2020 certainly served up some challenging experiences.

Loss and isolation were key themes.  Far too many suffered the anxiety of redundancy, financial hardship, or the stress of being furloughed.

When I was at school, it never occurred to me that I might live through an era defining time in history, which at some point in the future will very probably be studied by my own children.

Returning to the office and just generally spending time (as well as enjoying the buzz and banter) with colleagues and clients cannot come soon enough.

For me, this homeworking lark, together with home-schooling and domestic duties, all while trying to achieve a steady internet connection, has certainly been an eye opener!  Having said that, on occasions the ability to work from home, away from the  hubbub of a busy office has also had its benefits.   And I really shouldn’t grumble; I’m very lucky to have a home and a job.

Getting to grips with communication technology has been a personal achievement, not that I didn’t already know that it existed, but its enforced use has, if not revolutionised, certainly changed how I work in a positive way from both a professional and environmental perspective.

Maintaining communication is hugely important – ‘It’s good to talk.’.  The main challenge for me and no doubt many others in 2020 was uncertainty and sharing my worries with others helped.  Professor Sarah Sharples, Chair of Human Factors at the University of Nottingham, says it is imperative for managers to have open and honest conversations that allow people to share their concerns without judgement or retribution. She believes “They need to express how they’re feeling and the anxieties they have” which includes consideration about to how staff feel about returning to work after a period of absence.

One positive outcome of the pandemic has been the recognition of the importance of mental health and getting people to talk about it.  So, make sure in 2021 you talk more and not just about work. Give colleagues the opportunity to get the worries and frustrations of all this disruption, as well as any anxieties about returning to work, off their chests without fear of criticism or concerns  that it could have a negative impact on them when things do return to normal.

My best wishes to you and yours for a what I hope will be a happy healthy and prosperous 2021.

And, if anyone fancies a virtual chat with a different face, I’m always available.