The Coronavirus outbreak swept us all off our feet and pretty much overnight we needed to change the way we interact with each other in shops, at work and even at home. Adjusting to new circumstances is always difficult and this was no different – especially whilst such sad news was being announced daily of people getting ill and the nation being in crisis.
Among other things, the way we worked changed massively. Millions of people switched to working from home remotely, which for some people – including myself – this was a new experience and I was quite apprehensive at first, especially as everything needed to be arranged within hours. Over a hundred concerns were on my mind when leaving the Simply Lunch building on 23rd March including not knowing when I would next see the factory and my colleagues again.
The first few days were extremely challenging. I am sure many people felt the same, trying to comprehend what was happening, what the world was coming to. The updates on the number of people affected by the virus were too depressing to think about and everything else going on did not seem relevant. I am very grateful that I was working through that time but did face some professional challenges of my own. I had to focus on taking care of our customers, all while learning the new ways of living. Working from home, managing the team based at their own homes, communicating in any other way than face to face - this was all a different reality. Even though experienced in such tough times, knowing I am developing professionally gave me the all-needed hope for a better tomorrow. And professional development has never been more accessible, with so many online trainings and webinars happening. Also, as an individual I have developed in some aspects – appreciated the importance of compassion, kindness, effective communication with colleagues but also members of my household (first and foremost – listening, as I have always been more of a talker), patience (those queues whilst getting your groceries!) and so much more. I have also discovered quite a few pieces of my furniture make a good temporary office!
When the long-awaited ease of restrictions was announced by the government, to be honest, I was happy but at the same time worried. I was happy to get back some sense of normality but concerned about my own safety and of those around me. On my first day back to the office I had those long-forgotten ‘back to school’ butterflies in my stomach. Once again, I was trying to figure out what was happening around me. I pretty much knew what to expect, as I was kept up to date with any changes happening in the factory and the offices, but it is one thing to know and another to experience. Many of the precautions were taken already by the time I started working from home in March, but it still I felt like I was facing the unknown. As it turned out, my worries were not needed. I knew what to do, and whilst in doubt, I could always ask my colleagues around me. The procedures were clear and important signs were displayed. I felt sentimental disinfecting my desk before sitting at it for the first time in quite a while! The first day was quite an experience, getting used to the buzz of the office all over again. But it felt good. I did not realise how much I missed it until I got it back!
I am looking forward to taking further steps towards ‘normality’, but still trying to remember that the world might never be the same again. Every time I hear from a customer that is back trading again, I am so happy for them as I know they get to experience the same thrill of things finally getting back to how they were before. I cannot wait to have all my colleagues back - many of them are still on furlough, half of my team included. Keeping in mind the experiences I have gone through myself; I know they will need a lot of support when returning to work and I will be here for them as a manager, as a colleague and also as a friend, helping them get back to the old but improved routines to provide the best service possible to our customers.
Customer Service Manager
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