Saturday, 6 June 2020

Back to work in Prague after the covid-19 quarantine

Prague Daily Monitor |
22 May 2020

I’ve started working from the office more often and this week has been a full commuting week. What has changed, what is new and how am I adjusting? Here is my update.

Just like the first week of the lock-down, the first days in the office were bliss. The ability to directly concentrate on something for more than five seconds, the peace, the structure and the actual drive in were things I missed greatly. The productivity drop due to the home office/schooling situation was real and I felt a surge in progress soon after returning. Sure I miss the children and the time at home, but it is not sustainable and things need to get back to reality. The world cannot function with everyone laying around the house all day, jogging around the neighborhood at all hours and enjoying family life full time. We already had this in the 70’s here and it ended poorly (ex the jogging).

The first thing I noticed was that we are no longer a society which can feed ourselves. We have outsourced this to others, much like we have other activities like sewing clothes, our children’s education, or dry cleaning and ironing. As I walked the city center I noticed that all the restaurants had turned into makeshift food-truck service window establishments. The lines were long and awkward, everyone trying to keep two meters distance, facemasks in place, then waiting for their order in a group trying to keep space.

I asked around our office what everyone did for food and the general answer was ordering. I didn’t even know there were as many options as our receptionist presented to me. There is even a company that offers delivery within a few minutes of ordering, called ordr.cz. Apparently they have their agents on bicycle-carriers with the four items on the menu in stock each day, and when you order they come riding over. I think the goal is ten minutes. I tried it once and it works really well. The food is good, although it needs to be warmed up.

I regularly see things being delivered throughout the 11:30-13:00 lunch window. I personally hate eating in the office so I hope this trend reverses and we get to normal sit-down service slowly after the May 25th official opening date passes. My prediction: eateries will be packed.

The next noticeable change was that not everyone had returned to work yet which makes obtaining certain services a challenge. I needed to get a documented translated for our client and I usually go up to the seventh floor to the translating agency in the building. When I arrived the doors were still locked and people in the hallway were looking at me as if I was trying to break in to the place. I returned to my office and figured I need to step out of my “old thinking” as they now call it, and get digital. I went online and searched for an agency which provides translations in loads of languages so I could use them for any funky projects in the future too. I found Lexika translating and interpreting which has a nice language list, the ISO certification required by my client, and topic specific translators which makes a huge difference in satisfaction when doing technical translations. I felt good about my find and after I called over to ensure everything was legitimate I was happy that translations were solved for the foreseeable future. My first document had an overnight turnaround time, which was encouraging.

Next was a haircut. I shaved my own hair a few weeks back and was eager to start shaping it back into a real haircut, rather then an army recruit chop. I called the barbershop and they actually had an appointment on the same day in the afternoon. I was shocked. All week my wife had been telling me that all the hair people were booked months in advance. So that business is off to the races. The experience was the same as before except now we all wore masks. Nobody dared cough and everyone kept distance, as much as was possible.

Lastly, I contemplated my first lunch meeting this week. Was it too early? Is it considered proper to even suggest a lunch at this time? I, like seemingly the rest of the city, don’t bring lunch to work, and prefer to eat out. So I tried out my luck with an acquaintance I wanted to meet and discuss some things with. No issues, we chose a place with outside seating and met up, enjoyed the pleasant weather and good food. By the looks of the place we were not alone in our desire to indulge ourselves Prague is back in business.

This experience has shown us how quickly things can change. In that regard I understand the critics when governments overstep the redlines in a functional democratic society. It is a relief that we are getting back to normal and I hope that we can find a solution which will allow our lives to return to what we considered normal, prior to the virus epidemic. The reality is that things will probably never go back to pre-epidemic life, but rather evolve into a more aware, less tolerant and cleaner society when it comes to germs and health welfare processes; hopefully sooner than later!

Paul Lysek – The idea of writing a daily update came to me by seeing, hearing and trying to understand all the things that are happening around us at this time. This story is a combination of all those sources, including friends, relatives, and experiences with attempts to bring out the satire, emotion and changing environment of the situation. It is entirely fictional, with the exception of my sarcasm.

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