I can remember last March and wondering how long this would go on for, maybe a few weeks or worst case into the summer. Who would have thought 16 months later that Covid would still dominate our everyday lives!
I consider myself to be extremely fortunate working for Britvic. Throughout the pandemic I have remained employed, on full pay and able to work from the safety of my home. I know so many other people have not had that privilege and I remind myself of that every day. The support from Britvic has been brilliant, from the technology side of things through to the emotional support and engagement activity. In some ways I feel far more connected than ever and yet in other ways more isolated. What do I mean by that? I would describe myself as a late adopter of MS Teams, I have always been someone that loves to meet and talk to people face to face. Having that taken away overnight was a huge change in my life and I am thankful for the ability to keep connected through Teams, Zoom etc. It has allowed me to stay and feel connected to the people I work with on a day-to-day basis. It has allowed me to be more productive, saved travel time and expense, so some real positives. The downside is when it pops on LinkedIn that someone you know has left and you never had a chance to have a farewell lunch or chat by the coffee machine. So, while I feel more connected to my immediate circle, I feel far more isolated from those I would bump into in the hub or walking from the car park. Usually when you are off for a holiday you come back into work and there is a transition back in, sharing of stories, what I have missed and even some gossip. Over the last year it’s been a case of turning on the laptop and jumping back into it. I have found that an uncomfortable feeling and at times one of loneliness.
I went into Breakspear Park a couple of weeks ago for the first time. I was nervous (not sure why) and it was surreal at first. Seeing friends for the first time in over a year was fantastic, I loved it. I drove home feeling lifted by the experience and plan to go in more frequently. I don’t know what lies ahead of us over the next year, there will be more bumps along the way and I do believe the mass return to work will have its issues – coordinating diaries to be in on the same day as colleagues as an example. While I am double vaccinated and therefore well protected, I recognise others may not be able to have the protection, they may have relatives who are vulnerable, or they may face personal anxiety about the return to work. For anyone that suffers from anxiety, I know from personal experience that logic and rational thought aren’t always that easy to achieve.
I am looking forward to seeing more people, more often but I want to play my part in making it a safe and enjoyable experience for all of us. Finally, thanks to Britvic and everyone I know for making the last year as safe and reassuring an experience as it could be – I am truly grateful for that.