"Are we ever going to shake hands again?"

We have probably all worked from home once at some point, voluntarily or out of necessity. But how do you divide your day and sort your work or study load now that we collectively depend on our home for a longer period of time? How do you stay focused, how do you keep your team together, what are the tips, tricks and pitfalls? Cursor calls a ‘fellow sufferer’ every day. Today: Claire Vereecken, team leader front office of the IEC library until today.

photo Privécollectie Claire Vereecken

As strange as these weeks have been for everyone; they can get even stranger when you just start a new job. Vereecken has a say here: after four years at the front office of the library (and thus at the library desk in MetaForum) she will move to her new home: the education administration of the department of Industrial Design, on Wednesday April 1st. Although that new site will be virtual until further notice.

She has been able to already work part-time for a while in her new job, asking her questions via Skype, “but my new colleagues also have their own things to do, especially with all the work nowadays to get all education offered digitally. So I really don't want to burden them too much. I now try to read a lot, all manuals and the like that are online.”

And although she says she has no urgent deadlines coming up: “I am certainly not yet sufficiently trained. It feels a bit like being thrown into the deep end. Fortunately, there is a lot of mutual understanding, which is nice. We are several people in the same situation afterall of course.”

In recent weeks, however, she has mainly had her hands full with reorganizing the library's services. “Working for the front office from home was not easy for us anyway. We have always worked with a functional account, for example, we are not used to logging in under our own names and no one had their own laptop. That was quite difficult.”

The higher order was - and is - to keep the library open, or “to provide the opportunity to still borrow physical books. We had to create a work process for that.” Customers can still reserve the desired books by email. Every day, one front office employee goes to the campus to collect the requested materials and deliver them to the Atlas counter, where customers can pick up their orders from noon. Books can also be returned there, "but we urge people to take their time as we work with extra long loan periods."

Read on below the photos.

Twenty transactions a day

Where, according to Vereecken, the library normally registers an average of one hundred and fifty transactions a day, there are now about twenty. “That is of course not much for the more than ten thousand students TU/e has, but in this time I actually think it is still a surprising amount. The physical borrowing is decreasing further anyway.” Vereecken sees that especially “the typically wanted books just before exams” are currently in demand; the next exam period is in two weeks.

Working from home in Schijndel in the province of Brabant, is now quite satisfactory. “I try to keep a bit of rhythm: I start on time in the morning and finish on time in the evening." Although the latter is sometimes a challenge: “I am quite a workaholic, so last weekend I also spent some hours working. Previously I actually came home from the library later than planned every day too and so I kept texting my husband: ‘it’s okay to start eating, I will not be on time'.” Small blessing in disguise: her husband fell down the stairs two and a half weeks ago and has been spending most of his days on the couch ever since. "So now I have to make the food anyway."

No drink for him

She enjoys it: her sunny spot at the dining table with a view of her ‘mini garden’ full of greenery. Although she misses the familiar short conversations with colleagues. “My husband occasionally shuffles to the table. ‘I came to have a coffee at your office,’ he says then." Having a drink together in honor of her 59th birthday, last March 19, was unfortunately not possible due to his heavy painkillers. Vereecken laughs: "I think we will just be partying a lot next year to catch up with everything we missed."

She also misses her visits to her fatherland Belgium, to her daughter and friends there, "but luckily we live in an era where everyone can Skype or text." This also applies to her drum teacher, who she now meets online every week. And the Syrian family she has been visiting for seven years, to help the parents and their eight children with the Dutch language, also has to do without her physical visits. “I do app them every now and then. But they are well settled here, they will manage. "

She takes into account that she will still be working from home for more time to come. “Education is digital up to and including Q4. To be honest, I don't expect that we will come to the TU/e this academic year if there are hardly any students.” And yes, it feels strange, she says. “I don't have a good picture of ​​what it will be like when we’ll start on campus again. I think it will take a while before we are used to that again.”

And: “How will we deal with each other then? It’s very surreal of course how we now move through the supermarket staying as far away from others as possible. Are we going to give each other a big group hug because this period is over, or will we keep a little distance from now on? Are we ever going to shake hands again? I am curious how we deal with this.”

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