After 35 years of being a secretary, Nanny Bakker felt it was time for a change. She switched jobs within the university library but now she has to share the ‘office’ with her husband at home. Well, you know, COVID-19. “I tend to get involved in his telephone calls.”
She still has residual symptoms from Covid-19, which struck her in autumn. Coughing, short of breath. Yes, she is also fatigued, “but is that because of the virus? Who isn’t tired?”, Sarah Stutterheim, assistant professor at the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences winks. She is an optimist. “I look for as many silver linings as possible.” Gratitude is one of them, as crazy as that may sound. “The various roles that people play have become more visible: mother, father, daughter, son, employee. I think that this has created more understanding.” So, Stutterheim is not embarrassed to make her meatballs during an informal Zoom meeting with colleagues.
The new lockdown brings new challenges for Olga Penninger, study advisor at the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences. “We are showing a new colleague the ropes but not everyone can work as hard as normal because of their personal circumstances, so I now have extra work.” That is, as far as is possible, because Penninger and her partner Mark are also responsible for the distance education of Ise (11) and Arne (8). The morning walk – which is how she started every day in spring – has now been moved to the evening.
Since the lockdown in March, she has only been to the faculty a couple of times, to print or collect something, and once for a meeting. She hadn’t planned it that way. Aline Sierp, Assistant Professor of European Studies, had wanted to come to the campus every week from September 2020.
Bart Penders, Associate Professor of Metamedica at the Faculty of Health Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML), misses the informal chats at work, with colleagues, but also with students. About how things are going, but also about professional literature. But this period also has positive aspects. Penders spends more time with his daughters (8 and 6 years old) and he has a new hobby: going around the neighbourhood together with his daughter, a cart and a pricker to pick up rubbish.
What do you do when a student mutes your voice in order to listen to music? “Remain empathic and calm,” says Eline Schmeets, PhD researcher at Maastricht working on Europe and lecturer at University College Maastricht. Online education has its own set of challenges. Still, she likes working from home. “A more pleasant, gentler rhythm has evolved.”
Before the summer, a yes-we-can mentality prevailed in the Department of Political Science (FASoS). “We were going to show everyone that we could continue our teaching online in an effective way. Everyone was working way too hard”, says department chair Esther Versluis. By now, fatigue has set in.
The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is here. How are staff members at Maastricht University doing? A barking dog, a squawking lovebird: Chantal Mingels, who works in the Education Office of the Faculty of Law, has exchanged her office on Kapoenstraat for her own living room. She is working remotely, “which is going well”, but she misses “the hustle and bustle” of the faculty building. She’s very happy that she is still allowed to come into work four hours per week. In the meantime, Mingels has discovered hidden talents: building an outdoor pool.
The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is here. How are staff members at Maastricht University doing? Mark Govers, associate professor at the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML) and member of the University Council on behalf of the academic staff, misses his colleagues and work environment. At the same time, he is enthusiastic about educational innovations that are being introduced as a result of COVID-19.
We are into the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. How are things for Maastricht University employees? Working from home actually suits Jessica Alleva, assistant professor at the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences (FPN), very well. After her father-in-law spent weeks in the intensive-care unit with COVID-19 last spring, she realised what was really important in life: family. “It is not about how many articles you’ve published.”
How is the UM staff doing? What have they learned from the corona crisis so far? What do they do differently compared to last Spring? And how do they keep balance in their lives?