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This week Professor Mona Siddiqui, Assistant Principal Religion and Society, reflects on our way out of lockdown and how old routines will be changed.

As the lockdown starts to gradually lift in various parts of the UK, albeit with restrictions, many of us are wondering what we will do first with our new freedom.  As someone who often worked from home even before the current situation, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve missed and want to return to from my former routine.

These last few weeks, I’ve been lucky to have most of my family with me at home. But I haven’t been able to see my eldest son who lives and works in London. I miss the gym but not shopping or even travel that much. I miss coffee and lunch with colleagues although I still haven’t joined them for the weekly staff social on Microsoft Teams! I’ve kept up with online marking and giving feedback to my postgraduate students by phone or email. I even bought myself a new desk to complete old writing deadlines and find inspiration for new projects; productivity is a way of feeling normal.

My new routine sounds simpler and less active, but maybe I’m not being honest with myself. Perhaps the real issue is that in my mind this seismic societal shift, while temporary, is still too daunting. We need the comfort of feeling that we are connected to the outside world, to other people however much we tell ourselves we can work alone or remotely. The online world is a lifeline but for most of us, it’s not a substitute for the beauty and complexity of our physical interactions. Whatever our future routines, whatever else we can do without, we should all emerge with a greater appreciation  of what we get from seeing family, friends and colleagues.

Photography: Sam Sills