving each other through this shared celebration and moment of release.

So be wise and yes, humourous. We all need an uplifting laugh but in context.

So part of our work is showing respect, encouraging and supporting those key workers and connecting, caring and showing love to those who matter. That used to be fitted in (if at all) when work had a break.

Now our work WON’T have a break because it’s less about ‘on the clock’ work; it is about working to get through this. There is no clock. You do what you need to do to get through this and it’s ALL work. Work to make your food stretch; work to do the garden and stay out of public places. Work to decorate your flat a bit. Work to video chat to those who you love and make sure the contact is kept and the spirits uplifted.

So we’re all working on this. Except for those assholes who refuse to give up their selfish indulgences like needless trips to the shops; needless group jogging trips or needless parties in the house thinking that’s OK social distancing. It’s not. Stop it.

Instead, work on supporting others from a distance through screens and speakers. The closest you get to people (except those who share your home as part of your social distancing) is to be on screen and in headphones.

So the next (Post-COVID-19), is occupying me a lot but not at the detriment of now. This next is a pleasant and even mildly exciting focal point to keep the feeling of momentum, progress, salvation, and as I said before reinvention, not recovery.

So keep working. And of course have your Netflix, Xbox, Book-reading, Baking, Painting, Gardening ‘work’. You’ll need that too and it’s our way of being in a more relaxed state through these tough times.

We’ve got to work harder than we’ve ever done before. This time, not for some shitty corporate gain, but for our lives, those of others and what’s to come.

Lives and livelihoods will be defined by what we all do in the coming weeks.

Work isn’t what it used to be.

Work may never be what it used to be.

Work is what we need to do for each other and those we love.

The final words from the wonderful poet Khalil Gibran:

CEO PTHR |2x TEDx speaker | Author: Transformational HR + The Energized Workplace | HR Most Influential Thinker 2017-2019 | Soulboy + Northampton Town fan