Chamber Chat with Steve Wood - COVID-19 and the new challenges working at home.

June 03, 2020 - 12:00am

Chamber Chat with Steve Wood - COVID-19 and the new challenges working at home.

by Steve Wood, Business Development Manager at the University of Cumbria

19th March and the rumblings for a couple of days, we’ll need to work from home. UoC is geared up more than many organisations because we’re multi campus, but how will people cope, will they actually do any work?

20th of March, the decision is made, we’re working at home and the first COVID test of our marriage….. flat pack office furniture building! We’ve survived the first hurdle, someone suggests to us that we should go for a drive without a map and if we don’t kill each other we’ll endure!

We both work from home occasionally so we’re used to it, but on a permanent basis is going to take a change in mind-set. For me, things haven’t slowed down, changed a little yes but I’m just as busy. Key things need to be in place though.

Employer Support
Equipment and working environment, we’ve been able to pick some of the important things up from the office, second monitors, files etc. Staff who don’t have laptops have been issued with them so they can work effectively, additional equipment has been purchased to help us in the new working environment.

Importance of keeping in touch
We have virtual breaks so we can engage socially and the University has put in measures to ease to the new working environment and to aid our wellbeing.

• Quiz
• Dancing
• Yoga
• Coffee Breaks
• Activity sessions
• Relaxation techniques

The “New Normal”
May arrives and we’re working and living in a different way– it’s a testament to us all that we cope, and I hope people are coping.
Technology helps, many of us are using Skype, Teams, or Zoom to communicate, it’s a way for us to come together in both business and social contexts.

Personally, I’ve introduced different disciplines.
• Get up, washed, dressed and eat before I start work – we all do that but the temptation to open the laptop as soon as you get up or work with every hair on your head pointing in a different direction isn’t good when the surprise Skype/Zoom/Teams call comes in.
• Have a clean workspace that is separate from living space. not everyone can, but clear up at the end of the day so work is out of the way
• Take breaks,
• Finish on time – There is always something that needs doing, can it wait?

• No 5.30 alarm
• No traffic or commute
• I’m still productive
• I’m in the garden 2 minutes after finishing work

• I miss seeing people face to face.
• Work and home not completely separate
• Working environment is not the same as the office
• There is a lot a looking at the screen

This reflective is my experience, I appreciate we have different challenges, kids, family, being alone but we are in a new world or work, our business priorities might not have changed, but our working practices certainly have.
I doubt we will go back to the exact way of working that we’ve done in the past, if we can find a positive this might be it.