Provided it proves possible to re-order our working lives around agreed weekly outputs rather than time spent at desk, it seems there are aspects of this new normal, these new routines we’ve established for ourselves, that we might not be ready to shrug off. Here are some of the ways our team would like things to change, or stay the same. 

1. Working & home schooling

A tall order and a fairly terrifying prospect for most CADA parents. And yet, for Associate Design Director Lynn, there are unexpected positives, including learning as a two-way process:

While it’s a major balancing act, and some days are utterly disastrous, I’m really enjoying spending so much ‘teaching’ time with my girls and they’re getting to experience what I do too. I hope this gives them future memories and thought fodder for their own working lives.

At home with the kids.

Parents longing for the comforting rhythm of the school run don’t necessarily want to return to the relentless grind of breakfast and after school clubs, at least not every day, particularly now that we’ve shown how valuable the time usually dedicated to commuting can be. 

2. Foodies unite

Food and drink were popular topics. Senior Designers Polly and Idris are both enjoying having time to eat breakfast. 

Choosing what to eat at each meal on an ad hoc basis, instead of batch cooking a vegetarian chilli on a Monday evening in order to eat it ALL [SODDING] WEEK is making a big difference to Polly, in line with the 38% of Britons surveyed by YouGov who say they are scratch cooking more at the moment. 

Polly cooking up a storm for lunch.

3. Supporting independents 

Polly and Associate Design Director Caroline both want to carry on supporting the local food retailers that they now have time to visit – from butchers and fishmongers to greengrocers and Caroline’s corner shop selling ‘the best sliced tiger/ giraffe bread: always fresh, so much better than the supermarket’ – after lockdown.

Tom outside local grocer, Village Grocer, in Peckham.

4. Fitness first 

Head of New Business and Client Services Dan’s simple pleasure is cycling at 8am and being able to start work before 9am, again because he’s not commuting and doesn’t need to rise with the lark in order to squeeze exercise into a hectic working day. 

  • Dan’s seen his first ever kingfisher while out on the bike as well as something that was either a stoat or a weasel. The YouGov poll suggests 27% of Britons have spotted more wildlife since lockdown.
  • Finance Director Ashley values being able to go out for a 12k run with his wife and dogs before work, and being home for dinner with the family at 7pm instead of finding it in the microwave! 
  • Polly is circuit training in the park instead of queuing to squeeze onto the Northern Line 
  • Marketing and New Business Manager Sarah McKenna, is participating in twice-weekly, garden-based virtual group exercise classes via Facebook Live. 
  • Lynn is taking her family off for walks in the local woods.
  • Caroline has discovered a lake to visit that’s just ten minutes away on foot.  
Ashley on another marathon run.

5. Getting prioritise straight

Responses on working patterns show that, to quote Marketing Manager Tom, 9-5 inflexible working days, a relic of Victorian industry, might not be good for human beings or productivity in the post-industrial 21st century

  • Idris has shifted his working day to suit his most productive times – he’d like to carry on starting earlier rather than arriving at the office at about 9:30am, if the trains permit it
  • Studio Administrator Kez has devised a routine that suits her, starting with tea in the garden while she runs through emails.
  • Designer Jeremy can now play his guitar at lunchtime.
Jezz shredding on his guitar.

Ultimately, more control over how each of us orders our time, and a less frenetic pace, has resulted in valuable benefits on our team’s health and wellbeing.

This isn’t to dismiss the challenges, anxieties and frustrations occasioned by sudden and all-encompassing professional and personal lifestyle change. 

Kez enjoying her daily morning brew alfresco.

But it’s notable that now that willingly-made commitments have been forcibly cancelled, we confess that our time and energy are given back to us, and we feel re-energized, rather than disappointed. 

As and when restrictions on returning to offices and studios are lifted, there is likely to be an appetite for working practices that integrate more naturally with this new understanding of what makes us all productive, purposeful and happy.  After all, that’s top priority for all of us. 

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