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 Lorraine Jackson, a Translational Project Officer with the College.
When we were sent home in March 2020, like most, I cleared my desk but fully expected to be back in the office within a few months. At first working from home felt like a novelty. I have friends who permanently work from home and I was always slightly envious of their arrangement.
I remember my first social team catch up/coffee call – I was on top of my bed (I have always made an effort to be on top of the duvet rather than under it) with a coffee in hand and my dog by my side. It felt pretty relaxed then the door buzzer went off, the dog jumped up and started barking. My coffee went up in the air, I let out a small scream and my laptop went flying! I decided then that I needed a desk!
Said desk arrived and I set up in the corner of the living door. However, my husband works shifts so this didn’t quite work, I eventually moved some furniture around and moved my desk into the bedroom. It wasn’t the perfect arrangement but was less distracting. I came to realise that I didn’t really like working from home and started to miss seeing my team, saying hello to Laura every morning and goodnight to Linda every evening (QMRI’s amazing receptionists) and all the social aspects of being ‘at work’.
Making the adjustment
I adjusted to using MS Teams on a daily basis but I missed bouncing ideas or questions off my colleagues, it didn’t feel right to put such trivial questions into the Teams chat.
I moved house during lockdown and my workspace improved and I was delighted when my husband surprised me with a comfy office chair. However, after a while I started to fall into bad habits: days were running into night and I wasn’t switching my laptop off until bedtime. I like to have a healthy work/life balance and my erratic work pattern and being in the house all the time was really getting me down which is a really alien feeling for me – I’m usually pretty positive and upbeat. I also felt extreme guilt about feeling like this as I don’t have children so had no competing responsibilities, I had a decent work space and I had company. I knew others who were much more isolated and were working from their kitchen table so what was I complaining about!! Despite this, I was super grateful to have a job when so many others had fallen on hard times. Job security was also on my mind and I offered to take a pay cut hoping that, in a very small way, it would help save any future unnecessary redundancies – thankfully that wasn’t necessary!
Looking to the future
When I heard we could go back to the office, to say I was delighted is an understatement. My mood has lifted significantly. I wasn’t nervous thanks to the management team who have implemented all the safety measures in the building. It has been so nice to see some of my colleagues and my manager has been very supportive throughout and has encouraged everyone to, literally, give themselves a break and get out for fresh air!
I do recognise and appreciate the positives of home working such as making the most of my lunch break to make the daily grind easier: doing the food shop, hanging out a washing, changing beds as well as no-judgement snacking, virtual calls/online seminars equals less travel, wearing comfy clothes, avoiding the rush hour!
I feel very lucky to work in such a supportive and flexible team, and organisation.