I cannot believe that I am writing this, but it's one year since the first lockdown and I cannot quite believe it. I am sure we will all be writing our one year on lockdown blogs, but I am in shock that we have had a whole year of this madness.
When I wandered round the BEC on that final day, checking doors and windows and then setting the alarm, I honestly thought that it would be for a couple of weeks. How naïve of me and the rest of the UK, I am sure.
We have been in and out of the BEC three times in this year. We reopened on 22nd February, and hopefully that will be the last time we close. I know we did the right thing in January despite not being forced to; because we all felt we had a duty to our staff and wanted to support our borough to recover as it had the worst numbers of COVID-19 in London. The great news is, this has drastically improved and I would like to think that the closure of our large public buildings helped a little bit.
One memory from the early COVID-19 days still makes me smile. We all started to get worried about this virus at the end of January and implemented a regime of hand sanitizer and constant hand washing. This led to the team all having very dry hands, so someone popped to Boots and bought some hand cream. Three days later, the team came to see me to ask if orange skin was a symptom of the virus. I looked at their palms and despite different ethnicities they all had orange palms like Oompah Loompahs from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I looked up the symptoms but could not see this on the list, as I wandered into the reception to update them all, spotting the offending hand cream on the desk, which yes you have guessed turned out to be self-tan…mystery solved!
Oh, it still makes me smile!!
So back to my reflections. In the last year, I have had far too many conversations about cancelled weddings, holidays, and the lack of contact with our nearest and dearest and several friends became grandparents in lockdown and still have not had much contact with their grandchildren other than via a video call. Where would we be without technology? It really has been a lifeline in these strange times, despite being on it all day the irony of then speaking to your family in the evening. It is starting to get a little wearing now and I am counting down the sleeps to Easter Sunday, so I can see my family outside of course!
It has been over a year since we held a face-to-face event at the BEC, and we are missing having visitors to our buildings, it was our 5th birthday a few weeks ago, but sadly all celebrations are postponed until further notice. However, we have continued to deliver all our programmes online which have been incredibly successful, and we are having the conversation that we may never go back to face to face delivery of some elements. Potentially the future is a blended offer with face-to-face delivery and online support. Online delivery has enabled us to widen our reach and our audience has grown significantly.
One thing I know we will continue to do as a business community, is think very carefully about whether there is a need for a face-to-face meeting or whether it can be done online. It makes me shudder when I think of the number of wasted hours travelling back and forth across London for meetings. Like many, I am certainly enjoying flexible working, a mixture of the office and home working, which has improved my productivity and ability to concentrate.
If you are thinking about returning to a base, then check out our office time share offer which might the solution you can find it here at https://beccic.co.uk/our-spaces/
We have the road map which so far appears to be working. Let us hope it continues and we can all finally close the door on this year and start getting our lives in to a pattern that becomes our new normal…. Things have changed but life goes on! And if we can help, we will.