Me and the vast majority of my colleagues have been working at home now for the past three and a half weeks, and we’ve all been in this lockdown for coming up five weeks.
Actually, I’ll correct myself. I saw a good post on Facebook that articulated the whole working from home thing quite well. It said something along the lines of, we’re not working from home, we’re at home during a crisis, trying to work. That explains the situation much better.
I’ve been at pains to let my team know that it is well understood that everyone is in a different situation. Some people have caring responsibilities, some don’t. Some people have jobs which limit what they can do from home, some don’t. Some people have gardens, some don’t . And so on. Everyone is in a different situation, comparisons should be avoided, and no-one is being judged.
It’s only now we’re a few weeks in that one can see patterns emerge. Here are some reflections in no important order:
- With my working routine changed, my exercise routine has changed. I’m doing a lot of exercise. Including walking I’m not doing as much as I would normally do, but I am doing more running and high-intense cardio than I would normally. Which I guess is good. But I am feeling the lack of regular movement throughout the day, in my lower back particularly, which is stiff and aching pretty much all the time at the moment. I’ve only done one yoga session in the last four weeks, so I definitely need to address that.
- I’ve been much busier than I thought I would be. It’s been so busy at work. With hindsight it seems obvious we would be busy given the nature of my role, a large team, and all the rapid changes that are being cascaded, interpreted and implemented across the University. Quite a lot of business as usual and project work has continued uninterrupted, and in some cases, the pace of work has increased.
- I’m beginning to miss people now. Early on it hadn’t been so long since I’d seen many of my friends and my family, but now those weekend zoom chats are becoming more and more important to us, especially as it becomes clear that even though restrictions will be lifted, social distancing will still need to stay in place for a while yet. I am missing the contact with colleagues and friends at work as well. I usually see a lot of people every day. Hundreds probably, in formal meetings, corridor conversations, or even just in the café, car-park or train station. We do a lot of socialising at work without even realising it, and this is now restricted more to group chatter before a meeting and then at the end we all log-off and it’s a like a great shutter coming down on your social interaction, which still feels very artificial.
- I’m connecting more with my local community. I am part of a WhatsApp group with our neighbours. This, together with the Thursday night clapping for NHS and care home staff, is bringing us together. My wife and I are also doing quite a lot of shopping for some of our elderly neighbours as well, which is bringing us closer to them and it’s nice to be able to do something helpful.
- I’ve realised I need stimulus beyond work. I have been doing live piano performances for colleagues on a University Facebook page. This has been a good focus for me as it requires practice beforehand. Also, members of the running club I established last year raised over £3,450 for B30 Foodbank by running a virtual, solo 5k or 10k race on 19th April, which was just joyous to be part of and again provided external focus. Regular contact with my runners and more Facebook Live performances (sorry!) will continue but I am now thinking of the next project…watch this space! Writing this blog is also something I enjoy spending time doing and I hope it provides a real-time record of how I’ve been feeling throughout these weird times.
- I’m not missing live sport as much I thought I would.
- I’m occasionally allowing myself to get overloaded with COVID-19 news. There’s a lot good stuff, there’s a lot of nonsense, and then there’s Donald Trump in a league of his own; there are no words. Even the scientifically sound commentary is coming in from so many angles I do wonder how policy makers are meant to interpret it sensibly and at the break-neck speed we all seem to expect them to.
- People are fundamentally the same. Whether at work, in person or at home, people are the same. The generous ones are still generous. The kind, caring ones are still kind and caring. The funny ones still make you laugh, and the idiots remain true to themselves. This is kind of reassuring continuity in a period of unprecedented changes (though, idiots, please try a bit harder, please?).
- This week was particularly busy and even though home is the workplace, shutting down the laptop on a Friday evening makes it feel more like home and less like the office and I’m finding I need that down time more than I thought I would.
- I’m getting used to this. But I know it won’t be long before we have a new routine to get used to, even though we don’t know what form it will take or when it will start.
As ever, these reflections are as much for me as anyone else, but if anything resonates, or provokes a reaction, do let me know!