As many staff begin to return to the office following a lengthy period of working from home, we spoke to colleagues about their experiences of the past 18 months and thoughts for the future. Here’s Dr Enrique Sanchez Molano, Core Scientist in Livestock Genomics at the Roslin Institute.
March 2020 was a very confusing and fast paced experience. Just before everything exploded, I was out in the Scottish Borders with some friends for a long weekend. Some people did not come because they were not feeling okay and, when returning, the news outburst about the pandemic started. At that moment, just before the University decided to start the working from home scheme (WFH), I spoke with my supervisor and took the decision to work from home. About a week or so afterwards, the University entered into the WFH scheme.
My house was not prepared to work from home. I had to create a desk using a camping table in my bedroom (I definitely though it was going to be very temporary and my partner and I had to adapt to the new situation). Fortunately, I am a computer based researcher, so I could work with my laptop without almost any problem. However, the light conditions at my bedroom are not really optimal, so after some months working with artificial light, I started to notice sight problems and more frequent headaches.
But I thought everything would be gone by Christmas 2020, so I continued. By February 2021, I realised the WFH situation was going to last much longer. I decided to talk to some of my friends at the Roslin Institute to pick up my monitor, keyboard and mouse and get a more comfortable working environment. It definitely improved things, but the lockdown has impacted my sight, and now I have early presbyopia (I know I am not young but still …).
During all these months I have not been out of home except for the basic shopping, not even for exercising (I have always been what you would define as a “couch potato”). My “exercise” was walking around home and frequent visits to the fridge, thus meaning a slight increase in weight. However, I do not have caring responsibilities, which has made life much easier and, aside from the sight problems, I have not seen a decrease in my productivity. However, it is interesting to notice how WFH can make the working-resting boundaries very diffuse and how you keep working, even outside working times.
Return to Roslin
Things improved in September, when I started to go back to the Roslin a few days a week and I am already planning to go back full time.
Just before coming, I was a bit scared about how complicated the rules would be, but they were clear and easy to follow (plus the fact that I get to do more “exercise” given that most corridors are now one direction).
The first day I arrived was a Friday and I was completely alone in our open office space. It was a bit eerie, but I could focus a lot. As days passed, the area became more “alive” with a few people also coming, and I started to realise how much I had missed it.
Nowadays, Dolly’s Cafe has already opened and I have even been able to enjoy some lovely bacon rolls (with butter!). It is definitely good to see “normality” slowly returning. However, I guess the pandemic has changed the way we see things and, many times, I see myself stressing a bit when people gets too close or the space is more crowded than usual. Probably it will take some time for all of us to re-adapt.