Remote Working Chronicles — musings from a UFV staff member

Alison Reeves taking her computer outside for a change while working from home.

Editor’s note: Like people all over the world, UFV employees received a sudden shock in mid-March when many of us started working from home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many of us had never imagined a scenario where we would be based at home for our UFV duties, working remotely from colleagues, and sharing home space with other family members who were working or studying from home, or spending long days alone, depending on our domestic situation. Combine that with child care, elder care, home schooling, pet-butler duties, and day-to-day challenges, and you have a recipe for extra stress.

Alison Reeves recently completed a two-week practicum for the communications team within University Relations as part of her Public Relations certificate program. Having noted that she kept a humorous chronicle on Facebook of her time working from home and sharing a small basement suite with her adult children, we asked her to share some of those posts and reflect on how she was feeling when she made them. (Alison was until recently a full-time UFV staff member. She has left UFV to take on a new position at Cascade Aerospace.)

Here’s her report:

When we were faced with working from home due to COVID-19, I was not sure what that meant and I had questions. What would it look like for me? How would this all work? How long would this be a thing?

I knew most of my work could technically be done online but I have never worked from home and do not consider myself a techie person.

I faced logistical issues right away, as I have no dedicated office space at home and live in a small two-bedroom basement suite. At the time one of my adult children was living with me, and due to COVID was home quite a bit. We were later joined by my other adult child, who was living abroad when COVID broke. This made for some tight quarters.

I referred to my eldest child as my housemate in my Facebook posts as he did not wish to be identified through his mother’s musing on social media. Although I think that I am hilarious, my housemate does not share the same opinion!

When remote working actually started for me I decided to chronicle the challenges and success of my/our new working environment on my Facebook profile. My goal in doing this was to practise my communication skills, as in addition to an employee I am a current UFV student. I also wanted to share and to laugh, mostly at myself, during what could be some of the most difficult times we are face in our lifetimes. In the end, it proved to be a more of a much-needed release and coping mechanism for me than I thought it would be.

I have included some of my excerpts from my personal Facebook account. These posts in no way reflect the views of UFV and are my personal thoughts/opinions.

Remote Working Chronicles … Day 1

Right from the get go (Day 1) I knew this would be hard for me; I’m very chatty.

Chronicles of remote working (from home) Day 1…. this place has no water cooler to gossip at… how can one be expected to work in these conditions?

——

Here is the lack of tech knowledge showing, I also never ever did get my printer set up — no lack of trying on IT’s part — they have been amazing.

Remote working chronicles … Day 2 Emails

Finally have all my emails set up. It took most of the day yesterday. I’m not proud.

Realizations…

  1. I am not cut out for IT. Apologies to IT! It was like them helping me smell the colour purple. Thank you! Honestly, it’s appreciated.
  2. Five email addresses may be too many. I now have earned the title Email Princess; that’s the polite term that I assume IT gave me.
  3. Five email addresses are too many.
  4. I need to reflect on my need for so much attention.

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Even commuting to the kitchen office was hard in those early days.

Remote working chronicles … Day 5 Commuting

I have been lucky enough to have never commuted more than 30 minutes to work. My most recent commute was about 10 minutes.

My current commute is about 3 seconds and 11 metres from bedroom to kitchen. (Caveat: these are rough estimates and math is not a strength of mine.)

I was 5 minutes late for work today…true story! This commute seems so much longer than the rest with more distractions!

——

It became apparent quickly that this working from home was not for me (a chatty Cathy). It would require all my personal fortitude to not go into the yard and randomly chat incessantly with myself.

Remote working chronicles … Day 6 Humans

I miss humans, well most of you anyways!! Most of you that know me, may know or remember that I love to chat, laugh, complain, and rant well, all the things. Doing that at myself is not nearly as fun.

——

Things were starting to go downhill quite quickly as by Day 8 I was shopping for home waxing kits and considering myself an aesthetician.

Remote working chronicles … Day 8 Breaks

It’s important to still take your breaks when working from home and to use that time wisely.

Like today for example, I used my break time wisely to order a DIY waxing kit. It arrives next week.

  • DIY wax kit $12
  • Amazon prime student membership for faster shipping $3.99 per month
  • The makings of a good story and the need for further self-isolation in the event of a waxing disaster Priceless.

——

I had come to realize I was eating non-stop and before COVID I had been working hard to eat healthy and get daily exercise. Being what I consider a lifelong learner, well, just read the post…

Remote Working Chronicles … Day 11 ­ Eating Part 2

I decided to examine my eating, so I joined a food addiction 4-week webinar series. Yes, I’m that girl, a deep dive kind of gal.

You know the kind with few friends but who can’t walk away from a fight/argument either.

Anyways, first 5 minutes we have to complete a checklist, if you check more than 3 boxes you may have an issue. This girl checked all the boxes!

There was a moment of shame but then, another moment of pride because being a student I realized I got 100% = 4.00 GPA. I’m not sure what to do with myself, be proud or full of embarrassment. I’m leaning towards proud.

——

Eating continued to be a COVID theme.

Remote working chronicles … Day 14 The Cafeteria

I miss the cafeteria at work, in particular the scones. My new office has a ‘cafeteria’ but the head chef is kinda crabby and does not appear to be well trained; also the daily menu is never updated.

——

I have always loved music and now thought I could really embrace the listening to music while working. It didn’t last the day before the complaints started rolling in (and I am dating myself with the Alanis Morrissette reference).

Remote working chronicles … Day 17 Music

I love music but can’t always indulge at work, in part because I cannot just listen I have to sing. My coworkers have mentioned this annoying tic that I have, once or twice.

I was informed today by the guy who also occupies my kitchen office but does not seem to work here, that is sounds a bit like dying cats.

Random music played and Alanis Morrissette came on, specifically Thank U.

I encourage you especially those of a certain age to listen to Alanis’s Thank U and see if the song resonates with you the same way it did with me when listening to it in 2020 amidst the COVID chaos.

——

The working from home was starting to wear on me and you may see from the next few posts that I was feeling lonely and isolated.

Remote working chronicles … Day 18 Check ins

Every Monday we have a video check in at work. It’s mostly just how are you doing, managing etc. There is very little work, if any, discussed. These check ins have been wonderful, just a time to chat and touch base, no pressure of a to-do list or what the coming months planning is looking like. Please check in with your family, friends, coworkers, neighbours etc. It could really make a difference in someone’s day or life.

—— 

Remote working chronicles … Day 19 Walls

Most of us have been staring at the same four walls for about four weeks now. Today I feel like I have run full tilt into all four, and those walls hit back with a couple jabs, left hook, right hook, and the final uppercut! I’m out for the count today. My housemate has taken pity on me and while stepping over my body said: “All right, I’ll go to DQ, Mum.” Full disclosure: I may have been moaning (from the fetal position) about how DQ may be the only thing that will give me the will to carry on.

Day 19 additional encounter with my housemate (my lack of tech skills showing)

Housemate: this charger is so slow.

Me: oh, I know it takes forever,

Housemate: do you know why?

Me: no, but it’s strange.

Housemate: Well, it might be because it’s not plugged in!

Me: (stares blankly back).

——

Remote working chronicles … Day 27 Laundry

I have just realized this office has laundry, but only because I have started to wear real and different pants this week. I now have to actually do laundry, because wearing the same pair everyday really wasn’t working anymore.

Even my housemate noticed that I was wearing real pants and asked: “What is going on? What did I miss? Are you ok?”

——

Remote working chronicles … Day 35 Today

Today just was…nothing funny, nothing interesting, it just was…and that’s okay.

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Video meetings and a small basement suite collide.

 Remote working chronicles … Day 46 Zoom

Unmuting yourself and not realizing your housemate is watching a movie with a romantic scene right at that exact same moment. A Zoom faux pas for the history books?

This may or may not be a true story.

——

Things start to look up… at least weather-wise

Remote working chronicles … Day 50 Better weather

Better weather makes me feel better always; it’s nice to see the sun.

 

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 Food: my greatest pleasure, always.

Remote working chronicle … Day 54 Societal expectations of dinner

We need to let this go and embrace that cereal, banana, and peanut butter, or cucumbers and dip, or all of this is dinner. PS: Ice cream can be a full meal too. Just doing my part to eliminate dinner- shaming.

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Business on top, sweatpants and slippers on the bottom. An approach many of us take to dressing for online work.

Clothing is a must, even during COVID.

Remote working chronicles … Day 56 Pants

You know it’s been a long day when you put your after-work jogging pants on backwards. You finally notice the large UBC across your front (typically worn on back) and say “oh well” and carry on with your evening.

PS: new classification for jogging pants…before-work, work, and after-work pairs

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I hope you enjoyed some of my musings and perhaps can empathize. These situations are often funnier or sadder than they may appear in my writing. I know my experience is not the same as anyone else’s and our situations are all unique, but at the risk of sounding like a cliché, we are all in this together. Well, except for the time my housemate announced they had lost 9 lbs during COVID while I had definitely gained at least 9 lbs. That time we were not in this together.

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