Spotlight: FSI Team Member - What Should I Wear to Work Today?

_ Alice Crowsley _

Hi, I’m Alice and if you’re giving us a call, chances are you’re going to get me on the phone! I’m a Project Officer for the FSI, which means I deal with the admin side of things, setting up our events and other bits and bobs behind the scenes. I’ve been working here for nearly 2 years and the time has flown!

What should I wear to work today?

That used to be the first thing I would think in the morning before I rummaged through drawers looking for that one specific skirt that goes with the only good shirt that isn’t in the wash, but now, given the global pandemic that has us confined to our houses, flats or studios there’s slightly less pressure to find that perfect outfit that says, I’m professional.

Commutes used to be an hour on a packed tube and avoiding eye contact with anyone in case… well, just in case. I would listen to a podcast and let my mind run through the day ahead so that I knew what was to come, prepare myself for if I was the first one in and had to turn on the lights, or if there would already be somebody else there to say hello to, prepare myself for any phone calls that I might have to make and remember that one thing that I didn’t manage to do the day before.

But now, like most people, I don’t have a commute into work. My commute is as short as opening up my laptop and there I am. In light of that I had to come up with a few things that would get me in the right headspace for dealing with the day ahead.

Tea - or coffee if you’re so inclined. There’s no being able to stop off for a coffee on the walk into the office anymore, so a cup of tea is my first priority. Sometimes, even putting it in a travel mug makes me feel like I have actually travelled into work and makes home feel less like home, and more like an office.

The morning list - this is my idealised version of what I want to get done, in a dream world. It’s the first thing I do after the tea is made. I think ‘if I were a superhero, what could I get done today?’ I pop down those mammoth tasks that seem far too big to tackle and pop a little star next to them. If I get those done, I’m officially unstoppable. Of course, I’m not a superhero, although I may have days where I do achieve everything on that list and that day I make sure to take a moment to congratulate myself, but normally getting through the dream list is not possible.

The Huddle - each morning our team has a mini meeting on Teams, a chance to catch up and remind ourselves that although we might be working at home alone, there are more of us. It’s a chance to lay out your priorities and ask for help! I always find it difficult to do that, I think a lot of people do, but having that fifteen minutes to half an hour a day where we can check in, check the numbers on something or say, I’ve got a lot on today, would you mind looking into this for me is powerful in a world where communication is completely virtual.

The realistic list - after the huddle, chances are there are far more pressing things than what I put on my dream list. I scratch out what can wait and add the new priorities. It might be adding a new course to our system, or an urgent email that needs to be sent out today. I keep at least one of those big things (that can wait) on the list though, just in case I’m able to get round to it and if I am, that’s one extra thing to be pleased about.

Add lunch as a ‘To Do’- it’s so easy to forget to take lunch. You can’t go out and get a wrap from the food tent nearby and sit in the park as you eat it- you can’t get food through a facemask- and lunch is just in the kitchen. But once you’ve eaten, there’s not that much to do apart from go back to your laptop and carry on with that task you were doing before the growling in your stomach. When it gets to 12:30, I close the laptop lid and make sure to have a break. There will of course, be times where lunch is more of an on the go thing but when I can, I make sure to carve out that 45 minutes to an hour for me (and food!)

Cherish phone calls - I deal with a lot of phone calls, people asking for help logging in, or information about a certain event, but phone calls are one way of connecting with our members that has stayed the same throughout the pandemic. It’s being able to hear their voices, which is rare now that seeing them face to face at events isn’t quite the same (Zoom can only do so much) and being able to help somebody there and then and walk through it with them that helps to remind you of your beneficiaries when you don’t have chance to see them in real life.

Switch off when you would normally leave the office - if you were a person who left the office at 5:15, then stick to that and make sure that your work laptop is stowed out of sight. In normal times, you wouldn’t go back into the office at 10pm to check if you sent that email or to make sure that something was entered correctly into a database. Instead, switch on the tele like you normally would and settle in to a night of binge-watching your favourite show.

So, to answer my question right at the start- what should I wear to work today? I’d like to say that nothing’s changed, but in reality pyjama bottoms are far more comfy than work trousers. I like to think that as long as I look good on Zoom, then I’m fine for the day ahead, especially if I’m armed with a strong cup of tea, and a biscuit.