5 Reasons Why I Love Lockdown (and 5 Why I Don’t) Quarter 1 2021

By JOHN MCKNIGHT, Published in COVID-19 Observation

Carl Jung spoke of the duality of man, where two opposing thoughts could be held simultaneously. My feelings towards lockdown are definitely Jungian in nature.

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5 Reasons Why I Love Lockdown

1. Work at your own pace
Waking up as I wish, not exchanging hand gestures with fellow motorists during the drive to work, the flexibility to have a cup of tea with the family and so forth are all hugely cherished aspects of working from home.

2. Better coffee and snacks at home
If lockdown has taught me one thing, it is the number of steps from my desk to the fridge and your favourite coffee and snacks will always have a positive effect on your demeanour and, therefore, productivity.

3. Better internet
Internet connectivity has come a long way in the last few years, but online streaming has meant that our homes now have very fast access that does not have to be shared. Also, it is at your discretion as to how it is consumed, so there are no awkward conversations with IT about which sites you choose to visit.

4. Electronic document management
This is an example of how being "progressive" can, in fact, turn out to be a game-changer when circumstances change, as they did. I would hate to be with a firm that had not yet (or only partially) implemented electronic document management. With every document, in every file, just a click away, with multiple parties being able to work on the files simultaneously, EDM is a huge enabler of a practical remote working solution.

5.Teamwork
It has certainly been my experience that meetings are now a more orderly affair. No more whispered conversations in the corner, putting your hand up is quickly noted by the chair and voting is now a cinch. There is no doubt that meetings are more clinical and efficient. It is even possible to record them, which means that making lectures or client meetings a matter of record is quick and easy.

5 Reasons Why I Don't Love Lockdown

1. Work at your own pace
All creatures great and small thrive in rhythm and structure. Waking up when you wish, as opposed when you have to, rapidly gives rise to an indolent lifestyle where pyjamas can become the order of the day. Also, an hour or two in transit are important bookends to your day, and help to compartmentalise work and home life. In the absence of such structure, it is not unknown for Monday to Thursday to pass in a blur, resulting in a frantic Friday, such that my aggregate weekly output is equivalent to that of a mildly inept practitioner.

2. Better coffee and snacks at home
Two words: Lockdown Bod. Having your favourite snacks and drinks only a few steps away requires the discipline of Sparta, not to engage to a greater degree than one would otherwise. This, coupled with a more sedentary lifestyle, will doubtless manifest when it is time to don those works clothes again.

3. Better internet
Unless you have a generous uncapped internet contract, this of course will be a major disadvantage to working from home. Even with a more than adequate contract, however, I have had to compete for bandwidth with my family, who are binge watching The Queen's Gambit (or something equivalent). Credit where due, The Queen's Gambit is a brilliant series, but seeing your children lying in repose whilst you battle in a Teams meeting tends to make you feel somewhat checked.

4. Electronic document management
Local PC challenges, internet connectivity, load shedding, network issues and firewalls can all conspire to make you acutely aware of just how slender are the threads we hang by when it comes to remote file access. Brilliant when it works, the patience of Job required when it doesn't.

5. Teamwork
Am I the only one missing the esprit de corps that is just so effortless around the coffee machine, and with quick office visits? Not only was it useful from a professional point of view ("peer to peer consultation" is the billing code) but the casual contact and commonality was validating on some level. To a large extent, working in a silo has eroded this.

So, on balance, what can be said for remote working and lockdown? I will go back, come the time, but it will not be without a tinge of sadness for, as Jung himself said: "Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word 'happy' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness."

Prof. McKnight is a Partner of Spoor & Fisher.