Let’s dive straight into this one - there’s nothing like people!

This is something a colleague said to me earlier this week.

I work for The Alternative Board, which brings together a whole network of business advisors across the UK. At the start of this week, we all got together in Leeds. For the first time in 18 months. I know, I know, everyone is saying that across social media and in conversation. But, it was quite simply amazing to see people again, or actually, meet people for the first time and discover they are a whole foot taller than they look on a screen.

I was sitting eating my lunch when this particular colleague turned to me and said “there really isn’t anything like being together. We are wired that way.” I’ve been thinking about that.

Today, in the aftermath, I’m absolutely exhausted. I’m working on my second novel, while working on TAB, with church commitments and other responsibilities pouring in and...well, there’s a lot on. Yet the main reason I’m tired and feeling stretched, is because I’ve just spent two days away seeing, interacting and learning more about other people. Shouldn’t I see that as a blessing rather than something to complain about? Because there’s nothing like people! I feel re-energised to do my job better than I was doing it before. I feel excited about further developing my working relationships. Plus, we had loads of fun. I laughed a lot and I also learnt that I can’t pick up potatoes with long chopsticks. (Don’t ask!)

Whether you’re an extrovert like myself or an introvert, there’s certain people you love. And you’ve got to admit it, there’s nothing like being with them. Whether it’s having them to listen or letting them tell their stories, that interaction is important for us as humans. Sadly though, through the moving digital landscape and this new emphasis on remote working, those interactions are being devalued against productivity and “having more time.”

Yes, I admit it, I would love to have more time to “do more stuff”, and of course, I like the added flexibility that online meetings bring. I’m not saying we need to see people for everything, the pandemic has revealed how inefficient that can sometimes be in a business context. My question is though, how much are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of “more time.” That’s the whole idea behind the invention of SkipSleep in my fiction series. My characters want more time to work towards their personal merit scores, so they take drugs to avoid the need for sleep. More time for them and their ambitions, but they struggle to ever find time for others, unless it profits them in some way. Is that where society is going with the new shifts after the pandemic? Are we heading for a dystopia where we only talk to our colleagues over a screen and rarely get together?

I definitely hope not, because the last two days have shown me that in order to be passionate about your work, you need others to remind you what you’re working for. Those values and beliefs that your product or service or charity stands on and who it is you are trying to serve. Can we really find fulfilment by just looking out for ourselves?

Ecclesiastes 4:9 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour.”

Working alongside and with others is hugely rewarding. I’m going to try and remember that the next time I’m tired after an event with so much to do and start wrongly thinking “it would have been easier if I hadn't gone.” Because the truth is, even though it takes away my time, the people are worth it.