Over the last couple of weeks, all our working lives have changed in ways we couldn’t have imagined beforehand. More of us are working from home. (I’m writing this blog on my dining room table.) Others can’t work at all because shops or restaurants are closed.
And it’s not just the speed of change which is astonishing. It’s the scale of the change too.
If I try to think back to when everything could last be considered ‘normal’, it’s actually only a matter of days, yet it seems like somewhere in the distant past already.
Some of those changes are the big obvious things, like staying at home, working on your kitchen table. Here at ITV there are lots of ways we have changed what we do to keep our programmes on air while keeping our colleagues and the wider community safe.
But what has struck me in the last few days is how it’s the smaller things that you now worry about which take you more by surprise. It’s the things you now question which before you’d done without a second thought that make you realise how much our world has changed.
I can pretty much count on one hand the number of people currently in our office. When I’m there I’ve seen someone make a cup of tea. They’ll start to offer one to someone else but then wonder whether it’s OK or whether it might spreads germs.
Another colleague wants to show me a picture on his mobile phone. A couple of weeks ago we would have stood next to one another, looked and laughed together. Now he has to tell me to come and look, put his phone down on the desk, step away and we take it in turns to lean over and look without touching it.
Someone else has a piece of paper with some notes on but is unsure whether it’s OK to pass me the paper or whether it’s best not to share the same note.
I need to put my glass in the dishwasher but because of where someone else is standing we have an awkward to and fro dance trying to get in and out of the kitchen without breaking the invisible two metre forcefield that we know needs to surround each of us at all times.
And when I’m heading into the studio to present the programme later, instead of my colleague bringing me a microphone and a pack for my earpiece to plug into, I’ve now been shown where to collect them from and how to put them back on charge myself so we’re not all handling the same pieces of kit.
Maintaining social distance is so important. We are all learning to minimise our trips out of our homes. But for me it’s not the days spent working from home or counting the minutes I’ve been outside the front door that show much things have changed, but the fact nobody seems quite sure if they can accept a cup of tea from someone else right now.
Read more of James' blogs here.