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Staff insights: How have our staff been coping during lockdown?

May 18, 2020

Our staff have been working from home since March; how have they been coping with their new environment and managing their work/life balance?

How are you coping working from home? 

Sarah O’Brien (Academic Officer): Fine in the main. Miss my colleagues. Teams has been great and committee member attendance is up. Miss people and realise how slow decision-making is without seeing people. It’s been challenging but one is always mindful of those in worse positions.

Rodrigo Hernandez (Academic Office Administrator): When one of your co-workers is a baby, life and work is always a bit more challenging than usual.

Emma Heath (Assistant Academic Officer): It’s getting easier, Teams is great and I love my commute and the fact I get tea and cake brought up to me often.

Rhiannon Smith (HR Admin Assistant): Things are interesting, I have a little interruption usually around 12pm as one of my co-workers wakes up and comes to speak to us all!

Kabilan Puliyadin (Head of Catering and Events Services): OK. Managing to resist the need to have the biscuit/cake tins on the work table

Do you have an unusual office set up? 

SO’B: The dining room table and an occasional slump on the sofa when my shoulders need a change of scene.

Jessica Vaughan (Assistant Academic Officer): My new office set-up is in the kitchen, which requires a certain level of self-discipline to prevent constant snacking, especially as my new co-workers have become keen bakers.

RH: No, I like the classic style.

Charlotte Orton (Accommodation Officer): I have taken over my husband’s home office (much to his dismay!) My new working environment comes with some furry co-workers (see below).

RS: I have converted a nail table (used to do manicures) into a desk, with a camping chair to sit on!

KP: There are four of us working at home, including the kids, so I have setup our camping table with a nice table cloth, etc, in one of the rooms as my ‘office desk’

Who are your co-workers?

SOB: My 25 year old daughter has returned from France. It’s interesting because she is finishing her Master’s thesis so it makes me very mindful of what our students are grappling with.

RH: My partner, Amber, who is enjoying her maternity leave, and my 6 month old baby daughter, Nara.

EH: My co-workers are my son, who is nearly one and my husband – I’m not sure who is more grown up…

Atlas & Stella

CO: My new co-workers are my Bengal cats, Atlas (white left side) and Stella (brown right side), they’re brother and sister.

RS: My mum and dad, and my little brother.

KP: My two boys, 6 and 10 and my wife.

What have you been doing to prepare for the new term/year? 

SO’B: It’s been busy! Answering queries and providing support on new teaching and exam arrangements, welfare provision, and funding. The team more widely has been dealing with admissions and scholarships, we’re now turning our thoughts to new students too.

RH: I have been working with admissions and scholarships.

EH:  Scholarships and grants! It’s a busy time at the moment, but it is great that we received so many applications, the most we’ve ever had for the Kellogg College Scholarship.

JV: In preparation for the new term, I have been electronically signing GSO forms, submitting extension requests to the Proctors and answering graduation enquires.

CO: Over the past few weeks, due to the current situation, I have been putting arrangements in place for our students currently living in College accommodation. I’m also preparing for our new cohort of students who will be staying in College accommodation during the new academic year.

KP: The team and I have been looking at Upay/Uniware processes and fine-tuning them. We’ve also been looking at lunch and dinner service and reviewing how we can improve them for the new year.

We have been working on Catering and Food Allergens Policies, as well as our usual reports and audits.

Have you taken up a new hobby or signed up for a course? 

Sarah’s sustainable Easter bonnet

SO’B: I do an exercise class each week given by a friend of mine, who is a personal trainer. It’s my first time and I

enjoy it. Also proud of my crafting skills and my sustainable Easter bonnet!

RH: what with looking after my young daughter and preparations for the new academic year, I’ve not had much time.

EH: Does painting count? Prior to lockdown, our builder knocked holes in pretty much every room downstairs, so this has meant I’ve had to paint – a lot. I’ve also learnt the importance of keeping a note of the colour you’re painting with – turns out Almond White and Jasmine White look similar, until they dry…


Shotover Woods

JV: To help cope with lockdown I have been exploring the woods at Shotover, a short walk from my house, which are full of bluebells. I have also started crocheting a blanket.

CO: When I am not working, I have spent time walking in the countryside and reading in the garden when the weather has been sunny! I’ve also enjoyed my many video chats with family, friends and colleagues.





RS: I’ve picked up a few old skills. I have done a spot of cooking and sewn on some Guide badges! I have 160 badges on there from my time with Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and then Senior Section; some of them belong to my mum and nan. With some help from our resident master crafter, I’ve also made this mobile phone beanbag rest. Took approximately an hour and it’s really useful!

160 Guide badges!                                        Rhiannon’s mobile phone holder

KP: Nope. Busy enough! Although we did manage a trip out to the farm shop at Stadhampton.

Goats at the Farm Shop, Stadhampton

Have you achieved the ultimate banana bread recipe?

SO’B: Nope.

RH: Can’t think of any recipe to bake without self-raising flour… and they said toilet paper was in high demand…

EH: No, but I am experimenting with the ultimate Mac n Cheese recipe. We’ve had mustard powder, bacon, leek, chorizo and pulled pork, in varying combinations, with various cheeses!

RS: Not banana bread, but I have made Chicken Kiev from scratch!

KP: I’ll leave that to the experts.