What's been your biggest challenge working from home?
Definitely switching between contexts. The life of an academic is already filled with research, writing, teaching, supervision, administration, and whatever else we might be doing. At least when you’re not working from home, there’s a mental separation between locations – although we might never switch off, you can at least “leave work.” The best I can do now is shut the door to the room I keep my computer in, and I know many can’t even do that. I try and go for a walk at the end of every work day as the best solution I have.
What has pleasantly surprised you about working from home?
I’m surely alone in this but I’ve quite enjoyed getting my tech setup right. I have spent a good deal of time before this working with cameras, lights, and microphones, on various projects, so for me getting my own set up just right at home has been a kind of nesting experience, I suppose.
How are you staying connected with Swinburne and your colleagues?
We have both a group chat that keeps us all in touch, and a regular, pencilled-in video call at the end of the week. It’s not the same as all those on campus corridor chats and beers after work, but it’s still so essential at the moment.
How do you switch off from work?
Given that I research and teach film, television, and videogames, it can be harder to use those go-to tools to switch off. Everything, even a great movie, can feel a little like work in the back of your mind (maybe this scene would be a great example in that paper…). Of course, I still love all those things and have been doing a lot of them – but also reading novels here and there, doing exercise (a major change for me!), and trying out a fair few new recipes.
What’s your lockdown recommendation?
So many! For TV, I’ve loved Babylon Berlin on Netflix, Das Boot on SBS On Demand, and finally getting through all of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine which takes a little while to get going but is just brilliant. Da 5 Bloods was a great new release streaming film, very of the moment. For recipes, I love Nigella’s zucchini pasta, and this amazing one pot yellow pumpkin curry.
Have you stocked up on anything?
I’ve been cycling through various coffee grinds around Melbourne (through the mail, of course), but to turn it into a flat white I’ve gotta have a reliable stock of Bonsoy on hand at all times.
Any advice for those who may be struggling during these unique times?
I don’t think anyone knows the way through this. Something like this has never happened during any of our lifetimes, and with any luck, won’t happen again. All I can do, at least, is remind myself that all of my old internal mental checks and rules for doing work, coping, living a life: all of those apply to a world that isn’t undergoing a global pandemic and localised lockdowns. Surviving is surviving. Being hard on ourselves or those around us for anything more than that is frankly unreasonable.
Dan 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.