I am spending a lot of my day diligently getting on with normal things. Yesterday I went to the local Tesco to buy groceries, which I never do during the week (?!).
Like you, I’ve spent a lot of time in the last couple of weeks, on calls and every incarnation of video conferencing platform talking to people. What has become evident is the degree to which people are just getting on with things. One client has, in 10 days flat, taken 2, 500 office-based staff and got them fully functioning from home: phones, PCs, networking – the lot. Another person I spoke to yesterday, was busy laminating social distancing notices for the factory that was going to re-open at the first moment possible to resume production – having been forced into administration in January, their recent buyer was evidently eager to get the lines going as soon as legally possible.
Talking of legal, a senior legal eagle in The City, on another call, was juggling his young family and his departmental responsibilities with just a thin door between the two worlds.
Almost every call I have been on has featured the sights and sounds of real life, personal life, messy shelves, smart living room interiors, the odd terrace and plenty of bird song: chickens and seagulls are the loudest conference call crashers, by far. Closely followed by ducks.
We, you, me – we’re getting on with it and doing well. But if there’s one thing that really is missing, one thing that makes all this rather hard, it’s not the lack of ideas for how to cope or how to resolve a technical problem. No, the bit that we’re all missing is ‘normal’. And it’s tiring to manufacture normal every day when normal has gone - for now. It’s tiring if you’re on your own, it’s tiring with children around. It’s tiring in a flat or in a house. ‘Normal’ is whatever you usually do and see. What you usually eat and who you talk to, hug, kiss, shake hands with, glare at, ignore and focus upon. Our daily sights, sounds, smells and encounters have all changed, reduced or disappeared. What you eat, drink, touch and wear have all changed.
Creating the replacements and making ourselves feel OK are feats of human adaptability. It’s the best of us, swinging into action. But there’s one thing that we can’t do for ourselves. One thing that we need people for: company. We are all exploring ways to keep each other company even though we can't be together. How are you doing it? How are you replacing the time around people? How are you replacing 'normal'?
Now more than ever we'd love to hear your ideas so that we can share them and respond.