Covid-19 and Working From Home

As you may have gathered from my previous post, Anna and I are currently working from home. We haven’t been forced to, but the University has asked us to work from home as much as possible. This seems like a sensible idea in an effort to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus. In fact as the seriousness of the situation escalates I think more and more people should probably be forced to stay at home. I know that many employees simply can’t work from home due to the nature of the work they do but we at least are fairly fortunate in being able to do so for at least part of our jobs.

Anna’s Office

Anna works in admin at the University so can do much of her work from home. She has set up a laptop and a second screen on the dining room table, has a comfy office chair that has been borrowed from then University. Along with a keyboard, mouse, plenty of desktop space and our decent broadband connection she should be able to carry out most, if not all, of of her tasks fairly easily.

Working From Home

I work part-time at the University as a lab technician in the Sport & Exercise Science Department. Usually my daily tasks revolve around supporting the students, researchers and academic staff in the labs by keeping equipment up and running, helping out with running experiments, ensuring Health & Safety precautions are taken care of and generally making sure everything runs smoothly. Clearly I’m unable to ‘run experiments’ and ‘maintain lab equipment’ from home as these are hands on tasks that can only be completed in the labs themselves. There is however also lots of admin, procurement and paperwork to do. Risk Assessments need updating, Standard Operating Procedures need to be written and more and more work is computer based theses days.

The close contact and human participants involved in the work carried out in the labs meant that they were closed down fairly soon after the Covid-19 restrictions were being put in place. With nothing going on in the labs there wouldn’t be a huge amount of essential work for me to do in them so I decided that it was a responsible move for me to work from home as well. I’m still able to do the admin side of things. I’m also responsible for various parts of the Universities websites so I’m planning to spend some time concentrating on them whilst working from home.

In fact, having spent Thursday and Friday at home I found myself busier than ever. I too am fortunate in having a nice office set up here at home. As well as working at the University I run my own business as a freelance web developer. This used to be a full-time job for me before I worked at the University so I have a nice large home office with a decent computer set-up.

My Office

The fact that I’ve been working on this ever evolving system for close to 20 years means that I have it set up just the way I like it and I’m super efficient working on it. I’m a bit of an Apple Mac Fanboy so prefer working on it than on the Windows PC at the University too. I have over the years put in place lots of automation, shortcuts and other productivity enhancements that means I can often fly through work that would otherwise take a while.

A couple of University colleagues that I was doing tasks for from home on Thursday and Friday have already commented on the speed at which I got things completed. I hadn’t really thought about it as it was just normal for me but I guess the lack of distractions at home and the use of a set up that I actually enjoy using is enough to boost productivity. I’ve put out a call to colleagues to audit their sections of the University website and send me any updates they would like made. I’ve made myself a list of tasks that I can do from home; some that I would do at work anyway, others that I’ve been meaning to do but haven’t had the time to do and some that I’ve been putting off for a while. I should therefore have plenty to keep me busy and I’m quite looking forward to ‘getting stuff done’ while things are on lock-down in the labs due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Schooling From Home

Morgan too is working from home. Schools across the UK are closed until further notice and exams have been cancelled so we are trying to keep him in some sort of a routine. Teachers are sending through tasks for him and his classmates to complete and he too is fortunate enough to have his own Mac Mini computer in his room and a desk at which he can work.

Again, I reckon the lack of distractions from school mates and the fact that he is himself pretty bright will mean that he is actually more productive at home than he would be in a classroom setting. We are also aware of the fact that he needs to get some fresh air and sunlight so will be forcing him to at least walk across to the beach a couple of times a day. We’ll probably go with him now and then too so instead of putting the world to rights during coffee breaks at work we’ll have 10 minute family strolls to the beach. Not a bad replacement!

A Sea-Change?

This working from home as a family could prove to be quite good. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Covid-19 outbreak leads to something of a sea-change in this respect for many people. Companies will require staff to work from home during the outbreak. After the initial set-up concerns they may well find that there is in fact a general increase in productivity from the home-workers. This, along with a potential reduction in costs due to the saving of office spaces, heating, electricity etc. could be quite a boon for some businesses so they may well decide to continue with the home-working experiment once the outbreak is over. It may not work for everyone but for many it will be ideal.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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