After 3 months into my coop with SFU, our team began working remotely from home since mid-March. It has been interesting adapting to these strange times. I have taken online classes before, so this isn’t my first experience studying from home. However, when you’re working remotely and your work involves other stakeholders that are internal and external to the team, it can become quite challenging.
A typical day in my life working from home starts around 8:30 AM. I get ready, make some breakfast and get dressed as if I’m still working. I’ve found that I am more focused and productive when I put on something nice, as if I’m dressed for the office. I would be lying if I said I never wore sweatpants during some workdays, but dressing up improved my mood and made me feel prepared for the day ahead of me.
At around 9:10 AM, I will log onto to Slack and go through my messages, check the Kanban board on Jira (Jira is a software that helps track and manage projects), and see if there are any new tasks that I can pick up for the day, or continue working on previous tasks from the day before.
By 10 AM, everyone is online. We have a daily standup meeting on Zoom to update each other on what we’ve done the previous day and what we will be doing on that day. Typically, a standup meeting is a meeting where everyone in the team shares any necessary project updates while standing up. The purpose is to keep the team informed as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, since working from home, we do not actually stand up anymore. Throughout the day, if I have any questions, I will send a message to my coworkers on Slack or ask to call on Zoom.
Initially, I didn’t find the first week working from home too drastically different than what we were used to. We were still able to continue our tasks as usual, hold meetings online, and I didn’t face any problems with focusing. However, in the second week, I found myself feeling quite isolated. I missed taking lunch breaks with other co-op students and having casual conversations with everyone in the office. There were some days where I found myself only messaging colleagues through Slack, without having a proper conversation with anyone else.
At first, there were difficulties with communication in the team, which were quickly resolved. However, the main challenge for me was finding a way to separate my personal and work life when both are physically intertwined in one space. One of the things that I appreciate about working as opposed to studying is that when I leave the office, I am able to leave my work behind. There isn’t a paper I have to worry about writing, or an exam that I have to study for. With working remotely and having my work and personal space all in one, I easily lose track of time and get lost in my work.
Entering the third week of working from home, I’ve realized how important it is to balance between my work and personal life. I’m grateful that I still have work and can work from home while others may not be able to do the same. Work has kept me productive and busy. It keeps me distracted from the pandemic. I also think that this is a great opportunity to dedicate some time to the things I have always wanted to do, such as learning Spanish, taking online courses from Linkedin Learning, and finishing SFU’s free Effective Intercultural Communication course.