Last month, we officially came out of 16 months of restrictions linked to Covid-19. Well, sort of. As with everything else since the pandemic first hit, this national release from restrictions came with a few caveats.
At The Glass-House, we have been slowly creeping back out of our shells with in-person activities including a gaming workshop at The Willow Primary School in Tottenham, a pop-up making space in Ilford town centre and a creative workshop at Union Chapel in Islington. I also ventured out of London for our first on-site Historic Places Panel visit for a year and a half. It’s been a delight for us to reconnect with people in person, albeit in some cases through plastic visors and face masks. We have also seen very clearly the diversity of experiences, emotions and concerns of different people stepping back into mixing with each other more freely.
If the last year has taught us anything (and this is a phrase we hear a lot within our networks), it is that we all cope with and adjust to situations differently, and that we must be patient and generous with each other and our varying levels of comfort and confidence in getting “back to normal”.
Indeed, are we looking at a “new normal”?
We are still a long way from being “post-pandemic”, and it seems to us that the need for flexibility, innovation and empathy that we have all had to bring to our work must stay, not just now, but as a new way of thinking and working.
As an organisation rooted in bringing people together to work collaboratively, we have certainly been tested by the pandemic, and have found new ways of doing things, such as rethinking and digitising our Design Training, holding our first fully online event series, Co-designing Sustainable Places and Zooming into a school for a hybrid design and heritage workshop. This has helped us not only embrace new technologies and methods, but also to value and fight for the in-person approaches that we have developed over many years and had to do without over lockdown. We are now really excited about continuing to explore how we can bring all of this together in new complementary ways.
For now, we all find ourselves in this strange moment of not knowing quite how to behave with each other, how far and quickly to push our return to meeting and working collaboratively in person. For some of us, the thought of getting back into a room with others is thrilling, for others terrifying. For many of us, it’s a little of both.
So let’s be cautious, respectful and find ways to collaborate that build on our myriad of experiences, innovations and experiments, and that bring together the best of life, practice and collaboration before, during and after lockdown.