Every day, OneVue managing director Connie Mckeage does her 10,000 steps first thing in the morning.
Sometimes it’s more - 15,000, 20,000 - but the ritual she’s started during lockdown remains the same. “I set out on the beach really early, as soon as I see light in the sky” she says, “take deep breaths and remind myself that nature is around us. We can find a quiet space. We all need that right now and we have to find that quiet space.”
This attitude can be traced back to Mckeage’s grandmother, who made a pie chart for her when she was growing up. The chart included relationships, friends, work and herself - her health and wellbeing. She believes it’s important to not just have “one pie” - but also to remember that even if you’re things are not going well in one area, you still have other pies to support you.
“Right now,” she says, “I think it’s always crucial to maintain a sense of perspective but never more so than right now. And part of that is ‘non-screen time’. It takes much more of an effort now that we’re all at home, so even if you need to be on a call, consider taking some calls on your phone, where you can take the call outside. A screen is often immobile; at least on the phone, you can walk around.
When it comes to relationships, Mckeage says COVID-19 has completely changed how we interact with the closest people in our lives. “Usually,” she says, “you spend some time apart. Now, the majority of the time, you’re with someone. How do you maintain space? How do you take time from each other? It increases the need for communication around boundaries and ‘alone time,’ because without that the situation becomes unnatural and unsustainable.”
As for friendships, Mckeage believes this is the area that or her has suffered the most. “Typically I’d be meeting up with them for a coffee or Skyping them,” she says. “But nowadays, I’m so sick of having been on the screen all day that the idea of taking a ‘non-essential call’ seems exhausting. So it would be interesting to ask yourself in your own pie chart which part of the pie suffered the most over this period. For me it’s definitely friendships.
Work hasn’t slowed down over the pandemic period - in fact, Mckeage says it’s intensified - but it’s still required a reimagining of what’s considered business as usual, and what’s possible in the future. “We always have to keep going and focus on the day-to-day,” she says, “but I think COVID has highlighted people’s ability to adapt to change.”
She continues: “I do believe work will never be the same when we return. In a way, this has been a great scaled experiment: if you’d asked people before this whether they thought they could 100% work from home, they’d have said, ‘No way, can’t do it, not possible.’ But guess what: it’s happened. I guess the disappointing thing about human nature is that unless change is thrust upon us, we tend to resist it. I think we can see now that change can happen, and we can make it happen more readily in the future without it being forced on us.”
Regardless of how work changes in the future, though, Mckeage wants to keep in mind that “pie chart” idea when lockdowns end. “I think it’s important for everyone to ask themselves what’s suffered the most for them under COVID,” she says, “but also what’s improved. For me, I know contact with friends has suffered, but at the same time, my routine of taking that early walk every day and taking some time and space away from working is something I would like to continue.”
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