Working from home

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The current Corona situation forces many of us to work from home. This is especially a challenge for scientists that have to get their lab or field work done. Teaching suddenly needs to be implemented online, and students are complaining that the schedule is different from their normal curriculum. Home office is also a struggle for those whose work is otherwise not compatible with staying home, for example, because they cannot afford a computer or need special technical equipment.

In addition to that, working from home comes with additional challenges posed by our loved ones: kids and pets demand our attention and keep us away from work. It’s noisy, because mechanics are working in the neighbourhood, and the walls are thin. Other homeworkers might be alone, because contracts in foreign countries hinder their travel and personal contact to family and friends. Loneliness and fear of contracting the disease take their toll and pave the way for mental illnesses but psychologists are overstrained. The fridge with alluring snacks is far too comforting and close to the home office desk. Since the usual way to and from work is missing, we sit too much and start to feel it by gaining weight and suffering from back pain. In short, our productivity is likely to suffer and cease tremendously.

Women might be especially affected by this, because children, cooking and household are still too often our business, as is satisfying the boss’s needs, who impatiently waits on the other side of the telephone conference. Even in the middle of a pandemic, constant productivity might be the (inappropriate) expectation. I feel like everyone should be more relaxed when it comes to deadlines in the current crisis. Pressure is so inappropriate right now! There is no immediate solution other than raising the awareness that such a situation requires a period of adaptation and development of new coping strategies. What helped me a lot is giving the day a reasonable structure. Scheduling meetings frequently helps to stay in contact with boss and colleagues. Making a plan what I will work on at a particular day helps me to stay focused, and I also schedule some time for a walk or run outside to get some daylight. I also use a short, daily meditation to calm my mind, and I have a small diary to take note of even small accomplishments and pleasures to get my focus on what is working well. I so much hope everyone is doing fine and found ways to cope with the special circumstances. But if not, be sure, that’s okay as well.

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