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#WFH during the coronavirus pandemic - committee reflections - Katy Hardacre

Updated: Jun 16

During the UK lockdown to limit the spread of coronavirus, we hear from the committee in a series of blog reflections. This week, Katy Hardacre (data analytics and social media) shares how she's getting on in our new norm in a dual-career couple with homeschooling thrown in to the mix, and some "unexpected benefits"!


“We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat” – a dozen words that neatly sum up my experience of working from home during the coronavirus lockdown (kudos @Damian_Barr). While not a superyacht, my “boat” comfortably accommodates a high-schooler, a primary-schooler and a self-employed husband. Yes, we’re all tired after paddling hard for the last 10 weeks, but we are also aware of our good fortune: every day brings news of people in sinking skiffs and others with only an oar to cling to. Some even share their lifeboat with a tiger: simply terrifying. Our lockdown began with a scramble to set up four workstations that wouldn’t leave us needing a chiropractor. Who would have thought the old office chairs, monitors, and cables stuffed up in the loft would ever “spark joy”? I may have permanently fallen off the Marie Kondo wagon: angst over years of tech-hoarding was forgotten in a single morning. Once the physical set-up was in place, time became the next big challenge. My husband cut-back some of his working hours to lean-in to home schooling and lunch making, but with no hard stops imposed by school drop off and after school care pick-up, I found my working days got steadily longer. Forget exceptional performance, just doing what my role requires took everything I had! Figuring out who in my team was overloaded and who needed more to do now took significant extra time and effort than a quick stroll around an open plan office. Tech chats that would have been a 5-minute conversation around a workstation now needed a 30-minute Microsoft Teams call. And to adapt to life without paid childcare, some colleagues now began the day at dawn, while others worked late into the night, leaving few email-free hours for anyone. Blocking-out chunks of my calendar for family/exercise helped a little, but to avoid burn-out some balls simply had to drop (sorry, AXIS social media – come the new normal, I promise I’ll be back). As a peri-menopausal woman, I must say lockdown has offered some unexpected benefits. That moment of realisation in a Teams call that a hot flash may turn MY world upside down, but isn’t all that visible to the rest of the room? Priceless. A workspace that’s the perfect temperature? Great. Knowing my desk fan isn’t annoying my co-workers? Fab. And if “the rage” descends at home, it’s easily managed with 10 minutes fast peddling on the static bike or furious weeding in the garden – far more productive than balling one’s fists and grinding one’s teeth in full view of bewildered, overwhelmingly male colleagues. When the corona storm finally abates, I hope we remember what we learned as the sea raged around us. Just because we are in the same place, that doesn’t mean we are having the same experience. It may take more care and effort, but it is possible to manage teams remotely. And finally, some people are significantly more effective outside the “one size fits all” working environment. Our workplaces need to adapt to these realities.

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