Britain recently marked a year since the first lockdown, when many of London’s office workers shelved their Oyster card and swapped the office for their living room. Love Success asked one of our recent candidates about his experiences over the last 12 months. This is his story about how he adapted and how his journey in office support jobs in London has changed.
I wasn’t expecting the first lockdown. There were rumours in the office where I worked, near Waterloo, but I don’t think any of us genuinely thought it would happen. At that time, I was working as an office manager. However, the Prime Minister told us we all had to stay home, so we packed up our laptops, and off we went. We had no inkling of how long it would last.
To begin with, it all felt very surreal. My home internet was glitchy, and the nature of my role made it hard to adapt to being at home. Managing others was particularly hard — I’d never heard of Zoom before, let alone used it. Then there was the fear that we all felt. Some of my team were struggling with the situation, and I felt powerless to help. I had parents trying to work while their babies and children interrupted, young people getting isolated and depressed, and people worried about their loved ones. It was so hard for everyone. At the same time, though, there was still a real sense of camaraderie between us. We felt like we were in it together.
Then the first wave of furlough came and tore through the workplace culture. On the one hand, some of those who were furloughed were grateful for the glorious sunny days in their gardens. They were the baking, gardening, and learning-new-hobbies brigade. On the other hand, others were worried, bored, and frustrated. They were isolated at home with no work to focus on. Everyone was worried about money. Meanwhile, those who weren’t furloughed saw their workloads increase. They felt frustrated and put-upon too.
We had a brief respite during the summer when it looked like the business would weather the storm. People were brought back from furlough, and we even went back into the office, although not regularly.
But then autumn and winter hit. We lost three members of staff who had to take time off with Covid in just four weeks. The senior management team all took pay cuts. Morale fell through the floor. Those of us who weren’t furloughed would plod through Zoom calls with our cameras off, each fighting our own motivational battles. No one signed up for the after-work virtual social activities anymore.
And then came the news that the company wouldn’t survive…
We were all made redundant just before Christmas. There was no money for proper redundancy packages. It was horrible timing. News of overwhelmed hospitals made it clear that we wouldn’t be emerging from the current situation quickly.
I’d worked for the same company for seven years. I’d loved it there, but I had to look to the future. It was obvious that the jobs market would be dead over Christmas and January, so I decided to do some temp work before looking for a permanent role in the spring. I’ve now been temping since New Year, and it’s actually turned into a real blessing for me. It’s reminded me that my skills are good and that I can really add value, whoever I work for.
In February, I started looking for something more permanent, all the while still temping. More and more jobs were starting to be advertised. Last week, I was offered a new role working for a business that has thrived during the pandemic thanks to their virtual business model. I start with them soon.
It’s been an odd year that’s seen highs and lows, but now I feel excited about the future.
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