Returning to the ‘New Normal’

Returning to the ‘New Normal’

When you total the amount of time we’ve been shut down into days (104) it sounds like an impossible number (and I work in finance). It has felt longer and shorter all at the same time. May seemed to drag its heels but I felt June disappear with the awakening of the world, the emerging of non-essential shops with their yellow spots and the visiting of outside spaces by time-slot.

My body clock decided a new rhythm while on furlough, that doesn’t seem to want to correct itself now 7.30 am starts are back on the agenda. I was 6 miles down the road this morning before I remembered that I needed my laptop for work and turned around.

Being back in the office again has felt like slotting back into a groove that has slightly changed shape. It feels familiar but not the same, we must work further apart, hand sanitiser has become a habit after you touch, well, anything. It feels good to be back in an office instead of in bed with a lap tray. I’ve missed seeing people, I feel like I’m relearning how to interact with them all over again! Seeing work friends from 2 metres away instead of frozen in Zoom meetings is definitely an improvement!

One of the best parts of my job of working in the Prison is the building itself, I can’t say I’ve ever felt anything except comfortable walking around it. Maybe it’s because I don’t have to do the shutdown at night very often! The teams at both of our Prisons have done an amazing job of getting the sites up to spec putting new safety measures in place and using the time to improve the customer experience. They’ve added interpretation spaces, information boards and even speaking boxes that have inviting glowing buttons to press (oooh). After two years of working at Shrewsbury Prison, I finally got brave enough to get on the safety netting on the threes to give them a dust with Stacey!

One of the things I’ve missed the most is developing the merchandise range; at the beginning of lockdown, we were waiting on the delivery of new lines. We’re now finally getting the deliveries sent out which include logoed caps, lanyards and hoodies. We’ve had to rethink the way we display our range and Gary had the brilliant idea of using a shadow box that the prisoners would have used for tools and it looks fantastic!

Most of all I’m happy to have routine and structure back, I feel like after the first month of lockdown all my best-laid plans rolled to stop. My sleeping patterns drifted into my natural cycle of being a night owl and so facing mornings became harder and harder. Luckily, my cat decided to keep me in one routine, hitting my face at 7.30 am every morning for breakfast so I didn’t get totally out of practice. Since returning to work I’ve found keeping notes in my calendar for what I want to achieve daily, whether I’m working from the office or home, and weekly goals are keeping me focused. I’m getting back into the swing of things in this post-lockdown world and I’m grateful to have such brilliant people and buildings to return to.