At the beginning of last week I was busy attending (virtually) three conferences in the same days. When these heavy “learning” sessions ended, I felt exhausted and it was only Wednesday!
I guess that many of us are having this kind of experience in this period of jeopardised lockdowns across Europe. As we were easily predicting during last Spring when the first 2020 conferences started being cancelled or postponed, it was clear that either the 2020 editions should have been allocated to the 2nd semester of the year or being postponed to 2021. The obvious consequence has been an unusual congestion of professional events in a few months close to the end of the year.
As things don’t usually go as planned (do you remember the Murphy’s Law?), a second wave of Covid-19 arrived and those conferences already moved to Autumn/Winter 2020 had to be re-converted in “digital” events and for this reason easily available because the majority of them has been made free.
For me it was a good exercise having two conferences live on my laptop, a third one on my iPad while being able to choose the topics of interest across the three programs. During and after this experience I thought of how much information we can receive in these days but, at the same time, such huge amount of information could easily cause distraction, confusion, superficiality and generate a false sense of knowing everyhing of all subjects just because some concepts are repeated in several speeches in different conferences.
This issue is additional to the already known pros and cons of working at home as it has become popular during this pandemic. It has indeed some advantages such as time saving (i.e. no commuting) and consequently more time available to spend with family (although there be no many alternatives in place during lockdown) and reduced gas emissions (thanks to no commuting) for example. The most common disadvantages claimed are: feeling (and being) isolated, finding hard to properly concentrate on topics for the entire working day (even worse if there are infants at home), losing the feeling of belonging to a specific organisation, losing relationships with colleagues (and consequent dynamics), finding difficult to separate professional time from personal one. Many more could be listed including the more “legal” aspects such as, for employees, using personal resources (e.g. electricity, heating/cooling expenditures, internet allowance, etc.) for professional reasons, lunch breaks, etc.
Doubtlessly, a strong internal discipline is needed to cope with this current and unplanned long time spent at home.
Personally, another disadvantage I feel is the lack of travelling (as I was used to travel every week or two) and, when travelling, facing a very poor offer of flights in many European airports as all companies dramatically reduced the number of destinations served and the frequency of service for each destination. I find sadly amusing that Ryanair and Easyjet keep sending to my mailbox exciting discounts/offers regarding …Summer 2021…(!!). Consequently, also multi-modal travelling has become complicated as trains, coaches and buses have also faced reduced timetables as there are not enough passengers to serve.
Lastly, when we travel now we need lots of papers to justify why we travel, where we are going to stay, certified proof of (negative) result of a PCR test or be committed to do one within 48 hrs from landing, and the needed – but most annoying – quarantine.
In a nutshell, the life we have been facing for 9 months in Europe is: being locked at home, working lonely, attending a lot of conference calls, watching many conferences without networking coffees, receiving a lot of information that can hardly be discussed with peers/colleagues. Hopefully, some time next year we can re-gain our old life that, with all the weaknesses it had, was not that bad.
EPN Consulting Founder & CEO