Return­ing to Work

March 2020

After spend­ing years and years on my own, writ­ing a PhD and look­ing after chil­dren, house, dog and cats, I am work­ing in a team again. It is fan­tas­tic but it does bruise my pri­vate bub­ble almost hourly.

First of all, the idea that you have to know every­thing is super­seded. Let alone that you do know any­thing. Hav­ing been out of prac­tice for almost 15 years (apart from small con­ver­sions and bath­rooms and the like), I notice that prac­tice has evolved. There are many more con­sul­tants and the archi­tect is much kinder to the client. When I worked in prac­tice (it may have been the offices I worked in), we would nev­er use ref­er­ence images: that would mean that we were sug­gest­ing some­thing that exist­ed already. Now we use them all the time. This is much kinder to the client, who is not asked to take a leap of faith, but who is prop­er­ly informed about what they can expect.

These may be issues that exist­ed in prac­tice before. There are two things that make it hard to return: first of all, to under­stand there has been a cul­tur­al shift form with work col­leagues. Sec­ond it is hard to gauge what has changed and what has stayed the same. For exam­ple talks about struc­ture and build­ing process­es have not changed as much as I thought. Where­as the admin side for organ­is­ing files, draw­ings and their links have changed con­sid­er­ably. I find myself over­con­fi­dent and capa­ble one moment, to be utter­ly despair­ing the next. 

I dis­cussed this with a friend, a for­mer edi­tor at a well-known glossy mag­a­zine. She said she would nev­er want to get back into her old work envi­ron­ment: every­one will be so much more on the ball, so much quick­er. Solu­tions you would not think about for a minute now cost hours. She set up on her own. Tak­ing her time.