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Lockdown Learnings: What the pandemic has taught us about work, life, and everything in between

The pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on our personal and professional lives, and will do for a long time to come. Over the last few months, we’ve adapted to working from home, learned to fill spare time with new hobbies, and adjusted long held daily routines to fit around evolving government regulations. Three months after the UK’s lockdown began, daily commutes and offices full of colleagues are beginning to feel like distant memories.

It’s been difficult to adapt, but we’ve learned some lessons along the way, and many of us have discovered new coping mechanisms, talents and hobbies that wouldn’t have arisen without the lockdown. With this in mind, the Babel team has shared what they have learned during lockdown, and some advice on how to make the most of a new way of life.

Katie Finn, Associate Director:

“I’ve learned how resilient humans are. Every part of our lives changed overnight. We found ourselves banned from socialising, barred from travel and our work disrupted. And we adapted. Pub meetups were replaced by Zoom quizzes, gym sessions became virtual yoga classes, and our desk swapped for our dining table. It might not have been ideal, but we found new solutions to help us through these tough times. So, as we look ahead to an uncertain future, it’s comforting to know just how tough we are.”

Narelle Morrison, COO:

“Try not to worry about the things that are out of your control. Instead turn your attention to what you can have a direct positive influence on, whether that be around health, relationships, work, home life or projects. Importantly, start something new; it is always a fantastic distraction.”

Sarah Alonze, Director:

“Previously, I only used to work from home if I needed to attend an appointment locally or receive a delivery. I’m easily distracted, with devices and home comforts enticing me away from my laptop screen. However, with COVID-19 forcing us into a new normal, I’ve learned to better manage my time and stay focused on the task at hand. This does mean taking regular breaks when I do feel like I’m getting distracted – a quick walk around the block or a tea break – but it ultimately means I’m more focused on each task I’m faced with. Five minutes away from the screen resets my brain and concentration span. I’ve surprised myself at how quickly I can turn a quality piece of content around, despite the comfiness of my sofa!”

Simon Coughlin, Campaign Director:

“For me, one of the biggest impacts of the pandemic has been on our relationships with other people. Whether personal or professional, the frequency and method with which we interact with others has been forced to change in ways none of us could have predicted. From Zoom calls with grandparents to socially distant chats in the street with passing friends, the virus has led us to re-think the dynamic of all our relationships. Nowhere more so than in the world of PR agencies, where relationships with clients are crucial. Thankfully our shift to remote working has been widely successful. We’ve continued to have regular dialogue with clients, both on email, mobile and via platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype. The benefit of all these platforms is the ability to see people. I’ve learned that even when remote working, the option of face-to-face communication is invaluable.”

Matt Silver, Campaign Director:

“I’ve learned that I work much better in an office environment, particularly where longer form writing tasks are concerned (which seems very different to most people). When working from home, I’ve found making the space as office-like as possible helps, but also breaking my day into smaller chunks, interspersed with an errand (making a coffee, or having just moved house, building small items of furniture) stops the mind switching off and helps to keep me motivated when sitting in the house all day.”

Declan Bradshaw, Account Manager:

“The lockdown has really highlighted the importance of relationships. Like all industries, some in the media have been placed on furlough schemes which means editorial teams are further stretched than they already were. It only takes a glance on Twitter to see journalists sharing screenshots of their overflowing email inboxes. To have even a small chance of securing coverage, you need to have established relationships with journalists that trust what you’re contacting them about is worth their time. I think the lockdown has highlighted more than ever the PR agencies that resort to mass batch-and-blast pitching, and how that doesn’t work. I’ve also been brushing up on my Spanish (although it’s not going brilliantly).”

Susie Wyeth, Director:

“Initially I was worried about doing anything much away from my ‘workspace’ but I have found that moving around the house, when the kids are out, or taking a call while on a walk are actually good for keeping the creativity flowing

“At home, it has been a huge challenge to juggle the kids (aged three and five) while home working. But the biggest lesson I have learned is to stop everything else and just enjoy some of the extra time with them. Every day I take regular breaks to do an activity with them and flex work around making the most of the extra time we have together.”

Jen Atkinson, Account Manager:

“For me, I hope the legacy of lockdown is in the way we consume. With restrictions in place, we were only allowed to purchase essential items, and we were encouraged to shop local to support smaller businesses. I hope this ‘essential’ mindset moves forward with us, and we adopt a more ‘local’ way of life permanently.”


Jessie Beach-Thomas, Consultant

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