Pause for applause

Avatar photo Colette Ballou - 9th Apr, 2020

We’re learning and changing as a result of this virus. We’ve all used the term “quarantine” more in the last fortnight than ever before, everyone’s figured out that furlough doesn’t meant what they thought it did, that their parents have no understanding of the word “essential” and realised that we’re never going to under-estimate the joy of a trip to the pub again.

Also, everybody who has been attempting to home-school their children now has the fervent belief that all teachers should be paid at least £46,000 per day.   Similarly, Priti Patel’s “low skilled workers” have suddenly become the people that are keeping the nation going – the shop assistants, agricultural workers and care providers.  Doorstep milk deliveries feel like a minor miracle, we’re hugely grateful to refuse collectors for keeping the service going and the fact that letters are still plopping on to the doormat seems incredible.

Loving the invisible forces that keep us going brings me on to IT.  I work in tech so obviously I’m more aware of the work that goes into producing the systems that keep the office going, but so many people aren’t.  IT departments are the butt of jokes (looking at you, ‘IT Crowd’), and can be seen as unhelpful or deliberately oblique.  Without them though our working lives would grind to a halt under normal circumstances but under this lockdown work would be utterly impossible.   Those in IT are obviously highly skilled workers but I’m still not sure they get the recognition they deserve.

A video did the rounds of social media earlier today of a woman lambasting two telecoms workers for digging up a pavement to fix a connection.  In her view this was inessential work, noisy and intrusive, and broke the lockdown regulations.  In what world is telecoms an inessential service?  Not this one, where vital medical information and access to life-protecting services are all accessed through the internet.

Like I’m sure you have, I’ve been out clapping for the NHS and all those on the front line.   Of course we should be aware and appreciative more often of the outstanding contribution these citizens make.  It shouldn’t take a global catastrophe to make us aware of their work.  Along with everything else coronavirus is teaching us about society, however, hopefully after this we’ll stop and think every now and again of the unsung heroes across different industries, tech included.

Now we’re really self-isolating we’re realising the part we each play in society.  Maybe we’ve actually been self-isolating all along, in entirely the wrong way – it’s time to step up and keep this momentum going.

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