By Paulette Trevena
Recently I had my first the experience of being made redundant. I felt it approaching for a long time; many months ago I’d been suddenly sent home to work, stood down without pay, back to work part-time from home, and then a slow grind down to having little work to do.
When the announcement happened it was completely expected. An asteroid had been slowly spinning through space towards me; there was no option but a collision course.
The actual collision was one of those pivotal moments in one’s career. While it was tempting to take it a little personally, in the context of a Covid world, with so many people being stood down, made redundant, and losing their profits, businesses and staff, not to mention facing illness and death, I had to remind myself that I was one of the many that was sharing some misery. So while normally redundancy might create some personal grief, I felt I couldn’t be too precious: I had to put that aside and just get on with it.
My trip in to work to pick up my things and clear my desk was surreal. If you’d told me a year ago that I would approach my empty work building and be the only person inside or in sight, and throw out all my work for the past three years, I would have laughed. Normally I would have been in the thick of the daily grind, with lots of meetings and projects and conversations on the go.
As I hadn’t been there for months, much of this work had become redundant – just like me. I wasn’t sure what to keep or toss. In the end I left only a small pile for future colleagues to explore. As no one knows when that will be, it felt like I was leaving a time capsule for someone to discover in some uncertain workplace future. I’m sure that by then they will have moved on to new projects, and that pile will too hit the bin.
As I left the silent building, puffing in my face mask while weighed down with bags of personal effects (how did I accumulate so much stuff at work?) I spied a colleague from another building, on a similar journey. With his mask and box of personal stuff, he hurried towards his car with head down and thus we avoided an awkward conversation. Just getting on with it.
As we grapple with more severe restrictions I can’t help but feel for the business owners who have tried to get on with it, but face more, ever-changing hurdles. While the lockdowns are happening for the right reasons, it must be heart-breaking to order stock, organise staff, and then learn and apply the latest lockdown rules, only to perhaps shut down again, or – understandably – give up completely. My own situation is simple in comparison.
As we wait with some hope to see the results of our new restrictions, life goes on and we adjust our routines to ever-decreasing circles, now within five kilometres from home, and just getting on with it.