Week 4 of working from home had a few hints of normality. And then a few reminders of just how different our world is. I’m also starting to find lockdown harder.

Getting on with some work

I felt like this was the first week I was starting to get back into projects and progress some work. That included a long call with some funders, where we’re the learning partner to their collaboration. It reinforced an obvious point, that as some parts of our society are doing less work and on furlough, some parts have so much new work that they can barely hold it all in their minds.

I was genuinely impressed by how much they are all doing individually for their grantees. It feels like they are trying to step up to the scale of the moment. It also shows the limits of anyone’s decision-making capacity. This collaboration was not as high a priority to them as it had been four weeks ago, and so their heads were in a different place. We’re all very human, as well as having our roles to play. I’m trying to think how we as the learning partner can help them maintain momentum, but also slow down when there is so much going on.

Interesting new chats

Had a really interesting conversation with an old friend who runs an Academic Health Science Network. That reminded me that any big change opens up the possibility for us all to think again about things we had just taken for granted, or not really seen. I want to keep pushing this. I’d be interested in how others are doing this with so many competing demands.

Staff wellbeing

I’m doing weekly video messages to the team while we’re distancing. I focussed on wellbeing this week. I wanted to be explicit that working from home doesn’t mean what it used to mean! Expectations and challenges are being reset, and I wanted to ensure people heard that from me. It was interesting to see that the team members who very rarely get in touch with me directly were the ones who replied to say they needed to hear that. I feel like I’m constantly learning more at the moment about what my job really is.

Reading, listening and watching

Nearly finished Deborah Orr’s memoir, Motherwell. So very good on place, home, family, parenting, narcissism and so much more. A lot resonated with me as somebody who thinks that place and community matters a great deal, but who also left the place and community they grew up in. All the really powerful things are both / and, in my view.

David Remnick does the New Yorker Radio Hour podcast. I found the slot about New Yorkers clapping at 7 pm (their equivalent of our Thursday at 8 pm) incredibly moving. By being about another city, but also one quite like London, it felt both distant to my experience and very similar.

A week off next week. I need a break, and also it’s my partner’s 40th. I need to make a pavlova. And find some eggs first…