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The Long Way Back. By the time this blog “hits the stands” or gets posted as the kids would say MIH will have been back in the office for almost 4 weeks. Admittedly this is a phased transition and we are having to adapt to a new normal but in the usual MIH way, we always try to ensure that we are ahead of the curve when considering our client’s needs.
The first question is obviously why did we need to come back, particularly when you set this against the backdrop of government advice to work from home where you can. As a company, we very much stand together and although all staff were “getting the job done and making it happen” it had become apparent that the “joie de vivre” that all MIHers bring to their work was beginning to dampen. Instead of the collegiate and collaborative attitude, MIH was faced with the feeling that the job had become just that – a job.
Although efforts were made via Zoom/Teams and every other social media platform, it was obvious to all of us that the missing link was actually that we were missing each other. As a close-knit team who spend the majority of the day bouncing off each other and ribbing each other, we suddenly had forgotten that team spirit. Moreover, when issues arose instead of shrugging these off, we were beginning to find that we were taking them personally and believing that even the most minor of infractions – a missed phone call or forgotten email was becoming paramount in our minds and causing panic.
With this in mind and as always cognisant of our clients who were now asking when we would be back to undertake what we consider to be the most important job of all – visit site – we made the difficult decision to re-open the office on 8h June.
Although it would seem that a return to the office would be easy, there were several hurdles we needed to climb including preparing a risk assessment, installing hand sanitisers, buying masks and gloves, taping up areas both up and downstairs to ensure that the 2m distance is maintained and Nicola’s personal favorite, putting up signs about washing your hands and how to wash them properly.
Unfortunately, we can’t remember the statistic of how many people don’t want their hands properly but know that it was much higher than expected. Probably the only thing that we didn’t have to do was teach our staff the words to Happy Birthday so that they could sing it twice. On a serious note, MIH thanks Nicola for being invaluable in making sure that we are all safe when we are in the office.
With all of the Health and Safety elements in hand, the next stage was to prepare a rota for all staff, which was no mean feat for Laurence bearing in mind that he had to organise an office of now 10 staff (welcome Holly) taking into account location, child care arrangements etc. In fact, for once the easiest person to manage was Sarah on the basis of her flexibility and after all, as the Boss and the chief coffee demanded, it was probably best not to include her in the rota. Especially since rather unsocially, we are unable to have a tea or toastie round.
With the Health and Safety complete and the rota agreed, MIH returned to the office on Monday 15th June with five of us spread across the two floors. After not seeing each other for over three months it was slightly strange to be in each other’s company again and the 2m distancing didn’t help. We also needed to get used to all being on the phone at the same time as some of us had been working in isolation at our respective homes with parents and children being shuffled out of rooms when on calls etc.
Thankfully over a week after our return, we are pleased to see that MIH is beginning to adjust to our new normal and that working the office doesn’t feel quite so alien. In fact, we would classify our return as something of an achievement with a slightly frenetic and warm atmosphere returning almost immediately. Something which we hope Holly will have noticed in her short tenure bearing in mind starting a new job when lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease. It has been quite strange for us to see someone in person that you have only met on screen, and we are sure that it has been just as odd for her to see us in the flesh.
As we write this the 2-meter rule has now been reduced to 1m and those who are heavily shielded will be able to meet bubbles outside the home from July. The loosening of these restrictions will mean that more of our team can return to the office at the same time – although we are hopeful that some will actually go on holiday and get something of a Summer holiday this year.
When re-reading this blog and reflecting on what the COVID-19 pandemic has meant, we take this opportunity to express our sympathies to those who lost family and friends during this sad time. We are also cognisant of those occasions that have been missed, special birthdays and anniversaries, and for some holidays of a lifetime which may seem frivolous in comparison to the lives lost but are still of consequence to those who have not been able to celebrate.
We look to the future with some trepidation but mainly hope for brighter skies and for the day that MIHers can all be together in one place and can share the congeniality that we pride ourselves on as a team, but perhaps most importantly when Sarah can have her coffee made.