From working in a study to travelling the country

From working in a study to travelling the country

Friday 18th June 2021
Subir Gupta

So as lock down eases, I found myself travelling the country once again this month.

For most of my working life, I've travelled for my job; I'm used to early starts, grabbing a coffee and a quick snack at the motorway services and overnight stays, but having adjusted to working from my study for the last 12 months, I have to admit going to my first appointment did feel very surreal.

As I write, the morning newspapers are talking about working from home and quote that a quarter of employees worked from home in 2020. This does not surprise me, because as soon as I hit the road, I could not help but notice the reduced traffic volumes during what would normally be the morning rush hour.

I've not ventured very far from my home study during the pandemic (too busy working!), so this was my first proper journey for work in a long while and it was very strange not to see the 'normal' queues of cars. I'm used to (pre-COVID) rush hour traffic and endless traffic jams, but not this time. It was different this time.

I took my normal route and duly stopped off at the motorway service station, and while they were familiar sites, places I had visited hundreds of times before, it all somehow felt different. But in addition to the empty roads and the deserted service station, I think it was everything, from wearing a mask to the sanitiser units, and simply seeing less people in public - it was a startling reminder to me of the new life people have been leading.

When I finally reached my first appointment after 4.5 hours of travel, I also could not help but think I was more productive at home. I never thought I would ever say that!

With Freedom Day now delayed by 4 weeks until 21st July, when hopefully things go back to 'normal', I find myself thinking "do I need to be back on the road as much I was pre-COVID?".

What I've learnt during the pandemic, is that online meetings do have their place. The communication / video technologies now available, and that we've all become accustomed to using, offer a smarter way of working. They have proved to help increase business productivity and improve our customer experience - simply because I'm more available to help rather than just being in a car, sat in a traffic jam for hours on end.

Don't get me wrong, I love being out and about, it's what I thrive on; but the pandemic has shown to me, who was the biggest sceptic at first, that there is a place for online and face-to-face customer communications. Hopefully, the future will create a healthy balance of both.