I was recently felled by acute hearing loss and tinnitus, coming at the end of a busy year. The doctors I went to really advised me to try to avoid noise as part of the recovery process. It meant that while off on sick leave I read a lot on my Kindle and avoided noise where possible (easier said than done with three lively children aged three to five). As part of the noise avoidance, I went to the supermarket in noise cancelling headphones, avoided public transport except for going to the doctors. I struggled most on the U-Bahn, particularly with the sound when a train comes out of a tunnel and goes into a station. Masked and with a hood up, I probably looked to all intents and purposes like I was definitely up to no good.
As we returned to presence working in July 2021, there was a major change from 2020. The previous summer, we were in in split shifts, meaning a week in the office, and then a week working from home in two fixed teams. The latter option meant less setting up and putting away of computers, but had the inflexibility that you only saw one half of your department. If there were two people working on a topic, they only ever saw each other virtually.
As a child I learned that an alarm clock was used to wake you up. But it took me a lot longer to realise that an alarm clock was a tool to send you to sleep and sleep more.
When I turned off the light in my office on the evening of 13 March 2020, I hadn’t anticipated that three months later I would be still working from home. Fortunately, we had always kept a home office “just in case”, but were in the throes of repurposing it to become a room for our twins. Then COVID-19 became an issue in Austria.