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Here is the fourth and final installment of our chain blog, where our colleagues have discussed their experiences with working at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This post outlines some of the silver linings that we’ve discovered, both personally and professionally, as we collectively try to find our new normal during this pandemic.
Melody Jahanzadeh: I vividly recall the day I first heard about Zoom, just mere weeks ago. My colleagues and I were trying to figure out how to conduct our interviews while practicing social distancing, and someone mentioned a nifty program called Zoom. At the time, my skeptical self questioned how useful it would be.
As it turns out, video conferencing has now become an integral part of my work. Once I got over the initial horror over what I looked like on camera, I’ve used it almost daily in meetings and in interviews. I recently also learned about the “screen share” option, which allowed me to seamlessly play and discuss video evidence with one of my interviewees. Video conferencing has turned out to be a great discovery that I otherwise may not have become aware of, and it holds great possibilities for how I can efficiently carry out my work post-pandemic.
But while self-isolation has led me to discover new technologies at work, it’s also led me to reconnect with a more traditional hobby during my down time: reading. I’ve always loved reading, but the busyness of normal life often made it hard to carve out the time to do so. I’ve found that one upside to the current pandemic is that it’s stripped away my usual distractions and social activities, leaving me with time to read books that were otherwise collecting dust.
Fiona Lee: It’s been gratifying to see the many instances of good humour amongst the RT team. We share amusing clips from the internet, snafus we encounter while working from home, emoji-peppered chats, and cameos of household members who appear with varying degrees of willingness onto our video screens. I’ve enjoyed the laughs. I’ve also enjoyed sharing these more informal aspects of ourselves that we might not have otherwise or previously brought to our work personas. It helps to round out our understanding of each other. There’s a further element of trust in letting your colleagues see you with your (metaphoric and literal) hair down. I’m hopeful about the further collegiality that will have developed when we finally return to the physical office.
In the meantime, I’m on the same page as Melody – reading has been a balm. I joined my first book club of sorts, #TolstoyTogether. We read about 15 pages everyday from War and Peace and talk about it on Twitter and Instagram. It sounds boring but truly, it’s not. Tolstoy is marvellously sly (read, shady) when describing the goings-on of Russian nobility. There’s a side plot involving drunken young men and a stolen bear. Us modern readers dish on the drama, make memes, and steel ourselves for the coming war scenes. While the pandemic has placed us in a collective state of waiting and uncertainty, I take comfort in the small silver lining that we can still read together, and find relevance in the thoughts and actions of 150-year-old characters.
Katharine Montpetit: I have to be honest and say that I found this week tough. Perhaps it was the realization that our “new normal” will likely extend into the summer, or the dreary weather at the beginning of the week. Either way, I had to dig deep to find some silver linings! I will say though that the practice of looking for silver linings – in essence, a gratitude exercise – was really helpful and I would strongly recommend it to others who are feeling a bit low these days.
So what did I find? Professionally, I am grateful that I can schedule interviews with parties and witnesses much more quickly and efficiently, now that travel is no longer a factor. This helps move things along in investigations and avoid delays, which is always welcomed by parties and employers alike. I also really appreciate being able to walk over to my couch and pet my dog after a particularly emotionally charged interview. His barking whenever he hears a loud noise? Not so much.
Personally, I am loving all the different ways my friends and family are using the online world to connect: trivia nights, bingo, scavenger hunts, dance parties – you name it, I’m there. Just one hour spent with friends chatting or playing Quick Draw together on the “Houseparty” app can turn my whole mood around.
This wraps up our “working from home” series. We hope that you have enjoyed some insight into how we are navigating our professional and personal lives during this unprecedented time. Wishing you some “silver linings” for the weeks to come.
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