Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown in March 2020, many people have been working differently to normal. Replacing face-to-face meetings, travelling, and office working are makeshift desks in living rooms, Zoom calls and a more virtual way of working. With the recent Government guidance advising office workers to work from home over the winter if they are able to, it looks as though for many of us, this will be the ‘new normal’ until at least spring 2021.
We decided to speak to some of the staff at Dementia UK to find out more about their role, how they have adjusted to this new way of working over the past six months, and what they see the future of office working to be. We spoke to Bethany Smith, Communications Assistant.
How long have you been working at Dementia UK?
I started at the end of May this year, so five months.
Why did you want to work for Dementia UK?
I’d heard of it already and knew that it did valuable work in the world of social care. Then I looked through the website, read the advice leaflets, and read about the work of the amazing Admiral Nurses and knew that I wanted to be involved.
What is a typical working day for you like?
I’m working from home every day, so I try and go for a short run first thing, if I can get myself out of bed early enough! Then once I’m sat down I look at my to-do list – I always do one at the end of the day before – and decide what needs to be prioritised.
I’ve set up a workspace at my kitchen table; I used to work at a desk in my room, but I’ve realised that it’s important for me to create a separation between sleep-space and work-space or I feel really sluggish. Sometimes it’s difficult to do this in a small flat, but I’ve found a way to make it work.
At lunch time I make a bagel, hang out in the living room with my housemates and our guinea pig, and ask them about how their day is going.
What is your favourite part about working for Dementia UK?
Hearing stories of how people have been supported by the charity, and working with so many lovely and supportive people.
Before coronavirus, how often were you working in the office?
I wasn’t – I started in the height of lockdown!
What do you enjoy about working from home?
I have more time in the mornings and evenings to do things that are important to me. It makes me feel more ready and able to get my head down and work hard when work doesn’t totally dominate my day.
How do you stay motivated while working from home?
Keeping active helps my concentration a lot, and having a regular routine is very important to me. I also often work in the same room as my housemates – we talk about our work and keep each other in check if we start to lose focus!
What do you miss most about working in the office?
I’ve never worked in the Dementia UK office, which is a shame. I’d love to be able to get to know my colleagues better in real life, as it’s a bit weird doing this through my laptop. Talking things through with them, being a bit more aware of what everyone else is working on every day, these are all things that would naturally be easier if we were in the office.
What do you see the future of office working being?
What I’d like to see is that it becomes the norm for people to do a bit of both – dividing the week between office and home. I think balance is the way to go, and I know I’d be happiest doing it like that. Obviously, though, that all depends on how things develop with Covid-19; anything could happen in the next year!
What is dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders, that is, conditions affecting the brain