Working from home has been a big change from the normal runnings of life during Covid, as many people have experienced in 2020 and 2021. What I didn’t expect, was to be completing University from my little flat. Perhaps it was presumptuous of me to presume that University would run as usual. But it hasn’t been all that bad. It has been a big change from my undergraduate experience though. As Public Relations is an industry that relies heavily on conversation, sharing ideas and meeting/talking to new people and clients, I was hesitant about what the success of online learning would be. In this post, I’m going to talk through some of the highs and the lows of working from home, but would also like the highlight how smooth the process has been thanks to The University of Sunderland.
Without the need to commute to University, I have found myself with more time in the morning to be productive (or have a cheeky lie in). I usually spend the mornings catching up on things I should have done the day before. Anything from house chores to assignments are completed during these free hours. However, as my campus is only a 25 minute walk from where I live, I never had to battle with public transport to get there and enjoyed the early morning walk. I have definitely missed the process of getting ready and having a morning routine, which always helps me get into the learning headspace. Sitting in my comfy clothes, with a bedhead and unwashed face was a habit I fell into during the first few months of online learning, but I have thankfully realised how important it is to get ready and have some sense of normal routine in this unusual situation.
Technology has thankfully never been a barrier for me whilst working from home. I have everything in my home that I need to stream the lectures and take notes. Thank God for modern technology. I have however missed the human interaction. It is somewhat odd to be listening to someone speaking to you when you’re not actually physically with them, for an extended period of time. And the fact that I haven’t met most of my classmates is strange. There is no doubt that speaking to someone online isn’t the same as speaking to someone in person. Has it affected my studies? Not really. We still do teamwork and split off into meeting rooms and the work gets done. It just feels like the physicality is missing and I’ve realised how important that is. Bouncing ideas off other people is something that really aids both University and work and home working has definitely hindered that to some extent.
There a sense of vulnerability speaking to a ‘class’ full of people who you can’t directly see. You would think it would make people feel more comfortable, not having to speak to someone directly, especially if they’re shy. But it feels more intrusive because you’re in a space that is an escape from University and work and is somewhat private to you, in a situation that isn’t usually present in that environment. And don’t get me started on the constant distractions. Working from my flat means trying to ignore the constant outside noise, having to answer the door to the postman mid conversation, and trying to be considerate because my boyfriend is also working from home in the next room. These are all things I have adapted to overtime, but at first, it was a lot to handle.
I have gone from sitting on the sofa, balancing the laptop on my knee whilst trying to write down notes in a notepad simultaneously. Some changes had to be made (for the sake of my back which was getting crippled from the constant sofa slouching). I purchased a desk which sits in my living room, with an old chair and a crate with all my books and relevant University gear beside me. It is SO much easier to get into the University mindset now that I have a dedicated space to learn and I have regained some sense of University normality.
As daunting as working from home sounded, it has become the new normal. I can’t wait for things to return to normal and unfortunately, I may never see my University campus again after this year. But it has been doable and hasn’t hindered my education. I have still managed to get to know those on my course, without meeting most of them face to face. My lecturers have been amazing and flexible which has made the process so much easier and continued as if we were sat in a classroom. We are all in this strange experience together which gives us a sense of unity.
I don’t see home working ending any time soon. This could very well become the new normal. If anything, it has aided me with the experience to work from home in future employment and I also had an excuse to buy a swanky new desk!