June 18, 2020 - by CSCS

Maxime (computer scientist) asks Nora Abi Akar (software engineer).

How do you manage to have a “virtual” social life during the confinement?
A lot of my friends and family are not in Switzerland, so I already had a well-established virtual social life. I tried to schedule as many one-on-one calls as well as group calls as possible with my friends, and I tried to initiate conversations more frequently. But it was still quite challenging to live without any real personal interactions, and I now appreciate simple things like getting coffee with a friend much more than I did before.

What was the first thing you did when shops and restaurants re-opened?
I had to move into a new apartment at the end of May, so one of the first things I did was go shopping for some home essentials. The shops were more crowded than I anticipated; but people were considerate of one another, and the process went smoothly.

Do you think that, in the long term, working from home will become more popular?
I think the past few months have proven that working from home can be just as efficient and productive as working from the office, so I believe it will become more popular. But the past few months have also showed me that working from home can’t fully replace the office, and that the social aspect of the job is crucial to a happy working life.

Having worked now for several months exclusively from home, what kind of advice would you give to someone starting full-time home office tomorrow?
I would advise them to get a comfortable work setup with good lighting and to have regularly scheduled work hours. It’s easy to slip into the habit of skipping breaks and working late, but my experience is that it’s often detrimental to both one’s mental state and to the quality of the work. I would also recommend going outside at the end of the workday — it really helps with the transition from work time to personal time.