Working from home, not working alone

It’s April 2020 and at around a month or so into the Covid19 lockdown we thought it would be useful to share stories on how InterInvest members and their colleagues are feeling and coping with working from home. We’ll add to this page as we receive updates. If you want to contribute your story, email contactus@staging.interinvest.org

Ryan Alexander

“Moving from the high energy and constant chatter of client calls has certainly been a sudden change. I’m making an effort to call colleagues rather than messaging and taking a moment to have that ‘coffee machine chat.’ Our Friday quizzes are a nice way to have some fun and finish the working week together. Living with 5 others means I’m rarely without interaction but it does mean we have to use every possible work surface – including in the garden! This isn’t going to last forever so enjoy those silver linings.”

Evan Liu

“While I am fortunate to not be alone in lockdown (my partner might beg to differ), I am also a 99% Extrovert on the Myers-Briggs scale. So suffice it to say, lockdown has severely limited my ability to interact with people and fill my extroverted social energy tank, so the importance of finding ways to channel that energy has been essential to enduring this lockdown.

Aside from the Netflix, BBC, and ITV binges, having regular catch up with friends (albeit virtual) has really helped fill that extroverted energy and we have also gotten into the habit of going for ~8 mile walks around SE London as our daily exercise on the weekends (with the occasional curb-side social distancing chats with friends along the way). Finally, as my picture shows, I have channelled that energy also into trying new things like a new hair style, but most importantly, becoming a new cat dad.”

Enna Cooper

“A friend said recently that, if trauma lives in the body, queer loneliness lives in the bones. It rang truer than I would have liked.

Even before this whole mess of a situation, I struggled with loneliness and a sense of isolation, I was short of social contact, I was touch starved. Back when I was sorting myself out, coming to terms with my gender dysphoria, changing my life in the way that I had to, while that shrunk my world and took a toll on my social life, my friends’ lives moved on. They moved in with their now long-term partners, they settled down, they, unintentionally, left me behind. Even before this, I craved the company of other people, if only to feel less alone in the moment.

Then this.

All of this.

I should be in Stockholm right now. Then Copenhagen, then Oslo, visiting offices I’ve not yet been to, seeing colleagues I’ve not previously met in person. Later this week, back in London, I was meant to be out watching bands with friends twice in four nights, part of a crowd, a shared experience. Instead I sit at home, in the room in which I spend nearly all of my time now, my desk only two metres from my bed, each day the same as it has been for the last six weeks, the same as it will likely be for some time to come.

Socially distant, locked down, remote. Separated from the people who keep me going, struggling to make connections, spending too much time alone, overthinking and overanalysing things I’d be better off thinking about less.

There are people I care for, and worry about, all over the world, from Australia and Hong Kong across Europe to the US. The scale of this is overwhelming. I can’t begin to comprehend it. I no longer try to do so. I stopped reading the news weeks ago.

I look for distraction. I focus on the small things that offer solace, that lift my spirits, that give me something else to think about, something else to feel. I wear full make up every day. I post selfies on social media for fleeting validation. I wear different perfume each day, to make each day slightly different than the last. I dress up as if going to a posh event then just sit on my bed watching movies. I watch Twin Peaks because the theme tune soothes my soul. I’ve cried alone in bed, I’ve cried over the phone to my parents, I’ve cried on zoom to friends. I listen to music that matches my melancholic mood and blurs the passing of time. I dance around my room to music that belies that mood. I walk in the woods and wish I could befriend the crows. I start to write about music again. I buy flowers every time I go for groceries. I stay up too late. I accept every meeting invite, to see faces, to have my face seen. To feel more normal, to feel less disassociated, to feel part of something bigger than myself.  A daily huddle with my team, weekly fika with our Nordic offices, Friday quizzes with London colleagues.

I hope that, should we have to go through this again, I won’t have to do it alone again, that I won’t have to do it while single again, that there could be someone to fall asleep next to, or to at least talk to late at night. I wonder how long it will be before it’s possible to kiss someone without worrying that I may be asymptomatic, without worrying that I could unknowingly make them ill.

I think about all of this, and I’m sad, and I’m lonely.

And yet, despite all of this, I’m also strong, and I’m also resolute. I can, and I will, get through this. I will help hold up those around me in need of support. We can, and we will, get through this, together.”

Cathy Denyer O’Leary

“I’ve spent a lot more time exercising than usual given that I don’t have my 3-hour daily commute back and forth to Brighton. We’ve been lucky enough to have some colleagues who are also training fitness instructors put on weekly classes for us so I’ve been doing Body Combat, HIIT and yoga! I’m balancing it out nicely by eating a lot of cake. As I’m lucky enough to live right by the sea, my wife and I use our daily walk allowance to walk along the seafront and sometimes even get a paddle in when the tide it out.”

Suzanne Whitlock

“Music, books, film and cooking are my distractions. I’ve set up a Spotify playlist called Quarantunes. I let Spotify suggest songs and share any gems with friends. I’ve finally read Call Me By Your Name. I still prefer the film! 

Birdsong is the standout feature of the lockdown working day. The sun rises and comes through the bedroom window each morning while the birds sing LOUDLY, and this has become a natural alarm clock. 

It’s been glorious weather here, and I work at the back of the house with doors open onto the garden. The birds tweet all day; my colleagues can hear them on video calls. Two particularly cheeky birds have appeared this week, repeatedly hopping up to the door looking for… worms?  

The garden has flourished, and without a gardener, (I’m too lazy to deal with it), the lawn has turned into a meadow flecked with lilac, blue and white flowers.

I am lucky. I have a contract which is providing an income for now. I have a garden. My family and friends are ok so far. And I have a much coveted Ocado delivery. I stay thankful and just try to take things a day at a time.”

Victor Meyer

“My partner has kindly given up his office for me to use and has relocated to the guest bedroom. The dog has been sent to keep an eye on me though! Most of my team have not worked from home with any great frequency so the new dynamics are taking a bit of getting used to. But so far so good.”

David Millar

“I’m fortunate that my housemate is stuck here with me so I’m not completely alone. A lot of my team work from home regularly so we are quite used to being in different locations and skyping in. Top tips from me are to use video and not just voice for calls and meetings and have chatrooms where acceptable office chit-chat can carry on.”

Astrid Schmitz

“My team work in different locations, so we are used to working remotely to some extent. Lots of video calls, chats over Skype and picking up the phone more rather than just emailing help us stay connected in this new situation. If the weather allows, I set myself up on the terrace for some time in the afternoon to get some sunshine and see or hear life around me. I’m very fortunate to live right by a park and get to exercise in the green during lunch time, sometimes accompanied by a friend and her dog.” 

Jeremy Koziol

“I’m fortunate that despite living in the middle of London, I have plenty of green space to enjoy and to keep fit in.  A lovely stroll along the canals admiring the boats or a run through Hyde Park.  Lots of video and voice calls, have to keep connected somehow.”

Deon Pillay

“This pandemic has taught me that as human beings we broadly face similar challenges, irrespective of our sexuality or gender. As an independent single man, it has taught me about loneliness, a feeling I never experienced before! As a social being, I have felt a greater appreciation of human interaction and noticed the lack of it.

I have had to face the harsh reality of falling ill and not having someone around to take care of me. There is the concern of having parents abroad and not knowing how to support them remotely. Losing loved ones and not being able to attend funerals. The appreciation of neighbours, and a renewed concern and compassion for those less fortunate or vulnerable. A concern for children or young adults who use school, college or work as a place of escape from an abusive or difficult family situation and how this change might impact their mental health and wellbeing.

On the positive side, it’s taught me DIY: I know, even I was shocked! It has helped renew my passion for cooking and taught me how to make short bread using just three ingredients. Its taught me that we live in a world driven by technology and the social interaction is now a virtual reality. Most importantly it has taught me the importance of human kindness!  Irrespective of our socio-economic backgrounds, religious views, ethnicity, sexuality and/or gender identity, we are coming together in support of each other, from charity contributions, making PPE, food hampers or volunteering our personal time. Let us not forget the teachings of Covid19, instead let us use it to make a societal difference.”

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