2020 was an interesting year in which nothing happened as we expected but which gave us the opportunity to pause and focus on what really matters to us. I think it is good to look back to what we have learnt and what could be the new goals for 2021.
Last year forced us to work from home, something that most of us didn’t want as we knew we would miss a lot seeing our colleagues in-person and the casual chats. Companies didn’t want it either as they thought productivity would decrease.
The first months were a bit challenging as the technologies and environments were not ready (do you remember the problems connecting to the intranet or to Webex calls?), and our houses were not prepared for it (so hard to buy office chairs and other stuff at the beginning) but eventually we got there.
Productivity got impacted as first as we had to re-adjust to the new situation but I think good professionals are driven and responsible, and soon we caught up and managed to perform as before. And companies are benefiting from the new situation and reducing office costs, which were quite pricey in big cities.
One of the challenges is the life-work balance, as it is hard to disconnect when you live and work at the same place, as it is too easy to keep working a few more hours or pick the laptop on the weekends to finish some tasks. I hope you are managing to do it and find some rituals that work for you like going for a walk after work to disconnect and enjoy the rest of the evening.
It has been quite challenging for those of us living abroad, as many flights got cancelled and we didn’t have the chance to see our families as much as we wanted, not to mention those who have lost loved ones. However, having some extra time on the weekend has allowed us to contact them more on Skype social networks (WhatsApp, Instagram), and thanks to remote working many professionals have had the opportunity to go back to their counties and be closer to their families.
Some of us had a quite active social life and loved living in big cities like London where there were dozens of events every day in which we could meet people from diverse backgrounds and share hobbies or learn about trends in our industry. All of that suddenly stopped happening in person and they were organised online, but it was not the same as we were a bit tired of all the online work meetings, and the experience was not the same as didn’t have casual chats with people sitting next to us and didn’t have the usual chat after the event.
I think it has been good in a way as it has made going back to our old friendships and spend quality time with them, organising barbecues or meals together when restrictions allowed it or just chatting on WhatsApp regularly with those who live far from us, and I find a lot better to have a bunch of regular friends than meeting a lot of new people all the time.
Related to the above, it has been hard to meet people in person as the usual events got cancelled (parties, concerts…) and it is not very appealing to start talking with someone wearing a face mask. I hope you have been with your partners or had the chance to meet new people online. I tried it but ended up meeting one of my neighbours and spending a great time with her, one never knows where or when is going to find love
Studies and talks
We had some extra time as we didn’t have to spend hours in commuting, what we could spend on learning something new. I learnt about DevOps and Kafka and about non-work related stuff. I hope you also had the chance to learn something new.
I guess most of us tried to improve our learning skills and learn new hobbies like yoga that allowed us to handle better the stress of our new lives. We have to practice many of them at home but I hope you had the chance to some outdoor activities like going for long walks to parks or the countryside.
What may happen in 2021?
It looks as the vaccines are being applied fast, so hopefully, in a few months, we will be able to go back to a new “normal” life, although nobody knows what it will look like. We are social by nature so I expect we will want to see again our friends and families and to meet new people, but I think the dynamics will be different.
As companies are reducing offices to save money in rent, I imagine we will go to office only a few days per week or per month, mostly for meetings, and some people will permanently work from home. And probably will be looking more to outsource or to hire contractors working online from other countries
Goal for 2021
I hope we can grow in all the areas mentioned above, although it is ok if we don’t, the main thing is to keep mentally healthy and be there for those who need us. Sometimes we have focused in our lives too much on a certain area (work, love, hobbies…) and our lives got a bit unbalanced, so I think it is now a good moment to think what we are doing on all of them and achieve a healthy balance.
I hope you and your loved ones are well. Feel free to reach out in the comments if you need some support or want me to write about something (technical, management, …) and will try to do it. Take care!