We are talking to our members in these strange times to highlight the way their lives and work have been affected by COVID-19. First up is Hannah Muirhead from LGiU.
Hi, Hannah! What are you currently working on and how long have you been a member of The Melting Pot?
I’ve been a member of The Melting Pot since the end of April 2016, so I’ve just passed my 4 year mark! I work for LGiU which is an information service and think tank for local government. We now operate in 4 countries and currently I’m mostly working on integrating content delivery between these countries and making sure everything runs smoothly with our new Australian venture. As local authorities are such an important part of the Covid-19 front line, since the outbreak we’ve focused a lot of our content on corona virus: bringing together our network of academics and associates to produce guidance, intelligence and commentary for councils about tackling this crisis, and facilitating the sharing of local government responses and innovation between local government domestically and internationally. It’s been a challenge pivoting to this new model of very fast paced and reactionary content delivery, but it feels like we’re doing something useful so I’m happy.
How did having access to a physical coworking space help you personally and professionally?
I’ve always found it very helpful to have other people around me. Socially, so I’m not in my own head all day and can have a laugh and a biscuit and make myself feel good by offering tea to everybody within earshot. I’ve made most of my Edinburgh friends through the Melting Pot, actually. And definitely professionally too – I’ve met people at The Melting Pot who’ve written content for us, contributed to our events, and generally helped me out with day to day issues. The coworking lunches were always good to get to know people that I might not have had a chance to talk to when we were at our desk, and more often than not they do something super interesting!
Following lockdown, everyone was instructed to work from home. How did you initially find the sudden shift from a shared coworking space to working from home full time?
It was definitely weird at first and I had to push myself to not get distracted by things like laundry and plants and cats in the garden, and I found I missed the useful distraction of a wee tea break natter with my fellow coworkers. I’m lucky though because I live with one of my coworking favourites so we can still have a cuppa and a wee natter between tasks. I also miss chairs. My household has many stools but somehow not a single chair between us, which our spines will probably not thank us for.
As the weeks roll on, what do you miss most about using the coworking space?
People watching and tea breaks.
Have you found any benefits to working from home?
I spend a lot of my work life travelling, so this lockdown has actually been quite relaxing without all the planning of trips, booking tickets, working out logistics and actually travelling which I now realise consumed a lot of my time and energy – and if I can work on a rail replacement coach or on an airport floor, my kitchen should be a breeze! Also, normally I’m the remote one, and most of my colleagues are together in the London office but now that we’re all working from home I think, from my perspective at least, communication has actually improved. It’s definitely a lot less skewed, and now we’re all in the same boat everybody’s been forced to learn a lot about working together remotely which I hope will be something we’re able to continue to apply post-lockdown. Lastly, I enjoy being able to take the occasional 5-10 minute break during the day to play the piano, which I find good for my mood and focus.
We have brought the coworking community online by introducing The Virtual Pot. What parts of it have you enjoyed the most?
I really like the the Slack chats, and the fact that I now see way more of people’s plants and pets. And interior design. The Virtual Pub is also almost as good as the real pub with the added bonus that I can wear sweatpants and don’t have to queue for drinks. For continuity, it’s also really good just to be able to keep in touch with the same community I was working with every day, and to share insights and experiences about how our working lives are evolving etc.
And finally, do you have a message or any advice for those that are finding it difficult working from home?
People are aware that it is unwise to take advice from me on anything!