Nina Bartlett, Awards Officer, EAUC

‘I hope my Wi-Fi is up to the job’

‘At least I won’t have to worry about making a packed lunch for a few weeks’

The first two thoughts that crossed my mind when I heard about the lockdown probably weren’t dissimilar to those of many others around the globe. I knew there was a big adjustment to be made to several aspects of life – and work was going to be one of those key big adjustments.

As a sustainability charity, EAUC has always offered very flexible working opportunities, something I, and many of the other staff, have been very grateful for over the years. Home working is something we have all taken advantage of at times and the fact we were all practised at this gave a great deal of hope when the lockdown hit. Although we certainly weren’t used to home working as a whole business, we did have lots of the tools and plans in place to make the transition to this set up as easy as possible.

So, after a few weeks of working in the new, and sometimes surprisingly challenging, setting that I call home, there are a few key ideas that I have implemented to try and make homeworking as productive as possible:
  1. Try to get outside before opening the laptop – even if it’s just a walk around the block or a quick water of the plants, getting some fresh air before I get started has really helped.
  2. Keeping in contact with colleagues – as a company, we have two daily video calls set up for staff that are optional to attend. These are not work meetings. We call them Mullings – and they are just that – a chance for staff to mull on anything they want. Some days we only talk about coronavirus and other days (not that often!) we hardly mention it. It is great to have the chance to communicate with colleagues who otherwise can seem very far away and to regularly hear the voices of people other than my family (not that I don’t love their voices - but a change is always good!)
  3. Structured snack times – my colleagues will testify to the fact that in the office I have to resist the urge to eat my sandwiches from about 10.30am and, when 12pm finally comes around, I’m often heard breathing a sigh of relief that I can finally tuck into my lunch. So, whilst at home, I’ve set a structure where I have a snack - sometimes healthy, sometimes not - at around 10am and then lunch at 12pm. Otherwise the fridge door would be starting to squeak from overuse!
  4. Keep an eye on emails more often – this may go against common advice but, as a part-time worker, I have actually found it helpful to have a look at emails occasionally on the days I don’t work. This is partly because it gives me a sense that I am still contributing to the working world, but also because it means that when I get back to my laptop after a few days off, I don’t feel too overwhelmed by what has happened since I’ve been OOO. Just to point out, this is a personal preference and not for everyone (and certainly not something EAUC asks me to do) but it’s something that helps me as an individual.
Working from home has, at times, been a challenge - as I’m sure it has for many. But it has also posed several opportunities for me. Top of the list – I used to drive to work and I feel like I am making a positive change by not using a vehicle on the days I work. I’m not even sure if my car would start now, it’s that long since I drove it! This is something I want to keep up whenever the lockdown ends, either by cycling or other means! I am also spending more time during lockdown focusing on reusing items rather than just recycling.

As an individual, I don’t deal well with uncertainty, which makes a time when everything is so unsettled quite tricky. For me, having the consistency of work has helped keep me in a routine and I’ve been very grateful to EAUC for their unwavering support of their staff. We have flexibility to change hours to accommodate childcare and other commitments and we have a team of people who are there to chat if help is needed. I personally couldn’t ask for anymore from my employer.

So…I find certainty in the fact that we are pulling together as a team, persevering through this very unusual time. I hope many things will change when, not if, we find a way out of this lockdown. But I have every confidence that one day, hopefully in the not too distant future, we will return to the office and my colleagues will hear me complain that I’m hungry once again!
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