Adapting to the Change

How are you &/or your team adjusting to this change?

We would love to hear from any staff member or unit telling us how they are adjusting / coping / finding this new way of working and of life! Drop us an mail to
Michelle Nelson (Academic Services) reflects on her experience of remote working over the last few weeks.  

"I really didn’t think I’d find remote working so hard. I had been hot desking in UCC for almost a year, was used to using the virtual app and Microsoft teams and considered myself to be pretty adaptable. However, for the first week, I found it incredibly difficult to focus on anything work-related.It felt like each day had 72 hours and I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin that being outside, exercising and talking to friends were the only things that brought me any relief. I found myself sea-swimming in the mornings, walking and running in an effort to exhaust myself but would wake up in the middle of the night with my mind and heart racing -  trending tweets and news headlines feeding my anxiety demons. 

This discomfort and anxiety was completely new to me and I didn’t quite know how to process it. A really useful article in the Harvard Business Review names the discomfort I was feeling  as grief.   It is worth a read. Colleagues at work laughed when I mentioned how tough I was finding it being at home by myself and blamed it on the fact that I’m an extrovert and get my energy from being around people. 

Colleagues with children bemoaned the fact that they were juggling home schooling with work and inevitable arguments with spouses caused by too much time spent together under the dark threatening cloud of Covid 19.  They considered me lucky to live alone. I couldn’t stand being in my own company.  I also felt I was being ungrateful when so many others have greater struggles and worries  - did I really have anything to complain about? I thought about all the items on my ‘to-do’ list that I couldn’t motivate myself to get done. I wondered how others were so productive when I seemed to be in some sort of work paralysis.

It has taken some time to wrap my head around my new reality but this week I have turned a corner and the ‘to-do’ list is steadily being tackled. I have experimented with a few things that have worked for me that might be of use to others who are experiencing a similar dip in motivation. Each day I focus on doing something productive, something social and something involving movement.  I start my day with my daily ‘commute’ but have exchanged my car for my runners. Within 2km of my house I have access to a beautiful waterside run and I use my 30 minute morning commute time to go for a run and clear my head.

I start my workday with a team meeting which is as much about the social check-in to see how people are doing as it is about work updates.   I create a timetable for myself and focus on something productive to achieve each day. I have also started scheduling virtual coffee breaks with some work colleagues  - not the same as the Common Room but it adds some structure to my day and is a nice way to keep in touch, using Microsoft teams. I make sure I take a proper lunch break and get out in the fresh air.

I’ve stopped looking at the news headlines and limit myself to the RTE news at 9pm  - looking at too much social media and reading covid-related whatsapp group messages was really increasing my anxiety levels. Since limiting my news intake I find it easier to focus on other things. I have a ‘covid buddy’ I ring when I start catastrophising and she does the same for me. I also journal when I start to feel stressed and I find writing helps me to rationalise my thoughts.

A coaching session also helped me identify I was struggling because I felt I should be doing something useful so I looked into some volunteering opportunities in my community. The coaching session also helped me articulate how I was feeling without any fear of being judged.

Every evening at 6pm I do an online yoga class followed by cooking – something I love but don’t usually have time to do. I also schedule some group video chats with friends in the evening and check in with some elderly neighbours by phone or text. Forming a routine has definitely helped me and there are certain aspects of working from home that I’ll probably end up missing when I return to life in UCC with its parking stresses and coffee queues!

As part of my 'new routine', I hope to update on my progress weekly!


Staff Wellbeing & Development

First Floor, Block E, Food Science Building, UCC, T12 YN60