What's been your biggest challenge working from home?
I had only been at Swinburne for a few months when we went into #WFH mode. Continuing to build relationships and teams across the university has been more difficult remotely, without the opportunity to catch up for an introductory coffee. I miss spending time with people face to face.
The two-dimensionality of Zoom or Teams doesn’t seem to generate the same energy and inspiration I get from engaging with people in real life. I live in a very small house, so finding a suitable workspace has been tricky, with my husband also working from home; my son finishing university from home; and my daughter doing VCE year 12 from home. After several months working from home, I’m increasingly finding what many call ‘zoom fatigue’ a reality. As a result, I now actively try to schedule shorter meetings with more breaks in-between. And where possible, I opt for catching up on the phone away from my computer.
What has pleasantly surprised you about working from home?
I have enjoyed spending more everyday time in my local community, waving to neighbours walking past my ‘office’ window in my bedroom. I live in a great inner-city area in in Northcote, close to Yarra Bend Park. I have also loved having many small bursts of time together with my family – and fun with my cat and dog. Having family and pets close has definitely helped during lockdown. So too the challenge of the puzzle that we’re completing during our lunch breaks. I’ve always loved doing puzzles and lockdown has propelled me to pick up some old habits that I used to enjoy.
How are you staying connected with Swinburne and your colleagues?
Early in #FirstLockdown, we established regular weekly meetings in the school leadership team. We use Onenote and other sharing tools to keep rolling notes of all meetings. Collecting, collating and sharing information has been an important way to keep connected and to create a sense of belonging and being on the same page. I have also run weekly informal drop-ins on Zoom. These meetings have provided an online space for the whole school to come together, usually with a quick update from me followed by discussions, questions, and suggestions. These meetings have provided a space for peer support, where experiences, problems and ideas can be shared.
Over time, this regular informal catch-up has become a weekly anchor during times of rapid change. It’s provided support and a sense of community for all of us in the school. Staying connected in an authentic way is crucial during this difficult time
More time at home means more time to spend with her family - including Lila and Malu.
How do you switch off from work?
I like walking: with friends, dogs, husband. I love being in the bush, but that’s been limited by lockdown. Long walks in Yarra Bend Park has provide a city version of nature. Walking along the Yarra under the fruit bats during sunset is a spectacular way to relax.
What’s your lockdown recommendation?
I am currently binge-watching the French series The Bureau on SBS on-demand. It’s smart, character-driver and like any really good TV show - addictive. I am dreading getting to the end of the final season.
I also recommend cooking from Ottolenghi and Meera Sodha’s cookbook East, with good vegan and vegetarian recipes. I have dusted off my baking skills, making Swedish cardamom buns again. Lockdown has encouraged me to focus on doing things at home and baking is a great activity to do together.
Mia is lucky enough to live by Yarra Bend Park so she can still get out and experience nature close to home.
Have you stocked up on anything?
I’ve taken up knitting in lockdown so I’ve stocked up on wool. I was a prolific knitter growing up in Sweden but stopped when I migrated to Western Australia. I think it was too hot to knit in Fremantle. I’m now enjoying knitting again – preferably whilst watching something that doesn’t require too much concentration on Netflix (sub-titled content doesn’t work well with my knitting).
Any advice for those who may be struggling during these unique times?
I find having things to look forward to on the weekend helps, such booking a doggy walk with a friend (pre-Stage four restrictions) and planning a nice Saturday dinner at home with my family. The experience of ‘groundhog day’ is real so I try to ensure I have variety in my lockdown life with regular catch-ups with friends and colleagues – in real life where possible or via phone. I regularly remind myself of all the things I like to do and then I do some aspect of them. I encourage everyone to ask themselves ‘what can I do today that I enjoy’.
Mia is featured in Swinburne's 2020 Open Day experience, Swintopia, a virtual open world that lets you try uni life on for size.
Check out Swintopia now.