Yelly Writes

On Lockdowns and Furloughs

The beginning of the end started on 13 March 2020.

The situation relating to coronavirus hit the UK shores and it started to escalate (in late February, our building management team announced that one of the tenants tested positive for COVID-19 and, understandably, everyone was worried). The government started encouraging people to work from home if and when they can to avoid being in contact with the general public, to thin out the number of people out. At Drinkaware, we had decided that Friday, 13 March, was going to be the day that we were going to test our office systems and see if we were going to be capable of working from home. The week before that, we were told that we should start bringing our laptops home and our CEO, Finance Director and HR Manager were having daily catch ups and weekly catch ups with the committee that deals with risk. Our directors were expecting the government to suddenly declare a shutdown where people would not be allowed to travel. At the time, it was only a possibility. It didn’t actually dawn on me that the day was a Friday and the date was the 13th. Not that I’m THAT superstitious. It was just a bit ominous.

So we all came back to work on the Monday, the 16th. It was pretty much business as usual, except that of course the situation relating to the coronavirus infection was worsening as the government started learning more about COVID-19. I had a long list of things I wanted to finish, and as the day went on, as usual, I managed to tick some things off the list and some, I planned to finish the next day because I got carried away with other projects.

That evening though, we got a message from our CEO via WhatsApp and by email to say that the office was going to be closed for the foreseeable future. I felt a slight measure of relief because I was fully intending to leave my laptop at work and I had decided to bring my laptop anyway. After reading the email, I decided to still go to the office the following day because I needed to finish off a few things and accept the deliveries that were meant to be arriving on the Tuesday. Also, there was the office fridge that needed clearing of all perishables.

I managed to get a lot of things done and I went home slightly earlier than usual. I was fully intending, as I’d discussed with one of my line managers and my HR manager, to return to the office either on the Thursday or the Friday. To collect post, to check on the fridge and the milk that was left there. I also meant to start the asset tagging because there wouldn’t be anyone at work and I could go in, get my tags printed, zip through the office with my stickers and clipboard and go home and finish my other telephone calls and emails at home. That didn’t happen though. My bosses advised me to stay home, mostly because they were worried about me and how quick I seemed to be catching viruses (I’m diabetic and I’ve found that since I’ve moved here, I’ve been so sickly).

So for the next few weeks after that day, I worked from home. Prior to the pandemic, we’d all been flat out, everyone was busy doing something for some project. The office buzzed with activity and we were all putting in long hours working on various things. During a meeting our leadership team agreed that we would all go on a week-long holiday after Easter Monday. So we were all working towards that REALLY long weekend. It was a 10-day weekend (of course the extra 4 days came out of our holiday allowance, but no one objected)!

Whilst we all worked from home, it became more and more apparent that things wouldn’t be business as usual because we were cutting down on expenditure, writing to our suppliers saying we would be delaying payment for some big-ticket items, etc. People started to worry that we would lose our jobs (it didn’t help that there were several businesses that folded even before we started working from home because of the reduction of customers).

On Monday, 6 April, after an emergency board meeting on the weekend, we were advised, during our Start of the Week meeting, that the board has had to make the difficult decision to furlough some of the staff, in order to protect the trust and prevent job loss. Our board wanted to avoid having to to make any member of staff redundant. The government had already announced the Job Retention Scheme. So our directors had to make the difficult calls to half of the office, to tell members of staff that they would have to be furloughed. Our super HR manager prepared an FAQs document for all our questions and she let everyone have her number so that if we were worried about anything and needed to talk.

I can’t say I was surprised that I got the furlough call. I mean, apart from being EA to the CEO and the Finance Director, I was also office manager. How do you work as an office manager without an office to manage? Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my job. I love my bosses. I love our senior leadership team and I love my colleagues. Working for Drinkaware is more pleasure and privilege than a job. Mostly because the environment is so different. It’s so collaborative, and there is genuine love for everyone. It’s nice when the environment is like that; less territorial, more inclusive.

To be fair, I am actually better off being on furlough, even if my salary is about a fifth less. Factoring in how astronomic train fares now are, even with 20% less, I’m still much better.

I can’t deny that I am worried about the future, that I am thinking about whether there will be any redundancies. However, right now, I am confident that we will be told with enough notice, if this was the case. Because the communication lines are always open at Drinkaware. Whatever the future holds, right now, I am best placed staying in, away from the general public.

Yelly Writes

Prayer for concentration at work

I have always wanted to write more about my faith and my feelings.  Because if you can’t be yourself and say what you want on your blog, where else can you (provided that what you post isn’t illegal or offensive to other people’s civil liberties – I’d like to say it’s exercising responsible freedom of speech!) be?

I saw a comment on one of my old blogs, talking about how a prayer that I posted about concentration at work helped them (they were looking for a prayer for concentration and apparently my prayer was easily modified for purpose).

I thought I’d share it with y’all because I know that it was something I came across as well and that I modified according to what I needed.  I’m hoping that it helps someone who comes across this blog post too!  In this world of instants, there are so many distractions.  Sometimes it helps to just close one’s eyes and focus and draw into oneself and centre oneself by praying.

I hope this helps!

Dear Father,

I draw near You to seek Your help.  I have the assurance that You love me so very much. Lord, the Scripture says that You love the prosperity of Your children.  You know the importance of being able to concentrate at work.  Father, bless me with Your guidance and let me work on my things to do list properly.  Lord, I confess that I get distracted easily; I have more interest in less important things instead of what is urgent in my in-tray.

Please forgive me and gird me with You grace (I love the word gird Lord, because it makes me feel like I am going to battle, and oh I do love a battle!  See Lord, I am digressing, yet again!) and strength so that I concentrate in my work.  Without Your help I cannot achieve any success Lord!

Please help me to overcome all my weaknesses and strengthen my mind. Take full control of my wandering thoughts and give me Your wisdom and knowledge. Let me shine at work, Heavenly Father and let me be a blessing to to everyone. I lift all this up in Jesus’ name.  

Amen.

Yelly Writes

No is really okay

No is such a difficult thing to say…at least for people like me who are people pleasers.  To me saying no meant I was letting people down, I was being selfish, I was being mean and I was being unhelpful.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about work, and learn about my weaknesses and how I can improve my performance at work.  It’s not necessarily a new epiphany, but it has actually hit home that I have to stop saying yes to everyone asking me to do something for them.  I have to choose the situations where I say yes.  Steve Jobs said it best when he said that “It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on things that are more important.”

For a while, I lost sight of what I should have thought was important to me.  In my deep desire to be helpful to everyone, I allowed myself to take on too much.  I stopped taking care of me because I was too busy trying to be everything to everyone.  But the universe does look after you.  I realised, in the nick of time, that this was a habit that I had to stop.  I had to concentrate on me, what I thought was important.  I realised that if I took care of myself, and what I needed to do first, I would be in a better position to help others.

I also learned that saying no can also be a wonderful teaching mechanism, especially at work.  I find it hard to refuse anyone who asks for help, especially in circumstances where I know I can.  I’ve learned, though, that sometimes, it’s not always up to you to help.  Sometimes you have to step aside so that you allow people to do their job.  Sometimes, even if it takes longer to teach people than to do the job yourself, it is still best to teach them how to do the task instead of taking the task away from them.  If you take the task away, you take away the learning opportunity.

It still pains me to say no.  But I’m working on putting myself first.  I wasn’t raised to think that it was okay to take care of Number One first – Number One being myself.  But now I’m beginning to realise that there is wisdom in putting oneself first.

Saying no is good.  It gives you the opportunity to say yes to something even better.

sayno-stephencovey

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Yelly Writes

Sunday night thoughts

So tomorrow is another Monday, one that is likely to be manic.  I know I should make sure I look forward to things, and I am.  Honestly.  But I am also being realistic.

I am (very truly) thankful for each morning.  I am thankful for each workday because I can meet my step goal for the day.  I have a few things already on my to-do list but that’s okay.  Every morning is new and filled with exciting possibilities!

Waterloo mosaics to the trains

Yelly Snaps

Clean desk Friday…NOT!

At work, on Fridays, we have an unspoken rule that when we leave the office at the end of the day, we leave our desk as bare as possible so that the cleaners can dust our desks.  I try to make sure most of my desk is clear so that they can spray Pledge and dust when they do our area.  Not that they actually dust.  But I live in hope.  One day, I shall come to work and my desk will have the lingering smell Pledge and I will plonk myself on my office chair and smile.

So this weekend will be my birthday…my 40th birthday.  Looking at my desk today, I think making sure I adhere to the Clean Desk Friday policy will be a bit of a challenge and will require an extra 15 minutes of clearing up!

CleanDeskFriday

Yelly Writes

My mugshot

After weeks of inwardly wincing every time I took my mug out of the ground floor kitchen dishwasher (where all pretty cups go to crumble) and heaving sighs of relief, the worst has happened.  My cup has got a chip.

I mostly wash my cup before I leave the office.  I make sure it’s clean so I don’t have to put my dishwasher.  I’ve seen so many cups and coffee mugs get chipped in that monstrous thing.  The one time I needed to rush out of the office to catch a train, I forget to wash my cup.  A well-meaning soul put my lovely cup in the office monster and when I came back to work yesterday, I found my cup stuffed in the back of the cupboard with a humdinger of a chip!

I can’t help but mourn my beautiful mug.  It was the perfect shape to cup so that I could warm my frozen hands when the office was cold.  It carried just enough coffee or tea for me not to feel shortchanged when I drained the last drops of my drink.  It kept the drink warm (miraculously) but you didn’t burn your lips when you sipped from it whilst the drink was still piping hot (I still marvel at the seemingly miraculous insulation!).  I don’t think Starbucks make that mug anymore…at least I can’t find it a Starbucks near me anyway.

chippedmug

After the appropriate grieving period, I’m going to have to find my next perfect cup.