Freedom. It’s been a long time coming. The ability to do what we want, when we want, where we want and with hundreds of other folks if that’s what floats our boat! And it’s finally here, at least in part, as the latest lockdown comes to a close and the restrictions continue to lift at few-weekly intervals across the UK.

Of course, for all the people who cannot wait to remove the shackles, there are plenty feeling nauseous at the thought of our return to ‘normal’ life for lots of reasons. And fair enough, too. With the social tap switched to ‘stay at home’ for many months during the past twelve, you’d expect a feeling of reservation from some who’ve grown more than used to their own four walls.

It’s not just socially where we’ll see big changes, either, with businesses who were forced to limit their staff onsite and others who postponed trading altogether likely to want teams back in physical attendance as the restrictions ease – which more than likely frustrate as many employees as it does please, particularly those at one with remote working.

As organisations reopen, the warmer months draw nearer and the hospitality sector wedges its doors well and truly wide once again, it might be tempting to dive straight towards the life of old we once took for granted. Yet how do we return to our pre-Covid existence when the virus is still very much a thing – and, more to the point, do we want to?

Here’s how to make your journey toward normal enjoyable, simple and safe, inside and out!

Real-life catch-ups with friends and family Surely there’s one thing we can all agree on: the prospect of MIRL - ‘meeting in real life’ - has reached fever pitch! Of course, some made sure their family or best friends were the first people to visit in an outdoor setting since the ‘Rule of 6’ returned on March 29th. And how amazing, too, that we’re able to trade in our magic six for ‘two households’ this time around should we prefer, which is ideal for the larger families among us. And the best bit? While the directive, for now, is to keep these meetings within the guidelines, if all goes to plan, this will open up wider to include gatherings of 30 people at indoor venues come May 17th. For now, though, it’s about playing it safe, from a distance, with numbers kept to a minimum be it a friend’s place, a park or a good old pub beer garden. With face masks still very much encouraged and no hugging, peeps!

Venturing out: booking systems and being prepared Speaking of beer gardens, hurray for April 12th when we finally celebrated the return of the hospitality sector! Well, kind of. Just as it was last summer when these establishments moved from being shut down back to trading again, similar restrictions are once more in place to limit the numbers visiting each venue. For starters, if you’re thinking you can return to eating and drinking ad-hoc style then think again, with advanced bookings still the norm for anyone venturing out. And for now, you’ll be making that booking at a table outdoors rather than undercover (unless it’s a temporary outdoor one like a gazebo) with indoor service off the table until next month. So, it’s time to be super organised and plan your social calendar well in advance!

Back to the office - with a bounce? Throughout the pandemic, many businesses still in operation have encouraged home working in line with the Government’s guidance to stay home where possible. And if there’s one thing learned, it’s how effective we can be when working remotely. Yet many will be expecting those workers to return to the office sooner rather than later and not everyone is going to be happy about it. If that’s you, make sure you speak to your Manager or HR specialist about the options available to you. It could be your employer is happy to offer you a blend of home and office-based working – although you won’t know until you ask. If your reasons for staying away are health-based, it’s more imperative again to raise your concerns with someone as soon as possible to find a resolution that can work for everyone.

Virtual meetings are here to stay For those of you who are keen as mustard to return to the office – if only for the water cooler and coffee room chats – perhaps best not to get too excited just yet as your employer may have other plans. With the likes of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and umpteen others making online meetings such a success, many businesses now feel a blend of home and office-based working is the way forward, providing an opportunity to downsize their office space and save on OPEX costs. So, perhaps don’t go deleting your favourite virtual backgrounds just yet…

Time for a career change? Now, some of you will be looking for a new role this spring. It could be out of necessity if the pandemic forced your prior job to fold, or perhaps you’ve concluded the job you’re doing it’s no longer for you. While some sectors struggled last year, the good news in 2021 is that most are back to hiring again, with even those previously battling – think hospitality and retail – now back on the hunt for talent. In other words, there has never been as good a time to jump onto the job boards and start your search for a brand-new role. Or, speak with a recruitment adviser like us! With stacks of jobs available at all levels and across many sectors, 121 may just have the perfect role for you right here.