Shabnam Ali-Khan: Has anyone else lost their mojo?

In this article, Shabnam Ali-Khan, Senior Associate in the Enfranchisement team at Russell-Cooke looks at why returning to offices will evoke different emotions for people across the sector and how we can find the best way to work going forwards.

Shabnam Ali-Khan: Has anyone else lost their mojo?

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When we entered the national lockdown over a year ago it was scary and exciting for me. At the beginning and for quite a while working from home was great. I enjoyed having extra time in bed and was so happy not to have the long commute. I was really enjoying extra time with my hubby and being able to have dinner together most evenings (as he was not able to go to work because of the lockdown). A simple thing that makes such a big difference. Importantly, I was going for walks almost every day and really appreciating our beautiful local park (the Queen has been there!).

Although there was a part of me that was a little unsettled, feeling in limbo land. Not knowing how long this would go on for. For the most part I was motivated and enjoyed the quietness. Going for a walk was like being in a non-scary version of 28 Days Later (without Cillian Murphy sadly). I managed to see some friends when restrictions were eased last summer and preferred it! It was less busy and you got table service! Is it strange to say I miss the first lockdown! It encouraged me to slow down and be more mindful. I was regularly meditating for a few months. It also encouraged a sense of detachment in me. I began to realise I did not need as much as I thought I did and was moving towards a simpler life.

However, I am now at a point where I have been struggling on and off over the last few weeks. I suffer from migraines anyway which I get from time to time. Working from home and very little time off has exacerbated these I think. My workspace is also my living room so it is really hard to properly switch off at the end of the day. There is a part of me that is looking forward to physically going back to the office and having that human interaction. Although the work-life balance for me will never be the same again and I think that we need to embrace remote working, my ideal balance would be working from home part of the week and going in some days. I think this would work for me mentally and motivationally. Another reason for this change is the lack of a break, like a proper break. I am so looking forward to just having a few days off and going away. Somewhere in the UK would be fantastic.

As we are set to return to the office soon many people will feel anxious about the journey on public transport and anxious about being around people. However, for many people it will be a welcome return to some normality. Although we will definitely see a sea change in the way we work. Many employers are carrying out agile working surveys amongst their staff to assess the differing needs. It is important to discuss your own individual needs with your employer and ensure you exercise self-care and know when to take a break. One of the downsides of working from home is the risk of isolation and becoming overwhelmed when things get too much. I have found with my team regular Zoom catch ups and a WhatsApp group have been a crucial part of checking on each other. Remember you are not alone.

I am both anxious and excited about restrictions easing over the next few weeks. One of the things I am most looking forward to is hugs. So, watch out!