365 Days Later

It was on Monday 16th March 2020 that I turned up to work to find a company-wide email telling me that I should start working from home. The mail had been sent on the Sunday which is why I hadn’t seen it before I reached the office. It was surprising, though, just how many people had been looking at their email over the weekend and, consequently, had known to stay at home. The following day, Belgium formed a temporary government which promptly placed the country in lockdown.

That Monday was, for me, the moment that the Coronavirus became real. Obviously, I had been aware of it and had been following the news but, until this point, the crisis had not had any direct impact on me or those around me so it had all felt a bit abstract.

I have been intending to post something to mark the date for a few days, but when I came to write this I found that I really didn’t have much to say. There are several reasons for this, but a major one is that being stuck at home hasn’t really been too hard on me.

It helps of course that I am something of an introvert and am quite happy to see no-one but my immediate family for, well, for a year. Living in the middle of nowhere has also been surprisingly helpful as I have been able, throughout the pandemic, to find some very pleasant places to walk all of which are very close to home. This has extended to the kids as well and, even with various activities cancelled, local clubs and groups have managed to both organise online activities and provide relevant resources and suggestions.

Financially, we are among the 71% of Belgians that are doing fine. Luxuries are largely reduced to pizza and DVDs and, while I do miss meals out and trips to the cinema, the absence of these is not much of a hardship. And this sums up much of the lockdown period for me; there have been plenty of minor irritations, but nothing devastating.

I realise that we have been lucky, and that many people have had a far harder time of this pandemic than we have, and I am certainly looking forward to receiving the vaccine and finally seeing an end to the crisis. It’s going to be a while yet, though, with the Flemish Health Minister promising 11th July as the date by which everyone in Flanders having received their first jab. As long as the ordered vaccines all turn up on time. Being neither a front-line worker or in any risk group I imagine I will be close to the back of that particular queue so we’re not making any summer holiday commitments just yet.

I haven’t renewed my rail pass either. I don’t need it if I’m working from home and have seen no indication from my employer that they have any plan to reopen the office any time soon. I can’t say I’m at all unhappy about this; working from home has freed up a huge amount of time for me and it has become very apparent to all just how unnecessary a physical office actually is. Ideally, I would go into work for one or two days a week and stay at home for the rest. We shall have to see how things go.

It’s not over yet, but the end is in sight and we can start looking forward again to a post-pandemic world. Hang in there, wherever you are, and here’s looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel.

7 thoughts on “365 Days Later

  1. Glad to hear that you are enjoying life at home Paul. I’m an introvert too and I felt so much more comfortable out of an office which was why I went freelance 30 years ago. It will be interesting to see how it goes for you 12 months from here. Best wishes to you and your family

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    1. Some reversion to normality would be nice — and I do like going out for dinner — but I am in no great rush to go back into the office and it has been very rare that I have felt that being able to have a face to face conversation would be helpful. It will be interesting to see how things progress from here.

      And best wishes to you and yours 🙂

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  2. Same here, we’re happy left to our own devices, though both working part time in health care services so not working from home. We’ve had to cancel two trips to other countries, and we miss our grandkids and dinners out, so will be glad when that gets resolved.

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    1. We agreed quite early on that traveling abroad was something we wouldn’t even attempt, which meant no family visits either. Even now, we’re not promising anything until we know where we are.

      Restaurants are possibly opening here in May. If they do, we’ll definitely be going out for dinner 😉

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  3. Introverts of the world, unite! This is a rallying cry that would also suit me well, and which would result, at best, in a poorly attended protest rally.
    Thinking beyond the extravagance of a physical office, I wonder what future effects this might have on public transportation and the commercial real estate market. You see, Paul? Being introverts may result in increased thinking; something for which introverts are well suited.
    Here’s hoping you and yours will stay safe.

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    1. Introverts of the world, isolate! 😉

      I don’t know about public transport — even if fewer people need it, it will still be needed — but I can certainly see firms looking to reduce the amount of office space they have. Why pay for something that has been shown to be not needed?

      It will be interesting to see the direction things take once we finally emerge from this pandemic, but I will be very happy to continue working mainly from home.

      You stay safe as well 🙂

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