Lockdown reflections - Ian Brandon

18 March 2021

A personal reflection by Ian Brandon, Consultant.

The initial lockdown (remember back to 16 March 2020, when Boris first made the announcement) was not a full lockdown. It was strongly advised for pubs, shops etc to close. The legally enforced lockdown did not come till a week later, with some establishments putting in rushed interim measures to create social distancing and enhanced cleanliness.

I remember being at GGI offices that day. Looking back at my diary, I can’t recall why I was in the office. I had one meeting at the end of the day testing Zoom. Who knew it would become such a dominant way of our working lives, not just for the next year but likely for the foreseeable future?

On this sad anniversary, it is worth reflecting on how the year has passed and any lessons we might take from it. As with all years, it has had its peaks and troughs but obviously a very different context to any year in my lifetime.

Looking back, the change to virtual working feels like a lifetime ago and I’m sure I speak for many when I say a hard transition too. I had worked from home previously, both at GGI and in other roles, but doing this full-time is a different expectation coming with its own pitfalls as well as benefits.

Routines change – dedicating part of every day for a walk became a needed respite. Back-to-back Zoom calls meant little time for reflection compared to face-to-face meetings where there is often a breather. Trying to understand people’s behaviour and feelings virtually when you were used to dealing with them face-to-face became an art in itself. Yet all of this has become a way of life, routine, the norm. A challenge for me, a challenge for everyone, yet one it feels now passed with flying colours.

What has been and continues to be a remarkable achievement this last year, is the amount of content GGI has produced to support those in the sectors we work with during these difficult times. We’ve issued tools, bulletins, illuminations, prompts among many others – together totalling 100,000 words and counting. These have focused on particular pandemic-related issues but also offered reminders and updates on areas such as risk, assurance and quality that are always worth reflecting on.

This work has brought our knowledge, skill, expertise and identity more to the fore, and has been praised in many client meetings and webinars. It was a full team effort, of which I was a part, and it’s something I and GGI will continue to be proud of – I think rightly so.

In this last year I ran the virtual London marathon – via two circuits and a bit round Bewl Water in a very muddy, wet October. It feels like an age ago, yet it’s one of the best achievements of my life. I am looking forward to doing the real thing in April 2022, hopefully in a quicker time too.

And these were only a few of the big things that have happened in the last 12 months. So many more – the NHS white paper move to system working, the constant in and out of lockdown, the loss of loved ones to name just a few others. The next 12 months will bring more challenges. For GGI it’s about capitalising on our work and impact during the pandemic. For me, I will be in pastures new, focusing on quality in my local ICS while also looking forward to making some big house improvements to really make my property a home. Hopefully, we’ll also see an end to lockdown.

It’s a challenging future, but, despite the difficulties over the last 12 months – we will all be stronger because of it

Prepared by GGI Development and Research LLP for the Good Governance Institute.

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