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                                             New Experiences

Greetings dear friends & welcome to my world again this week. Today I want to begin with a confession. We are witnessing an unprecedented social experiment: & perhaps with the odd exception, a powerful way to experience unity in community. In my small world, whilst we are an essential business, we have been working from home as much as possible. However there are occasions when this is impractical, & accordingly we schedule separate times @ office.

I have a friend however who is a communications & engagement coordinator. Her two year old son I understand, has become a fixture in her daily Zoom meetings with colleagues, waving at them in his pyjamas. Before the lock-down, she worked in a small cubicle back @ the office. Now she is working from home, there is this softened, unfiltered, more honest version of herself she is getting to know. There is room to be forgiving & understanding with each other & ourselves, & it is because we have all had to juggle.

From what I can gather, a good number of those now working from home would prefer to continue doing so as much as possible after the lockdown finishes. It is easy to understand why. Many are spending less time on the road, especially in Auckland I suspect. A recent study I read somewhere suggested those who work from home are also more productive. They run less risk of being infected by colleagues & they probably have more time for fitness during the day.

Another study I read somewhere found satisfaction increased with each additional hour spent working remotely [although it stopped working after 15 hours of this routine]. The relevance of location appears to be happiness. Telecommuting is obviously difficult for those in manufacturing or service jobs. The healthcare heroes saving lives in the pandemic obviously cannot work from home. Nor can the frontline workers delivering goods or items to stores & homes. Or the various officials risking their lives to keep us all safe, like Ambulance & Police offices.

However in my research I noted problem-solving & creativity can suffer when workers are isolated. Such isolation can also lead to loneliness & boredom. Goodness, imaging also home-schooling whilst working could be problematic & very challenging. My guess, if one outcome of the pandemic makes thousands work from home for months or years instead of weeks, we may find our location is less relevant to our happiness than we thought. Introverts will be happier alone, however extroverts will miss interactions with colleagues.

And our work will still be work. If we found meaning in what we did before the pandemic, we will find meaning after. If we did not, we will not. The key to working from home then for a parent is finding a way of sectioning your children into a separate part of the house for those few hours where you really have to concentrate. Anticipating the inevitable moaning, whining & fighting is also recommended for the average working mother or father. Sadly, our children do not just curl up in our laps & go to sleep like some fur babies I’ve heard about.

Long story short: we all have to make do with a level of noise & distraction at the moment. But some of this will ease as children go back to school & commerce starts up again, taking a bigger portion of us out our front doors. But for those of us able to work from home there is no doubt the bulk of our workforce will be finally catching up with what has been happening in the digital world for some time.

A major advantage I have also been advised about the folks working from home ~ many have realised how much they had not actually been engaging with their children/families/significant others ~ we are so used to controlling them & co-habitating, it has given time to get to know them a bit better & have an opportunity as a relationship building exercise.

But we are still human &, as such, genuine human connection at work, no matter how it is achieved, will still be a critical part of the mix. Even if it is done staring into endless Zoom meetings, also trying to retain a semblance of real contact with the people who help make their existences more meaningful. 

I hope my comments each week are helpful dear readers; & again, provide just an opinion, from my world. Thank you for taking the time to be with me, I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson. With my best wishes, I look forward to connecting with you again soon.


Kenn Butler
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