As lockdown eases we can begin to start looking to the future and thinking about how working dads can shape it
I found myself complaining about the state of the calendar the other day. Then I stopped. Because I wasn’t complaining that the calendar was empty. Rather that the kids needed to be ferried between activities. Meal times were going to be disjointed all week. Basically, it was like old times. I had nothing to complain about. It’s glorious.
I suspect my mood has been overwhelmingly influenced by the fact I heard on the 8am news on Monday that 44-year-olds could now get a vaccine. That I had both appointments booked by 9am that morning. And by Wednesday lunchtime I’d had my first shot of Moderna. (And convinced the nurse administering the jab to invest in my book Dads Don’t Babysit too because she asked me what I do, I told her about workingdads.co.uk and she went off about how her fiancé rates his job as more important than hers. Which is bold given she’s administering the inoculations that are going to save the world.)
But aside from my own vaccine status there’s definitely something in the air.
There’s two steps still to take on the lockdown roadmap, yet momentum is building. Sports are back on. Kids clubs are meeting again. Offices are reopening. And most of all, as the vaccine rollout continues it feels increasingly like there’s a future to look forward to for the first time in over a year.
Inevitably, work is a part of that future. The main topic of conversation among the parents collecting their kids from sports and clubs is if and when they’ll go back to an office or place of work.
There’s undoubtedly an appetite for working away from home. I’ve worked from home almost exclusively for the last five years. The pandemic experience of enforced work from home has even me twitching a bit and pining for some workplace interaction, small talk with colleagues.
But few employees, or employers, want to turn the clock back completely.
The last year has shown that, managed correctly, home working can increase productivity, lower costs and, crucially, improve loyalty and happiness all round. And we know folk want it. Dads consistently say they are going to request flexible working when the work from home order is lifted.
Now’s the time. There’s a future on the horizon. And it’s in our hands to shape it.
There’s nothing worse than seeing something attractive on the horizon only for it to turn out to be a mirage. To have hope dashed. We learned that back in January when schools were shut at short notice and hopes that the turn of the calendar meant 2021 was going to be an improvement on the previous year were comprehensively undone.
Hope drives change. But it doesn’t make change. That’s in our hands as humans, as actors, as dads.
So as optimism begins to stir it’s important that we seize the moment, define the workplace culture we want, and get those flexible applications in now to ensure that high hopes translate into a genuinely and tangibly better future.