Coronavirus (COVID-19)—working from home, week 1

This is the end of my first week working from home, thanks to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Before I share a few thoughts about this past week, this video above is one of the clearest I’ve seen about Coronavirus (Covid-19), how it works, how it passes itself on, and just how contagious it is. (Hat tip to Documentally for this.)

Peter Daszak

Earlier this week, I began reading the tweets of Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a global environmental health nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting wildlife and public health from the emergence of disease. He’s also the brother of John Daszak, a professional opera singer who was in the National Youth Choir of Great Britain a little before me.

In a world sorely in need of experts right now, Peter Daszak is one of them. If you’re on Twitter, follow him—his insights are really helpful.

I was already concerned about the pandemic, I had already arranged to work from home, but reading through Peter’s tweets really made me sit up and listen.

I loved this fraternal interaction yesterday:

Stay at home

The advice is clear: stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.

I’m not sure why this is the colours of the Columbian flag, but the message is good.

I saw a photograph of medics, yesterday, that said, “We are staying at work for you; please stay at home for us.”

Do not travel unless it is absolutely necessary.

Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Stop touching your face (and other people’s faces, for that matter).

Practice social distancing.

While this does make some things harder, it also makes certain tasks much easier, like this:

That Where’s Wally? for UK readers.

Working from home

I’ve spent this past week working from home and trying to support colleagues who are making that transition. I spent seven years as a parish priest working from home, so I’m quite used to it.

Like many, we’ve been relying on communication tools like Slack and Zoom.

What I’ve learned so far from a week working remotely with the company:

  • Start and end your work days at roughly the same times as you would in the office.
  • Dress as you would in the office—it helps put yourself in the right frame of mind.
  • Keep hydrated—I’m not good at remembering to drink water. I ended this week feeling quite dehydrated.
  • Webcams—Where bandwidth allows, switch on your webcams when on video chats. It really helps the communication and feeling connected to the team.
  • Socialise—It’s not all work. We’ve started a lunchtime video chat on Zoom where folks can just gather and natter. Our first one involved a lot of laughter.
  • Get outside—If social distancing and self-isolation will allow, go for a short walk at lunchtime. It’s helps clear your head and gives you more focus during the afternoon.
  • End of the day—At the end of your work day, find a routine or a ceremony that indicates that work is finished for today. This could be logging off and putting away your equipment or simply saying something out loud like, “I have finished working today,” or going out and leaving the house for a while. It makes a difference.
I live in a gorgeous part of Scotland. This was from my lunchtime walk on Friday.

May you be known by love

This is the reading from Thursday’s morning’s prayer from the Northumberland Community which I found helpful on many levels.

Go peaceful
in gentleness
through the violence of these days.
Give freely.
Show tenderness
in all your ways.

Through darkness,
in troubled times
let holiness be your aim.
Seek wisdom.
Let faithfulness
burn like a flame.

God speed you!
God lead you,
and keep you wrapped around His heart!
May you be known by love.

Be righteous.
Speak truthfully
in a world of greed and lies.
Show kindness.
See everyone
through heaven’s eyes.

God hold you,
enfold you,
and keep you wrapped around His heart.
May you be known by love.

— Paul Field


I’ve had some strange conversations with folks this week about this Covid-19 pandemic. Someone said, “Well, this country got through the plague okay.”

They didn’t. Just not everybody died.

I said, “The plague [black death] killed 50 million people in Europe!”

I looked it up later and it turns out the number may actually have been between 75 to 200 million.

“Yeah, but what percentage of the population was that?”

Well, first let’s just pause for a moment and consider that the deaths of 50 million people is a lot. Every single family throughout Europe will have been affected. That’s nearly three-quarters of the current population of the UK. That’s more than the current population of Spain. That’s about the current populations of Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Portugal and Sweden combined.

I looked it up, about 60% of the population of Europe died because of the plague. It lasted between 1347 and 1351 without daily, international flights. It changed the course of history.

Let’s hope this outbreak doesn’t have the same. Here’s to this week being safe for everyone.

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Former Scrum master at Safeguard Global, Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

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