How to cope with working from home

By Carina Hoerst

The current life under COVID-19 is physically restricting. We are bound to being at home a bit more than we want. Luckily, we live in times of global connection which enables us to break the restriction – virtually.

A life under COVID-19 has brought a small group of people holding different positions and levels of experiences together that share one common ground: They are all either current members, alumnus, or friends of ‘Crowds and Identities’ – a social-psychological research group around Prof John Drury, based at the University of Sussex, UK.

This post will be the first of a series covering mental health issues, tips, and experiences about how to get the best of academic life – with and without COVID-19.

I am very thankful for every contribution and hope that you can relate to some of our points and that it is helpful for you too. 


In this post, I will present experiences around ‘How to cope with working from home (during COVID-19)’.

What we find frustrating

  • Missing professional opportunities and uncertainty.
  • Clashing expectations, one’s own, as well as between universities and staff. 
  • Restrictions to free movement (the classic).
  • Separating ‘working from home’ from ‘being at home’. 
  • Daily repetitions and distractions (… DISHES!!).
  • Missing ‘in-person’ contact with colleagues and students. 
  • The idea that others are somewhat more productive. 
  • Comparing one’s way of coping with the (presumed) way of others.

What we find surprising

  • How busy we are!
  • How adaptive and creative people can be.
  • That working from home can even improve your focus and writing quality.
  • Seeing others far better and pro-social than expected.
  • Being in even more contact with others.

What we find helpful

  • Collaborations and working together.
  • Daily structure and routine. (#Routine, #routine, #routine ….)
  • A clear cut between work and leisure time.
  • Leisure time and self-care!

The role of technology

  • It helps us adapting and adjusting to the new situation.
  • It allows us to stay in contact with family and friends, colleagues, students.
  • It allows us to work together.
  • And it even allows us to take sports classes and organize pub quizzes (cheers!).


X There can be too many tools for the same purpose.
X It can be distracting (aka ‘too many tools for the same purpose’).
X It can be exhausting.
X And can make you feel being dependent and exposed to virtuality only.

Working with (and for) others

  • Can be incredibly motivational and bring structure into your day
  • Can you to catch up with professional and personal chatter.
  • Can lead to the feeling of being useful and needed.
  • Can be fun (yes! That still exists).
  • Can correct the false expectations of others being much more productive than you (because they are probably not..)

What do we take from this?

The current situation is challenging for everybody, it doesn’t matter how many years you have spent in academia and which position you hold.

While technology is THE means during the current situation helping us to get us through it, the flexibility of working from home might come with the price of not being able to ‘switch (technology) off’.

We also may be thinking that others are dealing with the situation far better than we are, maybe they are incredibly productive while we feel lazy. This can cause anxiety and undermine some valuable contributions to community work and self-care!

Working together with others can help you to structure your day and correct a perhaps wrong impressions of others. But don`t forget to switch (technology) off and to have valuable time for yourself.

This article is also published here.

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