My Colleagues at Foys Solicitors

My Colleagues at Foys Solicitors

Written By: Melanie Penney, Foys Solicitors
Edition: July 2020

I walked into the office yesterday. I tentatively strode across reception to meet my clients as I had done for the past couple of weeks when attending the office one day weekly to meet with clients who are unable to Whats App or Zoom or uncomfortable with telephone appointments. 

As I crossed the 2 metre distancing tapes and floor spots, I noticed both how calm and also how bright the atmosphere was.  Reception usually resembles a hub of activity; a chatter filled area where colleagues who may only see each other from time to time cross and cheerily pass the time of day; where the incoming calls are perhaps sending receptionists further down the route of needing hair dye and stress-line creams while they try and juggle fee earners, secretaries, clients and the like while scanning, printing, meeting attending clients and doing a host of other duties (our receptionist I am sure is either a magician or has a spare three sets of hands in her desk drawer!). 

The atmosphere promoted calm and this made me think … why?  Why, four months into the world having turned on its head, am I not feeling panicked, stressed, rushing around doing the crazy headless-chicken dance?  Why were my colleagues so chilled and relaxed?  What’s happening?

Nothing.  Nothing is happening. Or is it everything? Is everything still happening but it’s just that what we found was sending us over the edge with stress previously is now just a stroll through the park compared to what we just experienced?

The world did feel like it had almost stopped spinning and turned on it’s axis for a temporary stay in proceedings.  It felt like – feels like – we hit pause and are now finding the reset button.  I do not see panic though. I do not feel panic. Instead I see my colleagues – many of whom I am privileged to call my friends – stride on with seemingly no complaint.  Everyone simply adjusted and carried on …. then carried on carrying on …. and to date are continuing to carry on.

There was no one telling us to come into the office against our will; in fact, we were told to adhere to Government guidelines and continue to stay home.  The office is manned with minimum support staff who, whilst were flexible previously, are now so much more versatile in the teamwork sector helping out with office administrative tasks and looking out for each other.

I doubt very much the business continuity kit included anything remotely akin to the World being hit by a killer virus and literally ‘closing’ with imminent effect.

Technology has been embraced – even the odd die-hard-technophobe has now fully submersed themselves in the wonderful world of IT and Zoom / Whats App meetings became the new norm. We are handwashing and wiping like never before.  12 months ago, would I have envisaged today happening?  I like to think I have a flexible approach to most things and like to think I live in the reality of the here and now but as a mother and wife planning is also quite a big part of my life – but HELL NO!  How could this have been envisaged in anyone’s wildest dreams?  It hasn’t broken us though.

There is no question that Covid-19 has had a catastrophic effect on the world.  So many thousands of people have devastatingly lost their lives and/or fought so very many brave battles. The human cost of this ‘war’ is like no other I will probably (hopefully) experience.

The ripple through the business world will undoubtedly be felt for quite some time to come and I am in absolutely no way playing down the suffering the world has had to endure. But whilst I expected a tsunami through the office, instead we felt a slight ripple and then … calm. Is this the calm before the storm or is this ‘it’?

Whatever the challenge of tomorrow may be, today I am proud.  Proud to be part of the merry crew sailing these seas. Of my shipmates well, as the saying goes … you get to choose your friends.  I didn’t choose my colleagues but at the same time I wouldn’t choose any others (on the whole anyway, lol!)

Melanie Penney