Universiteit Leiden

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Work in the time of coronavirus: ‘It’s actually become easier to meet people’

How are you doing in these strange and unprecedented times? That’s the question we are asking our colleagues in this series. Jasmijn Mioch, for instance, HRM Learning & Development Adviser.

‘We’re lucky to live in Leiderdorp, in a nice house with a big garden with our cheerful and active three- and five-year olds. Before the coronavirus pandemic I didn’t have my own workspace at home. At the beginning, my boyfriend and I took it in turns to work, with me using his computer. I soon moved to a tiny desk in our daughter’s bedroom. When it became clear that we’d be working from home for the duration, we created a workspace for me: lick of paint on the wall and an extra monitor. I’m very content working in our attic, between the washing and the landing.’ 

Running in the garden

Keep moving

‘At a certain point, I caught coronavirus. I suddenly realised I’d lost my sense of smell and taste. I’m hugely grateful that we didn’t infect anyone around us. We immediately went into quarantine as a family. Luckily, my boyfriend and I only had very mild symptoms. An essential ritual in these times is to keep moving. At least 8,000 steps per day. If I can, I move away from the screen and walk around while I’m doing my phone appointments. Even when we were in quarantine, I still managed to reach my 8,000-step target every day. If I’m not allowed out, I just run around our garden, while the children are playing in the sandpit and on the trampoline.’ 

What surprising insight have you gained this year ‘thanks’ to corona?  

‘This crazy time has helped me discover how creative and flexible we are as a university. In March, we at HRM cancelled all planned courses for staff because of the lockdown., but the first reports showed that many colleagues actually wanted to learn and develop in these times. And a course is a way to stay in touch with one another. 

A new direction

So we gave all our trainers a crash course in online learning in April, a crash course that I developed together with our trainee. Over the past few months, I’ve facilitated lots of online sessions for big and small groups, including for Healthy University Week, the series on Leadership in Online Times and the LRS knowledge café. I’ve discovered that bringing people together online gives me loads of energy and that I can come up with creative working methods to activate and inspire others. It’s a whole new direction for me.’

What do you hope has changed for good?

‘Despite seeing less of one another, it has become easier to meet. For the LRS knowledge café, for instance, you only have to click on a link and you can chat to colleagues who are dealing with the same topics as you, colleagues that you’d otherwise never have met. Obviously, we would like to meet up in person too, but it’s become clear that a lot of good things are possible online too. I hope that the creativity and room for experimentation will remain within the organisation. We’ll then be able to continue to innovate and together will create a new reality.’

Photo: Lotte van Uittert

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