Adapting quickly as an office to working from home has been a challenge. We made the decision along with many other MP offices to physically close before the lockdown. It’s been a challenge because not all of my staff have the space, the equipment or even the internet to work from home. We have adapted, we have done so quickly and we have been able to deliver for constituents thanks to my team of committed staff.
Communication throughout this period has been mainly via email, telephone and by the wonderful new app Zoom. Having a range of different platforms to move between for different groups of stakeholders has been a pain for me as I have been working off an iPad. I shall be rectifying that as soon as I can because with all the will in the world it is becoming impossible to keep up with my online workload, writing speeches and articles such as this! I thought I was a pretty tech-savvy woman of a certain age but have been left exasperated moving between Skype, Microsoft Teams (which my iPad doesn’t like unless it’s with Parliament) and Zoom with back to back meetings.
With a restricted Parliamentary timetable now we have returned after recess, the days we are sitting are quite intense with a wide range of online meetings and being in the virtual chamber. I have however been working with lobbying firms and charities throughout this time. Coordination certainly is key and I think that where there are already PR relationships with elected representatives there is that continuation and flow.
With the election of a new Labour Party Leader during lockdown is it also pertinent to note the change in shadow front bench positions with some back benchers taking up additional roles and some former shadow front benchers moving to the back bench. So knowing who is where and how they are approached is important. Since taking up my role as PPS to Jonathan Reynolds MP I have received a number of emails lobbying me, I can’t say I’ve read through them all. To get noticed in a very manic inbox, you need to stand out. Something needs to cut through for my staff to bring it to my attention, why do I need to speak to a particular person now, what is your Unique Selling Point? Why is it important to me, my constituents especially during the current Covid19 crisis? I prefer to receive a personable and to the point email, I’m happy to zoom or speak over the phone but when it’s not manic and our virtual Parliament is sitting.
Everyone is under increasing demands in this bizarre and new working world, we are all trying to work out the best way forward for everyone and do the best as elected representatives for not just our constituents but for what awaits us in post-pandemic Wales and the United Kingdom.