The last year has been tough, there’s no getting around that, but hasn’t all been gloom. Not by a long shot. When the world does start going back towards “normal”, there are plenty of things we’re excited to take with us.
We came up with 12 things we liked from the last year that we want to stick around after lockdown. Lockdown Legacies, if you’ll excuse us blatantly trying to coin a phrase!
A quick note
Before we go into our list, we should acknowledge that it’s heavily influenced by our own world. We know that workers in retail, healthcare, logistics, and many other industries are doing the same work as before (if not more), but without their social lives for rest and relaxation.
We’re grateful for everything they’ve done, and we acknowledge that some of the benefits we mention here have been propped up by our essential workers.
1. Work from home is here to stay
After years and years of arguing over the benefits and drawbacks of remote working, within a month we proved it was possible.
It won’t be credible for an empathetic business to tell their staff they have to be in the office 40 hours a week to be productive in the future.
Combined with some businesses looking to save costs on office space over the coming years, we expect the benefits of work from home to stick around, even if it’s only two or three days a week.
Having access to remote working brings a raft of benefits we’d like to keep, that we’ll go into here.
2. Formal office wear is out
We asked when the last time our team saw a tie in real life was, and the only answer we got was a bus driver.
After a year of kids, pets, and tracky bottoms on display during conference calls, we really don’t think we’ll be rushing back into formal office clothes when we can meet up in-person. We really don’t want to, either!
3. We can put more faith in our staff
Appreciate Business, like a lot of businesses, found themselves in a suddenly-digital world last March.
In tackling the new obstacles that presented, staff have shown themselves to be impressively flexible and creative problem-solvers.
When we talk to clients, we hear the same stories about their staff, too. It gives businesses confidence and optimism to know that their staff can be trusted to meet and overcome challenges in the future.
It lets businesses believe their workforce can do more than they thought was possible before 2020.
You can read a bit more here about how one of our clients in the care home sector dealt with those challenges, and how we helped them reward their impressive staff.
They didn’t do it alone, though – the difficulties of 2020-21 also brought them closer through collaboration.
4. We built stronger connections to each other
None of us could have made it through the last year on our own. Whether it’s personally or professionally, we all had to turn to someone for leg-up to get by.
Helping each other through a difficult year has brought staff closer together. We’ve noticed it internally, and it’s one of the themes we see when catching up with clients – their teams are more close-knit than ever, even when they’re this far apart.
We look forward to taking those stronger bonds with us when the offices start opening again.
5. Creative employee recognition
With face-to-face interaction out the window, and employees digging deep to keep the wheels turning while the world changes around them, companies have had to get creative to recognise great work.
As an added complication, not everyone is in the daily mix right now – some staff are on furlough.
Recognising and engaging them all at once, while they deal with very different daily challenges, is a task in its own right.
But overcoming that challenge gave us all a blueprint for more effective, creative employee recognition in the future. Our client Hobbycraft shared a great example of this, using Valentine’s Day to spread the love to their staff:
“We wanted an incentive that would work remotely for those working from home as well as still being accessible for furloughed colleagues. We emailed out to all our employees, and asked them to send in nominations.
“The Friday before Valentine’s Day, the People team played cupid and shared these anonymously to everyone. We added Love2Shop rewards as an extra thank you from senior management, and this also encouraged colleagues to send in their nominations.
“It has been a tough start to 2021 and we wanted to give our colleagues chance to connect with each other. This incentive has also given our teams chance to reflect on how much they miss seeing their workmates, as well as showing each other how much they appreciate each other’s support over this challenging time.
“We may be apart, but we are still united. The feedback we have had from everyone especially those who had just read their valentines mail was very heart felt and it went down well.”
– Emma Pickworth, People Administrator, Hobbycraft
6. No more daily commutes
The working day ends when the laptop screen closes, not an hour or two later when you’re walking through the door.
You can get outside and enjoy the last few rays of sunshine with the dog, or just enjoy being able to turn off at the end of the day without worrying about traffic jams and train times.
Even better, you’re not stuck in the middle of town or on a business park for your lunch, either. You’re at home, where you can run an errand, take the dog for a walk, exercise, or just relax for a bit.
7. Home offices are healthier
Plenty of workers started off their April sat on piano stools and beanbags, having thrown together a makeshift home office over a weekend.
Now, they’re riding high on plush ergonomic office chairs, with a head-height monitor and a wrist-rest for their keyboard.
Some employers have even used our digital reward codes to make sure their staff could get the chairs, laptop risers, keyboards and monitors they need.
In the future this will make it easier, and healthier, to blend home working and office working without having to make any compromises on physical health.
8. We can balance kids, pets, and work
After spending a year working with children and pets in the house, we’ve picked up the skills to balance time for both.
We’ve also learned how important they are for our own wellbeing, which lets us prioritise and protect time with them. We hope we keep the healthier attitude towards managing children, pets, and work in the future.
9. Public spaces are more public
As our public spaces have been lifelines to our sanity, they’ve given us two massive benefits.
One is being able to enjoy more nature.
That might be seeing your local wildlife get a bit bolder without so many cars around, watching the bird feeder in your garden, or just taking more time to appreciate how lucky we are to have beautifully maintained public parks.
We’ve also had the chance to get to know the people around us. Rather than rushing off to work, or to a social event, we’ve had the chance to stop and talk to the people we recognise from the neighbourhood.
One person from our marketing team admitted they hadn’t spoken to their next-door neighbour in eight years before March 2020.
We hope we can hang on to both of those benefits long after we’re out of national restrictions.
10. We found new ways to stay in touch with family
Many people have been talking to their family more over the last year. To do that, we’ve helped our older generations catch up on new technology so they can stay connected.
Those new tech skills will stay after lockdown, and we hope the connection to our family does, too.
11. We have new hobbies and passions
With pubs, clubs and restaurants shut, we’ve had to find new distractions to keep us occupied (and sane) while we knock about the house.
We’re looking forward to the budding painters, bakers, writers, gardeners, runners, readers and more keep their new hobbies going when they can share their new passions with like-minded people in-person.
12. No one feels guilty about self-care
Throughout the stress of the last year, there have been times when we all just needed to stop. Whether it’s an hour, an afternoon, a day, or more, we’ve needed a bit of time to make sure we take care of ourselves.
Because of the exceptional circumstances, no one has questioned the need for their colleagues or employees when taking that time.
We’re hoping that this carries on when we’re back to normal. With colleagues, managers and companies recognising that everyone needs judgement-free time and space for self-care now and then.
What do you think?
Is there anything you’d like to hang on to when we start getting back towards normal life? We’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment here, or pop over to our LinkedIn and let us know.