Manchester: how the “business as usual” workplace brings us hope from despair

Like many people this week, I found it very difficult to sleep on Tuesday night, having woken to such dreadful news from Manchester earlier in the day. I tossed and turned – and eventually gave up at 5am. So I went downstairs and turned on the radio …

I was very fortunate to tune in first to BBC 5 Live’s daily business show Wake up to Money. A special edition included a panel of Manchester business men and women talking about how the local business community can best help everyone recover following the terrible events. In fact, just listening to them talk helped. I would recommend anyone to listen again – 45 minutes later I had a much greater appreciation of the power of earthy and relentless business pragmatism in accelerating our return from despair to hope.

Those who have suffered most – and those nearest to them – of course need a whole different magnitude of time and space in which to grieve. For the rest of us, the need this week has been to work our through our collective shock, sorrow, and anger on their behalf. The Manchester business community, as represented in the BBC panel, to me represented the best possible response – a perfect alchemy of genuine empathy with the strongest sense of resilience imaginable.

Hearing them talk, it struck me that for many of us the workplace this week has been an essential forum for the recovery of our collective self-confidence. The panellists saw instinctively that every factory, shop or office in Manchester that opened as normal, every meeting or conference that went ahead as planned and every “business-as-usual” discussion that took place all accelerated a return from the depths of despair. And the workplace should never be a place to deny or suppress our emotions – heartfelt discussions with clients about the tragedy and several messages of sympathy for the city of Manchester from overseas work colleagues this week all played an important part for me in the recovery from horror.

For many of us, the “business-as-usual” workplace has been a really important place to be this week….

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