Yvonne Holmes, head of corporate communications, European Recycling Platform, was already working mainly from home before the Covid pandemic hit but the lockdown has still had an impact.
“I went to the office typically one day a week and other days were spent at meetings with members, stakeholders or suppliers,” she says of her working life before the pandemic. “Looking back, I think in the middle of March last year after the taoiseach’s speech everything just paused. It was like we were all holding our breaths. I canceled any upcoming campaigns in line with government guidelines. I even stopped putting out content on social media as I just felt it wasn’t appropriate. In April, when it seemed like we had more of a handle on what we were facing, I had to adapt and realign our campaign strategies to promote the message of responsible WEEE and battery recycling, moving as much online as I could. This was a challenge but also an opportunity to maintain communications in a creative way.”
There were positives and negatives. “The positive impact was that it gave me a chance to pause, look at what I was doing and re-evaluate. The negative for me was trying to do all that with three children at home and squeeze in the Joe Wicks workouts, the baking, walks and homework while fitting in the new work era of Zoom and Teams calls.”
But the new way of working was surprisingly good. “In February this year we had our annual group internal meeting,” she recalls. “Seventy people from all over the world met up for a three-day session, all via Zoom. I thought it would be torture but actually, it was great. The hourly themed sessions and breakout groups were really engaging. Not having to fly somewhere the day before, missing the work evening dinners and switching off my computer on the last day, and walking into my kitchen instead of an airport lounge definitely had its benefits. I feel this new normal really suits me and my work-life balance.”
Looking ahead, she thinks a hybrid approach will be the norm. “I think there are certain types of work that are more easily done at home and others in the office, so I think a blended approach is definitely the way forward,” she explains. “Work continues regardless. However, I am looking forward to meeting up with colleagues and members again in a few months, more for a catch-up than anything else.”