A couple of weeks ago I was part of the Australia/New Zealand Chapter virtual get together. Belinda Gibbons, from the University of Wollongong, started the virtual meeting by asking everyone to share what they could see outside their window, from wherever they were currently working. As Belinda put it “moving into the online world means we are not all on the same country – we are all in different places.” She said that she got the idea from the University’s local Aboriginal knowledge holder, Jade Kennedy, who started a recent virtual meeting with the same question. “Looking out our window enabled us to come together when we couldn’t physically be together. Never before has our place or our country felt so real as it does at the moment for me”.
I asked Signatories around the world to share with us the view they have outside the window of their home offices and their tips for working from home. I’ll start with my view (above). There is a huge tree outside my window that is full of black cockatoos. Apparently, these birds are endangered, but you’d never know it because I can count at least 30 of them right now in the tree. They make a lot of noise which the neighbours hate, but I love, maybe because I have only been listening to them for the past two years. They used to live on a nature reserve close by that was cleared to make way for a new hospital so I’m glad they found a new home in this tree. Click here for my tips on working from home.
Belinda Gibbons, University of Wollongong, Australia
“This is my view at the moment – I have set up a desk in my bedroom that looks out onto the beautiful Wollongong escarpment. This range has been in existence for over 250 million years and I feel so blessed to be able to look at it and acknowledge the wisdom and knowledges it holds. Wollongong is on the South Coast of Australia. Of course in my window sill are the SDGs and a heart symbol alongside my Amethyst crystal that is hopefully ensuring a space of clarity and calm. In terms of tips for working from home, make sure there is always wine in the cupboard……to acknowledge that this is very different and to keep communication lines open within my home and with my work colleagues and students. Oh, and to not just put a shirt on over my pyjamas for my 9.30 zoom team call!!!!”
Jill Bogie, The Gordon Institute of Business Science, South Africa
“I have a great space in my apartment that is right next to a huge window that looks out onto the trees and gardens. I have the window open most days – now that there is an abundance of fresh air – I am very grateful for the much-reduced air pollution levels. There is a host of birds of all shapes, sizes and colours that flit around, sing and chirp away constantly. It is a very productive space and a lovely view even if my desk looks rather messy. I feel very lucky to have this working environment, but I do miss being on campus. I am fortunate in that at GIBS faculty already ‘hot desk’ and often work flexibly between campus and our home offices. So, I am accustomed to working from home but not at the current level of intensity. Here are my top tips: Treat every weekday as a working day – adjust your normal schedule to allow for family responsibilities and break time. Get up and get ready for a working day – get dressed properly and assume you will have work meetings via videoconferencing. Make sure you keep connected to colleagues – there is no need to be working alone when you are working from home. Be careful to avoid too much weekend working unless that is what you have always done. Make sure you have all the technology you need and a good wifi connection. Be careful that your network is set up to use security protection and remember to take your back-ups and do security scans regularly. If you have an expert at home – any teenager will meet the job specs – then clearly that is ideal. Look after yourself every day – whether it is a coffee break or an exercise break or time with your family – working from home does not mean isolation. Also take the time to do things that you would not normally have time to do – if your work commitments and teaching schedule allow. If you have more time in your day it is a gift, so use it wisely. Enjoy the flexibility and the freedom – and be thankful that you are no longer sitting in traffic jams or doing lengthy commutes every day.”
Paul Palmer, Cass Business School, United Kingdom
“This is my view at the moment – I have set up a desk in the kitchen dining area which looks out onto the back garden. My wife Roz and I bought the house to be our family home but in particular we were taken by the garden space, which is one third of an acre. The Garden has matured and changed over the years – at the bottom where there is a line of Rhodos there is a play area which includes a pirate boat! Below that is another wild area which goes into a stream – with planks – you can hopefully see a theme! – Both our boys are now grown up so at last flowers and trees. The cherry trees in full blossom are replacing the previous football, rugby and cricket grounds! The Garden reflects our changing lives so in this terrible time I realise just how lucky we are to have it.”
Nikolay Ivanov, PRME Secretariat, United States This is the view from the ‘home office’ these days. Sometimes grey, sometimes sunny. There is graffiti on the building walls and the overground subway characterizes this area of Brooklyn. Empty trains and people on the rooftops dancing, exercising, reading, enjoying sunsets and relaxing – another new reality around here. In the centre of the view is the word LEARN. Certainly, a lot of lessons learned and a lot of potential for changes on personal, professional, and community levels during this devastating situation. Gustavo Loiola, ISAE, Brazil
“Here is a photo of the view from my office here at home! On one side I can see buildings, and on the other, far in the background, the mountains. We have beautiful and sunny days here in Curitiba.We are now finishing the first month working from home. The initial adaptation process was difficult. It was especially tricky to adjust schedules and define ways of measuring productivity. What worked most for me was to organise a routine that includes rest times, physical exercises, family and home care, in addition to defining exactly the start and end times of “business hours”, to avoid spending all the time checking emails and notifications.”
Arielle Chaifetz, PRME Secretariat, United States
This is the view outside my window in New York City. You can hear and see the daily 7:00 p.m. cheering for all service workers. While staying at home can be very isolating, I am humbled and brought back to reality when cheering for service workers and their heroism over the past few months. Tips for working at home: the FitOn app is free and has amazing workouts, stretching classes, yoga, etc.”
Lisa M. Gring-Pemble, George Mason University, United States
“Bright purples stems of ajuga, large white peonies with enormous bright yellow centers, happy pansies in shades of lilac mixed with lime-green creeping jenny and purple heuchera smile at me from patios and porches. Vases filled with Japanese painted ferns and ruffled pink peonies and a potted gardenia grace my indoor working spaces. These constant reminders of nature, life, and beauty are present wherever my rotating office to various indoor and outdoor spaces (weather permitting) takes me and have aided the transition to this new life we are leading. Other indulgences such as trying new forms of exercise and creative and colorful recipes all add some zest to the days. Finding a rhythm and balance in daily routines, practicing forgiveness when the days don’t go as planned (what day goes as planned?), and creating opportunities for regular family, friend, and colleague check-ins go a long way. And truthfully, some days it’s accepting slightly organized chaos as when my 14 year old is having a virtual clarinet lesson, while my husband and I are trying to have work conference calls, our lovable labradoodle is barking at something exciting outside, and my first year college student is taking a virtual quiz. We each are experiencing this transition to school and work life differently with unique perspectives and challenges, and taking time to acknowledge those while also taking time to create family connections is especially important. Above all, I am mindful and grateful that we are in a position to work and be able to work from home—it is a privilege, indeed.”
Priya Sharma, Monash University of Malaysia, Malaysia
“I just took this, this morning. View of the morning sunrise from my balcony where I work in the mornings. No filter here either. It was pretty amazing. I am in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The nation has been on Movement Control Order since 18th March. It was extended just today by our Prime Minister until 12th May. I wake up early to the sounds of birds chirping in my balcony. It’s a wonderful way to start the day. What I find useful is to not to read or watch too much news on the pandemic. I meditate every morning just before starting work. It keeps me centered, and I am able to work productively from a peaceful state.”