'I want to go forward to a better way, armed with what we have learned'

World map on the jigsaw puzzle.

We have the jigsaw pieces to make some positive changes moving forward, including reduce the damaging effects we make to our environment - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

David Parfrey, chief executive of Norwich Research Park, reflects on the positive impacts of 2020.


In my last column, I talked about the challenges of homeworking throughout the pandemic. This time I’d like to link that to my thoughts on climate change, work:life balance, networking, the power of collaboration and I might even mention vaccination!
I think we, as a community, are a bit like jigsaw pieces - on our own we are incomplete, but when we connect with others, pictures emerge, and the ‘possible’ becomes the ’likely’. Turning the possible into the likely is the picture that is forming thanks to the new ways we have been adopting in our work lives. 

Picture of David Parfrey, chief executive of Norwich Research Park standing on a balcony

David Parfrey, chief executive of Norwich Research Park - Credit: Norwich Research Park


In the early days of the pandemic, I talked about the things we were learning, and that I didn’t want to go ‘back to normal’. I want to go forward to a better way, armed with what we have learned. 
One big lesson is that we don’t have to commute for hours each day to reach a place of work to do what we have been doing from home throughout 2020! At Norwich Research Park, our science doesn’t translate easily to the kitchen table but for those who can, working remotely doesn’t need to end with a vaccination.
Lessening the amount we commute is probably the single biggest opportunity we have to reduce the damaging effects we make to our environment.
Strangely, working at home during the pandemic has seen my network grow. I have been able to talk to people across the world with ease and I have achieved a lot more in my own work sphere. Why would I want to lose that?
There are, however, some downsides to remote working. There is a danger that we lose something of the social contact we have with our colleagues and peer groups. However, my hope is that this could create the resurgence of our local communities.
Why can’t the coffee shops and cafés become the ‘new’ places where we go to work, meeting our local community, developing our local networks, building collaborations and becoming more productive whilst, at the same time, doing our bit to save our planet?

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