Working from home. The new normal?
How has working from home affected my work and my mental health?
Working and studying from home
It has been months since most of us started working/studying from home due to Covid-19 and many of us have adapted to this lifestyle, but how have these changes affected us on an individual level? I can’t speak for everyone, but my personal experiences have been mostly positive when it comes to efficiency and productivity but largely negative when it comes to satisfaction. How is that possible?
A little information about me – my work mainly consists of attending meetings and conferences and organizing events. Since we started working from home, all my meetings and conferences have been online and this has allowed me to plan my days more effectively as I don’t have to account for things like travel time or worrying about not being in the same place as the other attendees.
Fortunately, my team at Learning, Teaching and Web adopted a completely online workspace very quickly and we didn’t waste much time in figuring out how to make things work for us. I also felt very supported by regular meetings and weekly socials which alleviate the feeling of isolation.
This means I can stack meetings with completely different groups of people from different parts of the country or the world(keeping time difference in mind is also easier now than it was before) one after another. It also allows me to be very flexible with when I work and when I take breaks, no longer needing to strictly abide by a nine to five time frame. Personally, this has caused me to feel less stressed and has allowed me to work over the weekends as well without feeling like I was losing my free time.
The only issue I have found with working from home is the severely increased screen-on times, there have been days where I have been in front of a laptop screen for upwards of 12 hours as it is quite easy to switch between work and leisure and lose track of time. I have also had more opportunities to speak to friends in different time zones but this has also added on to my screen time.
But surely all of this would mean I was happy and satisfied with how things are, right? Well, not really. Because of how intertwined my leisure and work time have become, while work is less stressful, it also makes my free time feel less valuable. Before Covid, I would come back from University or from work and unwind and enjoy some video games or time with my flatmates. Now, I’m almost always indoor and constantly around my flatmates, so the time I spend playing or with them feels significantly less exciting or fun and this has led to me not feeling the sense of “after work joy” as I did before. Activities like going for walks or exercising outdoors do provide a good break from all of this but it isn’t quite the same as it was before.
As things begin to ease, I see us going back to how things were with certain restrictions but it does make me wonder where the perfect balance between productivity, mental health, and satisfaction is.
Mental health and wellbeing
If you’re having a hard time during Covid please see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing/guidance-for-the-public-on-the-mental-health-and-wellbeing-aspects-of-coronavirus-covid-19
Supporting Open Source in the future
Many of my plans as Website and Communications Open Source Champion were affected by the lockdown. We were unable to host our 2nd Open Edinburgh event and the plans we had to work with young people in schools around Edinburgh teaching computer programming using LEGO have been put on hold. But it did allow me to focus more on working with OpenUK – a UK wide organization promoting open source. I am part of the events committee for OpenUK and helped to advertise the OpenUK awards around the University. There were more entries to the awards than ever before with multiple staff and student projects submitted and hopefully, some of these will reach the shortlist.
If you want to read about the work I did before Covid, the links to them are here – Championing Open Source.
More information about OpenUK and what the organisation does to support Open Source – OpenUK