The perks and perils of working from home
Working from home means sleeping in, working in your pyjamas, and no travelling time, right? If you would have asked me a year ago, I would probably have told you that not having to go to the office five days a week sounded like a great idea.
Now, some six months into the coronavirus crisis, the novelty and perks of working from home are starting to wear off. This is how my colleagues and I at the translation agency of UvA Talen are trying to make the best of a difficult situation.
Good Wi-Fi is all you need?
In a way, we as translators and editors are lucky: we have a job that is very easily done from home, or anywhere you like for that matter. As long as you have your laptop and Wi-Fi access, you are good to go. But there is a reason why I chose to work at a translation agency, instead of freelancing.
I love having colleagues, especially if they are as great as ours. Luckily, we can keep in contact using Skype and we meet twice a day through Zoom to say hello and discuss the working day, but it is not the same.
Admiring our colleagues’ pets
One of our team members turned out to be pregnant. Apparently, not seeing each other in real life for three months makes it very easy to hide a growing baby bump! What she cannot hide, though, are her lovely – and also quite noisy – pet birds, Frankie and Nacho. They are very cute to look at, but they can be very loud and they get very excited by all the different voices coming from her laptop.
Admiring your colleagues’ pets can be far more interesting than discussing the day’s workload. It is very easy to spend a whole Zoom meeting watching your co-worker’s new kitten sitting on his shoulder or jumping onto his keyboard. Did anybody mention work?
In the Netherlands, you often hear the term “corona kilos” at the moment: all the weight gained during lockdown, partly due to the closing of the gyms and not having to travel to work. While it is true that the kitchen is always close by when you are working from home, we also miss all the birthday treats. With some twenty colleagues in total, it is always somebody’s birthday or anniversary, which used to mean homemade cake, or cocktails, or both!
Now, we have virtual social gatherings on Zoom where you bring your own drinks, your own nibbles and even arrange your own festive decorations. It is great to keep in touch at all, but we all desperately miss our colleague Maggie’s homemade treats (which we lovingly call “baksels” in Dutch).
Lego castles and jigsaw puzzles
While Maggie bakes to relax, others build a Lego castle in their lunch breaks, do a jigsaw puzzle or go for a walk. It turns out to be quite fun to share pictures of your morning walk or your new craft project with your team. We even use the photos as our background in Zoom, which is perfect for hiding the untidy attic where you have been stuck at with your laptop all summer.
The line between work and private life gets thinner and thinner once your colleagues have seen your kitchen with dirty dishes or your (lack of) interior design skills in your living room, which now doubles as your office.
Back to normal?
Even though we are spending most working days apart from each other, working from the comfort of our own homes, in a way, I feel closer to my co-workers than ever before. We used to have team meetings once every two weeks and for the rest, we mostly spent time with our immediate colleagues – now, we meet with the whole team twice a day, even if it is only virtually. We look out for each other: how is everybody coping and how is your day going? It all feels more personal, in a way.
I guess it is true that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, but hopefully, “normal” life will not be gone forever. I hope that once we are all able to return to the office in the heart of Amsterdam, we will appreciate each other (and our work stations with two screens, adjustable desks and ergonomic chairs…) all the more after this enforced absence.
UvA Talen is one of the larger translation agencies in the Netherlands. Their translation department is ISO certified, uses professional and sworn translators and editors, and offers free follow-up care. Want to find out what UvA Talen can do for your company? Visit their website.