I hope you’re well, and you and your family are staying safe?
Can you believe it’s 10 months since we first met? If I’m honest, it was the first time I’ve ever heard of you. I thought you were something new, created for the unprecedented times. (Yes, I’m sick of that phrase too, but what else do I call it?) You were called a temporary leave for employees due to economic conditions or society as a whole. However, it does not feel short-term now.
It’s been 43 weeks since I’ve been in the office, aside from the quick dashes in to collect files, paperwork or post. Initially, I missed doing the usual 8am-4pm ritual… arrive at the office, fire up the laptop to see if anything is pressing, organise my to-do list and get on with the day.
From the end of March until August, I didn’t’ work at all. My days were “filled” with housework, gardening and cooking. Thanks to the incredible weather we had (one of the best things that happened in 2020, I could walk, cycle and explore my local area. Since August, I have been on flexible-furlough and working 16 hours a week, from home.
So, Furlough, while there are certainly perks to working at home, I thought I’d inform you about some things I miss from the office. Aside from the routine, wearing office-appropriate clothing and having a dedicated workspace;
I usually work in the Cardiff hotel, but even if I’m in one of the others, 10am is breakfast time. The team gathers together, and we have breakfast. Fruit and yoghurt, cereals, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage toasties or a full English – you could have something different every day. It was the time to catch up with my colleagues on their evening – what did they watch on TV and what mischief their children go up to? Plus, hear what they have planned for the weekend, and the general chit chat.
I miss whinging about how things could be improved, the colleague not pulling their weight, working with other people’s timelines and workloads, and waiting on PO’s or contracts to be signed. As well as bickering about who’s turn it is to do the tea round.
Birthdays and Celebrations
Birthdays, promotions and other celebrations mean two things; cake or drinks. I’m well up for both! I miss being able to take 10 minutes to spend time with colleagues and have a good time. A large slice of cake or a glass of Prosecco after work is the time out with my teammates I enjoy most.
Hustle and Bustle
Where I sit, in the management office, it is actually relatively quiet. My other colleagues are not always at their desk; some work from home for the day, are at another hotel, or out at meetings. However, it doesn’t stop the background noise – keyboards tapping, pens clicking, phones ringing and conversations. I also miss the distractions; other colleagues coming into the office looking for staff members and asking questions.
Our relationships aren’t the same at the moment. We speak mostly on email, with the occasional Zoom meeting. I miss office pranks and jokes, socialisation, and light-hearted conversations. It used to be a relief from any stress or pressure or a welcome distraction.
When we are together, we can collectively and creatively motivate each other. In the office, there’s that sense of working as one. Ideas bounce off each other, evolve, and they become something to get excited about. Working remotely is isolating from the business. Now, it’s hard to tell what or how my co-workers are doing and can feel disconnected from them.
Who, am I kidding? I don’t miss the commute! There’s nothing worse than sitting in the car for longer than necessary, especially if there is a bump that stalls the traffic. The things I miss from my commute are the scenery, listening to the BBC1 breakfast show with Greg James on the radio or catching up with my favourite podcasts, reciting my positive affirmations and organising my mind for the day ahead.
So, Furlough, I’m writing to you today to say we need to break up.
Furlough, we’re in it together until at least the 30th April 2021, and then what? Will I be going back to work full time? I worry that the travel, tourism and hospitality – the industry that I love – will not be the same. We need people to travel for business and leisure. More than anything, we need conferences, events and weddings to take place. Without public confidence, it may mean that hours are drastically reduced, or that redundancies will be made.
You’ll never know the extent of my appreciation for the security you have given me. Even on the reduced wage of 80%, I know I can pay my mortgage and put food on the table. It has been a comfort, and a massive weight off my shoulders. Furlough, you have been the friend that’s been there throughout the pandemic.
But I have had enough now. I need to actually see the hotels that I work for. I want to be greeted by the Reception team as I enter the building. I would like to chat with the food and beverage staff, and even hear new dish ideas from the Chef’s – and drool over the food leaving the kitchen. I want the corridors to be teaming with couples and families excited to explore the area. I need to see people in suits ready for a day of learning or information sharing at their conference, and even guests dressed up to the nine’s for a wedding day or a party.
Thank you, Furlough, for everything you have done, but it is time to return to normal. Please?
I wish you all the best, and here’s to a positive future,