Updated: Feb 4
I’m not certain if it’s just me, but the first three weeks of 2022 haven’t felt like any start to a year that I’ve experienced before.
Having lived through the past twenty four months in a strange state of limbo, people seem to have a renewed sense of urgency to get back to something.
I don’t think we can call it a longing for normal, because normal doesn’t really exist anymore, and it might never again.
Certainly not the homogenous version of normal which led us to mindlessly repeat behaviours, irrespective of whether they served us well, either as individuals or collectively.
Now, on the days where I’m in central London, people seem to be moving with more purpose than before. Because if you’re being selective about when you’re working from an office, you’re more likely to make that time count.
And as you walk past shuttered department stores and vacant retail units, you start to realise that the pandemic has brought some things into focus. Like the real effects of shifting our behaviours to the online world.
I was with someone recently who was reflecting on the similarities between the last two years and what it must have been like to live through the Second World War. Not in terms of the severity of what was going on of course, but in the sense of its effect on people’s hope.
Because just when you think that the end is in sight, the pandemic throws us another curveball in the form of a new variant. And as the strategy around dealing with Covid shifts too, no one is too sure of what exactly they can be sure of anymore.
So it came as little surprise to me that even as 2022 was in its infancy, some well known names in the world of London residential agency were moving on from established companies, where in some instances they’d worked for decades. Instead they’re starting their own, eponymous businesses.
And it’s not just older, more established people either. There seems to be a shift amongst the younger generation too, who having cut their teeth at one of the big firms, are making the jump to smaller, more forward thinking businesses.
What seems to be playing out is a once in a generation shift from top down management, with its focus on shareholder value and C-suite remuneration, towards a more employee centric environment.
In the US, they refer to it as The Great Resignation. Because they like putting the word great in front of things which aren’t necessarily so. Like the Great Recession of 2008.
It’s a cultural shift, enabled by technology. Remote work is easier, and things like autonomy, flexibility, inclusion, purpose, and both mental and physical wellness are more important to employees than ever before.
Or maybe they’ve always been important. It just took a pandemic to come along before people were actually willing to resign from their well paying jobs in order to pursue them.
And I think it’s a change for the better. Because as individuals, we don’t really want to feel like we’re just another brick in the wall.
Things I’ve Been Inspired By This Week
In my last blog, I referenced Oliver Burkeman’s new Book, Four Thousand Weeks: Time & How To Use It. This week I started reading it.
“The day will never arrive when you finally have everything under control – when the flood of emails has been contained; when your to-do lists have stopped getting longer; when you’re meeting all your obligations at work and in your home life; when nobody’s angry with you for missing a deadline or dropping the ball; and when the fully optimised person you’ve become can turn, at long last, to the things life is really supposed to be about.
Let’s start by admitting defeat: none of this is ever going to happen.
But you know what? That’s excellent news”