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  • Writer's pictureJessica Davey

Back Where You Belong?

Coffee shops are one of the things that I have missed the most.

OK, well, also the gym.

Sorry, OK, also the pub.

OK, well I suppose seeing family too!

Not least for the rocket fuel effect (I’m a “cappuccino or three” kind of girl) combined with some good music flowing through your headphones, which makes any sort of monotonous, administrative task feel like a you’re raving with Carl Cox, but being surrounded by the buzz of people and feeling like you are part of something. Like you Belong.

Coffee shops were my sanctuary for not only having a break from the same four walls when I was working from home, but to also meet candidates and clients. For anyone who knows me, I base Belong and everything I do on relationships. Chatting in depth over a coffee with a candidate about their career, what they truly aspire to do next, their hopes and dreams; or with a hiring manager about the current challenges they are facing, the frustrations they are going through and helping them better understand exactly the skill set they need to hire; is the most rewarding and exciting part of my job.

Setting up Belong and working for myself has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I love every second of it. Most of all because every day I live true to my personal mission and values: finding talent and building culture, by placing professionals within companies where they feel like they Belong.

It can feel very lonely sometimes.

But it can feel very lonely sometimes. I went from working in a large, buzzy and really sociable London office for many years with incredible people and managed an amazing team. As Head of Talent, if I was not interviewing candidates, I was meeting with hiring managers, helping out my team or just checking in with individuals throughout the week – this would be a formal meeting or as we made a cuppa in the kitchen – and there was nothing more meaningful to me than being able to support these fantastic people.

So going from that to just me, a laptop and a mobile phone – where my home was now my place of work – was quite a shock. Not only did I not have anyone to hold me accountable, but I longed for those kitchen chats about the weekend – or even speaking to a random stranger on the train home (not the sweaty armpits in your face on a hot and sticky summer’s day though!).

But it just is not the same.

And then a little thing called Coronavirus came round the corner and, suddenly overnight, everyone was in the same boat as me. With the added knock that we couldn’t escape to coffee shops (or pub, no judgement here!) for work or meetings. Of course technology has been undeniably fantastic in keeping us all connected. Sure, those extra hours gained from the long commute and being able to spend more time with your loved ones has been gladly welcomed. But it just is not the same.

We have all learned a lot about ourselves throughout this peculiar and testing time. It has certainly been an opportunity for many to slow down from the manic Monday-Friday commute. We have gained more time than we have ever had before and reflected: the jobs we are in, the goals we have, the home we live in and the relationships we are part of.

I have had many lovely and inspirational conversations with candidates, who throughout this time, have decided to push their professional limits like never before, start looking for their next challenge 12 months earlier than initially planned or take a completely different direction with their career altogether. I have spoken to clients about how they have had to re-align their business in order to survive and grow next year, but now they have a stronger product proposition and better market fit than ever before, and are ready to hire some incredibly exciting leaders who will pioneer the future of their business.

Our working life as we know it will be very different.

The last few months have brought around a lot of change for us all. Our working life as we know it will be very different. But a lot of that change is extremely positive and a very exciting, bright future lies ahead.

However, I am certainly very happy to get back some of what we have missed. Seeing friends and family. Having ‘real meetings’ and getting away from the screen. Grabbing lunch or going for Friday drinks with work colleagues. Enjoying a decent cup of coffee. 

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