So like many of you, I recently discovered home working and the benefits and challenges that can bring. Not only did I need to get to grips with getting the tech I use day to day to work at home (some challenges are bigger than others) but I also had to get my head around not ‘going’ to work. Once I nested and sorted my work zone (in the kitchen) I started to feel a little better about the idea, though I was concerned about how lonely I would find it.
My role at the College for the most part, revolves around student experience and wellbeing at college. Students are not great at communicating via email, so often I found the best was to speak with them was to physically see them and talk. Obviously due to social distancing measure this type of interaction could, at present, no longer take place.
So how was I going to stay connected, not only with people at college but also with my friends and family? I am a social person so the very idea of social distancing is pretty unnerving. First off I needed to get past the negativity and overwhelming thoughts, reminding myself this would be okay.
Thankfully I am part of a supportive team and within hours of leaving college on our last working day on site, a member of the team set up a ‘Work Family’ Whatsapp group. So first thing Monday morning we were all active, sharing funny memes and checking in with each other. This made a huge difference and helped us all settle into our new reality. Following that I received a video Skype call from a work friend, and have since enjoyed many a video meeting, watching colleagues work out how to turn on their camera and unmute their mics (pretty essential when in a video chat). Even the Student Union have adapted to this new way of communicating, holding weekly meeting over Zoom.
Using the tech skills I was learning at work, I soon started to connect with friends and family in the same way, using Skype and Facebook Messenger, which has led to some awkward but funny moments and really made me feel that I am not alone in all this. I just need to make a little more effort. I can no longer rely on ‘bumping into’ someone to have a chat, instead I must seek out this interaction and rely on my fellow colleagues, friends and family to be doing to same thing. If we all work a bit harder to stay connected we all will benefit and thrive in this period of isolation.
I have now come to realise that social distancing doesn’t mean we need to emotionally or socially distance at all. It’s simply physically distancing ourselves. Our minds are still free to go wherever you imagine and with the gift of technology we can remain socially present and emotionally connected.