During June and July 2020 BBC radio 4 broadcast a series of episodes on the theme of Rethink; how the world should change after the coronavirus pandemic. These covered a fascinating range of topics presented by an eclectic list of people; from the Dalai Lama on ancient wisdom, to Andy Murray on equality in sport; and from Jarvis Cocker on environmental revolution, to Pope Francis on poverty.
I very much hope that some of the ways of doing things which we’ve all become accustomed to during the weirdness of 2020 will stick around. The biggest one of these for me has been a slower pace of life; less dashing around at a ridiculous pace without having time to rest, reflect, or just do nothing. Sometimes we rush to a meeting where we discuss things which could have easily been discussed remotely, and often driving one person in a car, or crammed onto a busy train, both of which are rubbish on several levels.
And yet, the most significant thing I’ve missed is contact with people; face to face, hand to hand. I am a naturally tactile person and want to make a physical connection with people around me (unless they are strangers on a packed tube train or aeroplane!). A brief and gentle grip of someone’s arm, a shake of hands with a new acquaintance. Not being able to do this has been hard, not to mention the hugging and kissing of closer friends and family, particularly through illness and bereavement, sadness and worry. In a professional context getting to know new clients, consultants and contractors has suffered from lack of face to face communication. Where I have been to sites under construction it has been good to meet the people building our schemes and of course seeing the work up close. I just cannot get used to not shaking hands with people and I look forward to the day when that part of old normal becomes a part of new normal.