Office Space: the realities of working remotely during a pandemic

Words by Emily Price. Images by Kira Butters using the virtual photography app https://theshutter.app

From vaccinations in an eerie pub to admin in the bath, people are working from the most extraordinary places.

It’s been almost a year since working environments were reshaped to obey Covid-19 restrictions and working from home has become part of the new normal.

Andrew Pearsall is a lecturer at the University of South Wales. Before the pandemic, he preferred to spend his workday on his feet, moving around a classroom packed full of students.  

Now, Andrew is teaching huddled beneath an electric blanket in his freezing 170-year-old valleys home.  

Andrew said: “There is a serious lack of movement and exercise in my working day now which is a problem for me. Some days I’ll sit down for classes at 9:30am and stay there until 6:30pm except for when I grab a quick lunch. 

“I’ve invested in a decent chair, webcam, upgraded the broadband and a friend gave me a second monitor which has been a revolution in how I prepare and set up a screen to share with students.” 

Andrew’s workload has increased since the pandemic as he used to offer feedback to students during face-to-face classes. Now, he must review it via email or online tutorial which slows the process down. 

Andrew said: “It’s easy to miss the students who don’t interact and slip away. Those are the people that really need one to one support and it can take some time for me to catch up with them.” 

Working from home has meant being away from the office and using technology to stay connected with colleagues. 

But for Cat Lothrian, her work space has spilled over into a very private and unexpected part of her home.  

Cat is a Sports Photography Manager based in Farnham and she does her admin work whilst in the bath.  

She said: “I live with my mum and working in the bath is the only personal space I get. I spend up to four hours in there so it seems the most sensible use of my time.” 

As the immunisation program gathers momentum, Coronavirus vaccination hubs are popping up across the UK. 

Sian Lane is a vaccination programme coordinator in Plymouth and the site where she works was originally a pub.  

She said: “On a busy clinic day it’s full of people but there are other times I’m alone there and it can be a bit lonely and spooky.” 

When Sian isn’t organising vaccines, she spends some of her time struggling to work at home.  

She said: “I don’t have an office set up; I have to use my kitchen. I try to ignore my cats and all the pots and pans stacked up. At least I have a table and chair which is more than some have coped with.” 

New research has found more than half of employees want to work from home for most of the week. 

The survey by Zurich Insurance found 59 percent of people would rather spend half their working week at home.  

Dinsmore Greep is a technical surveillance officer and has found the switch to working from home easier than when he worked at the office.  

Dinsmore said: “There’s no commuting, it saves money on fuel and I don’t have to wear a uniform. The lack of social contact and working in the same room I sleep is a downside though.”  

Some people forced to adapt to working from home have converted their space in order to reach high and follow their dreams.  

Amanda Ann Wood is an urban farmer and set up a business growing micro-greens during the first lockdown.  

She brought the outdoors inside by covering every windowsill with fresh and delicious micro-greens.  

Amanda said: “I worked in horticulture and floristry for many years before I moved on to a creative career route. I wanted to get back to my roots and revive my horticulture skills and my love of growing food.  

“By the time my educational job came to an end in September 2020 I had the beginnings of a business plan underway.” 

Amanda saw an advert for Business Wales and took part in a workshop and regular meetings to explore her business ideas further.  

One year on and she is trading as The Micro Greengrocer from one of her converted bedrooms.  

Amanda said: “I love working from home and having a completely different routine to my day which is more harmonious and peaceful. This was totally part of my plan to change direction with my career, or should I say, vocation.” 

Having extra space to convert is not a luxury all at home workers have been lucky enough to have.  

Kerryn Husk is a senior researcher at the University of Plymouth and his new office space is his three years old daughter’s bedroom.  

Kerryn said: “At the start of the pandemic, my wife and I started working from home and we needed separate rooms. 

“I set up a small desk in my daughter’s bedroom and it’s been fine. It’s bright and airy, the only major drawback is having to explain why there is a hippo over my left shoulder and Peter Rabbit over my right.” 

Working from home has allowed Kerryn to spend more time watching his children grow and exploring the beautiful area they live in.  

He said: “We have managed to get out in our local area more for long walks around the moors and through the woods. Like a great many other people, it’s better to focus on the positives rather than the negatives!” 

Categories: Feature, Uncategorized

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