I was asked to document my experience of covid from a working perspective, to live alongside Kristina’s fantastic photography. I write this from working hell. I can only hear the sound of my neighbour’s lawn mower and I’m struggling to focus on the task at hand. I guess it’s the perfect summary of working during covid.
On the plus side it’s been great to be home seeing the kids, getting more time with the family. Like so many other families it all started out full of good intentions for the lockdown. Within the first week we built a den, a swing, go karts, and the garden was pristine! But within a fortnight, home education had taken a downturn. Overcome by tantrums and arguments, we quickly gave up. I really struggled with getting a healthy balance of working from home on spending quality time with my children. Being based on the kitchen table was extremely stressful. I couldn’t focus on work or family, failing on all fronts was make me stressed, I hated the thing and missed the community at work.
I’ll confess that along with suffering having to work and play at the same time, I’ve used all sorts of methods to allow me to work during this lockdown with two children in the house. During our last board meeting I had the two of them in the lounge with a DVD and a picnic and a stern warning that I was not to be disturbed. Any fighting would see the LEGO kept on top of the fridge for at least a week.
I had arranged a meeting with the Welsh government’s chief scientific officer to discuss a very important project. So, I was on this call and all the sudden swoosh right next to me, the Lego was out! The photo was taken whilst I was on that call.
I was one the people who totally underestimated the impact of the pandemic wave which was upon us. China, Japan there on the other side of the world I kept thinking…USA, UAE, Italy then France and London ummm… It wasn’t until the news was full of it on our screens at work and during my weekly shop the shelves were empty, I mean I genuinely needed toilet roll…
It’s during a time of loneliness I began to see us all come together. I was talking more to my daughter now than before, being linked into conversations on Zoom with her and her friends was fun and we have had many a giggle. It was during this time I felt privileged to be able to come into work…they literally became my family over this time. I was glad I was able to see and talk to others. We started helping with the visors and meeting other people in the community and hearing their stories of how we all were helping each other. I was amazed at how many people banded together to make all the face shields; schools, colleges and individuals and companies all who at one time had no real connection were now ‘brothers in arms’ working together.
People are asking ‘will we ever go back to normal’… I say I hope not!!! It’s not normal that we didn’t know our neighbours, it’s not right we were not bonded and acknowledging the good and positive things. I am so lucky to be where I am, I’ve walked on the Beach with no footprints in the sand, not a sole in sight a whole beach to myself, heard the birds and nature sing in the silence from the traffic. I’ve often been jealous of people in towns and cities but I now feel blessed to live on the Island, an island which now I hope will grow as we have shown how much we can all do when we come together and utilise what we have on our doorsteps.
A global pandemic really makes you think. It’s much more normal than you would imagine. I kept working, only now I was working on making PPE visors which our government had failed to buy. There was no supply chain, so we became a supply chain. After an hour it felt like a regular addition to the working day. My hours increased, but working on a COVID solution made me forget about COVID existing. It was nice to see human faces. Sometimes they were hidden behind masks. And visors. We made 8 thousand.
Now I’m back working in my spare room. I get my first hair appointment in 5 months. I can’t touch my mother’s hair. My hairdresser wears a visor.
Lockdown has been a strange time for me, as it has for many others. It’s thrown our usual ways out the window and forces us to adjust to the new ‘normal’. In my usual work, an important part of the job is to go out and meet people and communities to coordinate innovative projects, so the idea of having to work at home by myself all day every day was difficult.
I was so glad to be a part of the effort to create PPE for the NHS and care homes. It’s shown me what’s possible to achieve when individuals, businesses, and other movements come together to solve a particular problem. Overnight, we became expers on the different types of visor frames (What do you need, a Prusa or Verk?) the materials (Is this one PETG or PLA?!) and the clear visors (Oh no this one is an 868, not 888!!). It’s an experience that I will never forget.
Wow what a whirlwind project! Normal work stopped overnight, and we were confronted with a need for visors in a time of collective emergency. It was incredible how fast the community moved to address a real and practical need, doing everything we could to help protect front line workers. I was very pleased to be able to play a small part in fighting back against the virus. I was compelled to help and was proud to be able to put my skills to good use. I had three 3D printers in my garage printing 24/7 for weeks and commuted to M-SParc as needed to help assemble and distribute visors.
It was amazing how quickly we self organised, resolved problems and came up with practical solutions.
I sincerely hope that we can learn something about collaborating so effectively and efficiently from the project.
We have an ‘office’ in the house which was fine until I actually needed to use it day in day out. It is in the middle of the house and has 4 doors to the living room, kitchen, a bedroom and to the garden! It therefore became increasingly impractical to work there with 3 children between the ages of 8 and 13 running amok. My wife was also becoming increasingly annoyed at hearing my zoom meetings throughout the day, and became very familiar with all of Menter Môn’s projects!
Another drawback of having my office in the house was that I could never leave work. It was constantly there. It was too easy for me to sit down at 7pm to respond to an email and find myself still hunched over the laptop an 10pm! In the end my wife told me I needed to move out and suggested I move the caravan to the side of the house so I could use the WiFi. While it is far from being ideal it does at least create some distance, roughly 3 meters, between home and work. And as I often tell people on zoom, I am allowed back in the house in the evening!
As I type this my back is aching as I am hunched over the laptop. Although I have a proper chair the table in the caravan is too low. As a company we have offered to provide staff with the right equipment, but I forgot to ask for anything myself. Also when I rains I can’t hear anything, and when it’s hot it gets really hot!
I was always a reluctant caravaner but it does offer an affordable holiday option for a family of 5. However, my relationship with this 12 year Sterling Europa may have been altered forever, and I doubt I will ever see it in the same light again.
I was required to remain in the office during the lockdown to ensure all my colleagues could connect and work remotely. I did this happily as my dad and brother were unfortunately out of work for a little while but were annoying me at home. Usually I am a very social person so I did miss my colleagues, though not waiting for the coffee machine or having no one moan about the aircon has been bliss. I have now finally resumed my weekly haircuts and don’t look a scruff anymore so I’m looking forward to everyone being back.