The Complexities of Working in a Virtual Space

Before the days of COVID-19 I used to think that working remotely from the comfort of my home would be the dream. I could work on my own time and stay in my pyjamas 24/7. While the later part is still true, much of the rest is far from what I had expected.

I still have to set my alarms to wake up bright and early in order to attend meetings with partners in Tanzania or my other Western Heads East (WHE) peers, I still have to attend lectures for my Masters program, and I still have to meet set deadlines, meaning I have to work all day at times, except for the fact that I now do it in the comfort of my own home.

This summer has been one of the busiest for me regardless of the pandemic that has hit. Such tasks include:

  • Working with a supervisor to create a research paper consisting of manuscript writing, data collection, and guiding undergraduate research assistants – using WhatsApp chats/phone calls, e-mails and Zoom
  • Working on multiple publications with peers from my Masters program – using Zoom, FaceBook calls, and Google word documents
  • Creating articles, infographics and educational videos with my peers for a think-tank by the names of Global Health TL-DR – using various platforms like Slack, Facebook, Canva and Zoom
  • Completing the WHE internship – using weekly Zoom calls, Facebook chats and video calls with my peers, WhatsApp chats with partners, and Microsoft teams
  • Volunteering remotely with my international women’s fraternity, Alpha Gamma Delta, as an alumnae – using the GroupMe app, the Teams website, e-mails, and having phone calls
  • Finishing up other obligations with my Masters program such as educational lectures and online Field School – using Zoom

This is just to name a few tasks, not including extracurricular tasks, applications for other programs and jobs, and also keeping up with personal obligations. Being at home is a distraction in itself, from helping my grandma in the kitchen, doing chores around the house, scheduling doctors appointments for my family members, and more! This, in combination with the multiple online platforms I have had to learn how to use, has been overwhelming at times. Sometimes I have full days where I have to sit at my desk completing back-to-back meetings and assignments. The biggest thing I have learned from this is to schedule work hours for me, allowing me time to spend time with family, work-out and binge Netflix. My agenda has been the greatest help in this, as I sit down every couple of days to plan out my next week.

This picture shows life at home for me, from helping my grandma out in the garden as we pick fresh vegetables to cook a meal for the day, to creating a campfire with my brother to make some s’mores.

As many of my tasks and obligations come to an end in the coming weeks, I am finally getting to reflect on how much this past summer has taught me. While it is not necessary to have kept busy this summer due to the many societal and financial issues we are all facing right now, it is important to know that it is still possible to achieve goals of yours during this time!

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