106 Communications

6th Sense

Diary of a furloughed worker

July 2020 | Employee Engagement, Internal Communications

So, I’m a 40-something professional living with my partner in the south-west. I work in marketing and he works in hospitality. We were both furloughed during lockdown. This is the story of our last 4 months.

Early March: I’m at a networking event. We even jokingly fist-pump instead of shaking hands. I get back to the office and the team think it’s an overreaction to the ‘flu’. Meanwhile, people are crazily buying up all the toilet paper.

13 March My boss announces that we need to make plans to work from home. There’s a mad flurry to order laptops and printers and get everything organised. It’s pretty chaotic.

23 March: We all try and adjust to working from home, and there’s a sense of impending doom about what’s coming. Clients are starting to pause projects. My partner and I are glued to the daily government briefings. Lockdown is now official.

1 April: I’m furloughed. It’s all quite hurried; team calls, letters sent. I think it’ll just be for a month or so. My partner was due to start working for a new start-up, but now this is all put on hold. We’re both a bit shell-shocked but staying positive.

1 May: April was great. The weather was amazing. We both enjoyed the forced time off, and have been getting creative; painting, gardening, relaxing, long walks. My partner managed to get furloughed too – it was all a bit hit and miss until they extended the cut-off date, but now he’s ok too – phew!

I’ve used the time to sign up to a few webinars too. I’m researching a course, which I’ve been interested in for a while. We’re also relieved that the furlough scheme has been extended, and have taken a mortgage holiday.

1 June: The impact is now truly hitting us. I’m really starting to worry about job security for both of us, and the hospitality industry is hit hardest. I’m finding watching the news makes me anxious. My partner’s job is secure for now.  He’s calm but I’m struggling.

There’s a noticeable ‘them and us’ between those furloughed (‘chilling in the garden”) vs those that are still working (“keeping everything going”). I’m finding it tough; there’s so much uncertainty and I feel disconnected from the business.

I decide to sign up to the course, as they’ve shifted everything to online. It feels like I’m doing something positive and future-proofing myself. It’s a financial investment but my parents have offered to help out.

1 July: The furlough scheme changes in August and I still don’t know where I stand. My boss promises an update but this is delayed and there’s a few weeks not knowing what is happening. I consult our household budget spreadsheet for the 100th time and start to work out how long we can manage on savings.

Now: Unfortunately, I’ve heard that my role is at risk of redundancy. I’m strangely calm; I think I’ve mentally prepared myself. I’m not entirely sure what the future holds at the moment, but I’m working through some options. But then again, we’re all facing an uncertain, new world.


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