As a project newbie excited to meet the extended BRECcIA team at our March workshop, it was a pleasure to meet everyone even if only virtually. Of course, I appreciated that nobody wanted to fall ill nor become stranded due to travel restrictions. The rapid escalation of isolating measures in the UK during those two weeks confirmed that the workshop could not have gone ahead in its physical form without recklessly endangering health and flouting the law.
The following Tuesday was the last day our offices were open before lockdown. Not wanting to be told off by security for being in the building at lockdown time, I left for home at lunchtime carrying my monitor, laptop and a bunch of cables protruding from my backpack. I obliged at my partner’s request and went back the same afternoon to salvage her ultra-comfortable (and ultra-heavy) office chair and plants from her office in the business school. Being in the fortunate position to be able to continue working, my daily routine has barely shifted. A makeshift desk using the foldable dinner table forms our new ‘office’ as seen on the photo.
Thus began our isolation.
The team spirit of BRECcIA has been a great antidote to the lethargy of working in isolation from colleagues; every morning a sizeable group meets virtually per Zoom to say good morning and have a sociable half hour with coffee. We’ve even had group calls for colleagues’ birthdays and baby showers! Life does mostly seem to go on as normal, even in strange times. Being humans however, a highly social species, on a deeper level it makes sense that we are not entirely comfortable working exclusively via video and online messaging. The small jokes or spare minutes with colleagues that otherwise punctuate the day are gone, the daily routine feels somewhat more mechanical and disconnected from real life. Meetings are dominated by the inevitable “COVID-19 is delaying this” or “…because of the ongoing situation we don’t have information yet”. I do, however, feel more for those colleagues whose research is on hold due to social distancing measures. Nevertheless, applications including the now ubiquitous Zoom and WhatsApp mean dynamic team efforts can continue relatively seamlessly.
My partner and I have discussed the silver linings of lockdown. Our favourite is that this is probably the first time since early childhood where we really get to appreciate experiencing living at home during all hours of the day. Typically we would be out of the house 8:30am-7pm to go to work and then exercise, then actively go exploring at the weekend. Therefore, living at home is usually reserved for early mornings and evenings around sundown. In a way it’s a pleasant feeling for us not to have the option of leaving the house for entertainment or work purposes, although we appreciate this will most likely be a temporary feeling by the time cabin fever inevitably hits. We are also eating more healthily, since eating out is no longer possible and pre-preparing food to bring to the office the next day isn’t needed.
- I appreciate the fact I can do my work from home while many do not have this luxury
- It’s a great time to enjoy home and extended family time
- Good time to acknowledge the interconnectedness of the World through the internet
- Perfect excuse to exercise at least once a day to be able to go outside
- Lockdown helps one understand what is essential for wellbeing
- There is no benefit from panicking or overconsuming news and media opinions
- Planning ahead is still necessary, as lockdown will not last forever
Great work man! An honest piece of work and I could personally relate as a colleague.
The lockdown enables one to appreciate how little we need for everyday survival. Indeed dry lands are seen as lacking essentials. One could say we are in the dry lands at Thee moment. Time for us to appreciate and value the variability.
I would say the best silver lining of the lockdown has actually been able to attend great quality conferences, such as Waternet 2020 symposium, from the comfort of our homes. As a woman scientist, and mother of 3 young ones, I’ve been unable to attend Waternet and other great water conferences for the past 7 years, due to the challenges of travelling, being pregnant, having a baby, being the primary caregiver of my children, and all logistics involved in travelling to a place for at least a week while having babies and toddlers on tow. I think we all need to rethink how we share knowledge and do capacity building Post- Covid, because this Lockdown season has shown that it is possible to do much more online, and therefore include a great group of mostly women scientists, or other parents/caregivers that were unable to travel to join physical conferences and capacity development programs previously.