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High Tech Campus residents working from home: turning isolation into possibilities

Mar 17, 2020 3:51:43 PM. By: Ingelou Stol

Anyone who can must work from home. That's the advice of the Dutch government due to the recent corona measures. And the Netherlands has listened. It's quiet on the road, trains are empty and a lot of people work from their living room. Our creative Campus residents know how to turn this isolation into possibilities. 'We see an opportunity to change our way of working.'

Harish Nandagopal, NXP
harish

'I work as R&D design engineer for automotive radar at NXP Semiconductors. I am 35 years old, and I live in Veldhoven ( moved from Eindhoven a week back), with my wife and 2.5 month old son. 

It is a bit new for me, working from home continuously. It took sometime to set up my workstation, luckily we moved recently so I was able to build a work station for me without much effort. I think its gotten a bit easier since then. It gives a feeling of being at work. I dont see any major hindrance, apart from internet speed during conference calls, as long as I have to work on the laptop. The only blocking point is when I have to work in the lab, which I dont have to at the moment. NXP does provide exceptions when the need arises to work in the lab. 

The biggest challenge is the feel of disconnect. One of the ways we have tried to overcome is to have f2f e-coffee breaks within the team on a daily basis, which enables us to get back into the work environment. The other challenge is: due to the corona virus I had to send my in-laws, who were supporting us with our 2.5 month son, back to India. With them gone I have to consider this as working from home with the infant, and I think this is also a common scenario at the moment everywhere. My wife being on maternity break helps a lot, evenso there are times where I need to support her. This further brings in the perspective of equality. 

It does give a feeling of uneasiness, with respect to health of the people around us especially with the infant at home and health of the economy, and the consequences. I understand within my circle of expat community this is a common topic of discussion. We keep a close tap on all the guidelines and make sure to play our part in trying to restrict ourselves indoors. We are having more video calls with our friends who live in Eindhoven or just across the street, doing e-dinners, e-beer/wine sessions. There is a sense of urgency seen by everyone and I believe we need to be responsible and everyone needs play their part during these challenging times. 

The one that has helped me a lot is doing f2f e-coffee/tea sessions with the camera with my team and I would highly recommend this, which helps to get back the connect with colleagues and work. It also helps for brainstorming on work related topics and also we know how everyone is coping with work from home situations and keeping it fun.'

Heleen Boers, Imec (Holst Centre)

Heleen boers

'I work as a Biomedical R&D Engineer at Imec. I have been an inhabitant of the HTC now for more than two years. I have been working at home from last week. We have a small apartment, which makes it challenging to take calls.

I took my laptop home and some sensors I am testing for a new project. Most of my activities are fine, however data collection on human subjects is not possible at the moment. We also plan to build a demonstrator in the coming weeks, which might be harder with the current guidelines.

I miss the contact with my colleagues and the hands-on way or working we normally have. But I think Imec is coping really well with the situation.

My work-from-home tip? Keep in contact with your colleagues! I use the chat function of MS teams a lot and it works great, also for the small talk. We even arranged our weekly sport session through teams to stay fit together.' 

Niels van Loon, Solliance Solar Research/TNO

Niels van Loon

'Right now I am working from home in Tilburg. My wife is also working from home, and we have three kids at home. So we turned the guestroom into a small home office, together with our bedroom, so we both are able to work. But no need to say that it is quit rough at times, try to keep the kids busy. Working at the same time is hard, the kids need attention. We are lucky my stepson is already thirteen, he can help watching the twin sisters of 7.

At this moment I have still a lot of work to do, but I need the interaction with colleagues to get input. I also noticed I miss triggers and reminders when I am not at the office. Sometimes you see somebody and that’s reminds you to ask or arrange something.

My working-from-home-tip: start with sports, run or some exercise. You have no travel time, so loads of time to exercise.'

Lotte Geertsen, TMC Entrepreneurial Lab 

LotteGeertsen1

'Currently I work from home, in Tilburg, where I’m happy to have a nice office space.

In my day-to-day job I have a lot of appointments, both internally and externally, which I now try to organize from home. I am very flexible and already had conference calls, Skype calls, Google hangouts (no Zoom meetings yet), Whatsapp-group calls and more. I try to be creative and as flexible as possible. Next to that, luckily within our company we were already provided with many ‘working in the cloud’-tools, such as Office 365 and Skype for Business. So, that really helps.

And, last week IT logged in on my computer from a distance so that I could install my scanner at home. So, luckily yes...everything is provided! But, aside from the technical aspects. Work days do feel different. I notice being very productive, having less interaction or interruption. On the other hand, the very important rule of social distance makes it also more quiet at home of course. So, having fun at lunch breaks for example and the amount of laughter decreased on a very hard pace. 

What needs to be done, needs to be done. To me, this Dutch saying really explains it well: ‘Alleen ga je sneller, samen kom je verder’. We need to organize this together. It does make me rethink my actions and priorities and I try to make use of the productivity at home to finish some project plans and the launch of an IT project for example. So, next to the several types of Skype-meetings, I try to use my working days at home as productive as possible and I fit the type of tasks to my work environment. In the end it is a matter of how do we all follow the advice as good as possible, preferably without losing productivity?

Work hard, play hard is a personal motto for me and many of my TMC colleagues. So, after hard work: treat yourself with a good lunch! For example, I made a nice Tom Ka Kai soup yesterday evening which gives me a nice treat around lunch time this week. Also, soup is very easy to make at once and then enjoy it for several days!

Another tip: webinars. I'm going to follow one on Design Thinking soon. To work on my personal growth.'

Fabio Bambang Oetomo, Bambi Medical

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'I am working from my home office which is also my son’s bedroom. It is a bit quiet...I enjoy a lot of people around me, performing different activities with different people in different places. Luckily we have technology to stay connected, so we can almost do everything we would normally do remotely. But I do miss my team and the face to face interaction. The nice part about working from home is that I have much more interaction with my family. According to my kids I am always “travelling for business” (they make the quotes using their hands), so they also enjoy seeing me around a lot now. I hope this will stay like this for the coming weeks! 

I am an optimist. So I feel happy about the good things that are coming out of the Corona crisis now. People are showing they are in this together and are opening their eyes to see each others needs. This is happening in cities where young people are assisting the old and needy to do their groceries. And also for instance at schools there is much more collaboration between teachers in different schools sharing best practices about how to do home schooling. I also feel good about seeing my team members on a daily basis and talking to them to understand their feelings and seeing where I can help them if they’re facing challenges.

My work-from-home tip? I think it is about keeping the sane mind in the healthy body, which I guess can be done by the next three:
- Have a daily video chat with your team and/or the people you care about (we have a Bambi social video chat at 9:30 every morning)
- Go out and walk, or whatever exercise you like that can still be done (we are so lucky the sun finally came out!)
- Avoid the news as much as you can!

Yvonne Stas, SMART Photonics

Yvonne STas

'The dinner table is my desk and the serre my office for today. Normally I’m located in the basement of High Tech Campus 29. But instead of my husband & daughter are sitting opposite of me. And my son, who already finished all his online minutes for the day, is laying on the couch, bored already, doing nothing. The oldest daughter is still in bed, making the best of day 1 in lockdown. I just finished my 4th telco. The first one was with the Smart Photonics management team.

Thanks to fast wifi and high bandwidths it’s no problem for me to do my work from home. For my colleagues working in our cleanrooms at the High Tech Campus and the TU/e Campus this is different. There we have to work together to find the right balance between work and all restrictions from the RIVM.

We’re one of the companies leading the photonics revolution and on a mission to bring photonics technology to the world markets. But now first we need to embrace each other and join forces in fighting corona and its consequences for society. After that, together with our partners like PhotonDelta and the Eindhoven University of Technology, we have to be ready to accelerate and grow our business.

My tip, to keep it fun: do you have a trampoline? Jump!' 

Lilly Rosier, Shimano

Lilly Rosier

'I am a Business Process Analyst at Shimano Europe and since Monday the 9th of March I have been working from home. A lot of my work involves meeting and collaborating with people from our other European offices and with external suppliers so technologically I am fully equipped to work from anywhere where there is an Internet connection.

My colleagues and I are supporting each other remotely; it is the team spirit and the solidarity that will helps us all get through this. I feel relatively calm. There are some things in life that are outside of our control and panicking about it is not going to change the situation.

My tips to anyone working from home:
- Keep up with your social interactions as if you were in the office. Make time to have a cup of tea/coffee with your colleagues virtually.
- Take time to go outside, get closer to nature even if it is for a short while. The researchers at Urban Mind project say that a single exposure to nature, by going for a walk, seeing the sky, hearing the bird song can leave a lasting effect of well-being for up to 7 hours
- Timebox your activities. This is especially useful if you have children at home. Also, playing with Lego can be Lego Serious Play – it improves creative thinking and communication.
- Focus on the things you can control: send that email, complete writing that document, make that phone-call.
- Listen to some classical music; it heals the soul.

Radek Butas, Expat Spouses Initiative

Radek

'As much as working from home is great, it comes with its own set of challenges. The virus prevention measures forced Expat Spouses Initiative to cancel or postpone a lot of events, and we are busy trying to work out a way to keep programs and community going. Current situation is a good creativity test - need is a mother of inventions, as they say! I am curious exploring online tools and possibilities that help in keeping things going.

As somebody who actually loves going working in the office, I find prospect of prolonged lockdown not very pleasing! Digital communication tools helps to organize and coordinate administrative work, but it cannot fully replace face-to-face interaction with the customers, community - and colleagues, too. I also don't like to feel isolated from bigger workplace community. I am missing small chats with strangers by the coffee machine!

Working from home is great when it is a personal choice . It's a different story when you are actually forced to do it! To make it work, I found that it is essential to arrange a structure that resembles office environment:
- Set up working hours, wear your professional attire, wear a badge
- Also, do not turn your living room into an office - try to maintain work/life division also in its physical aspect! It takes time for this routine to kick in, so don't be too hard on yourself for not being on top of your game
- Make sure to stay in touch with family and friends, watch trashy television, do some yoga - and hope for the best!

Vivian de Corti, Holland Innovative

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'Monday March 9 was my last day in the HTC-office, and since then I’ve been working from home as practically all of my colleagues are.

The good thing about working from home is that there is less distraction and the kitchen table can hold more paper than my office desk (which sometimes comes in handy). The down side is that I don’t see my colleagues. Of course we have regular contact through Skype and Whatsapp, but the daily chitchat and having lunch together with the colleagues is something I really miss. Lucky for me we have been working from the cloud for quite some time now, so it was already easy to work from another location, all facilities where already taken care of.

I’m confident that the measures taken are absolutely necessary and that it will help to flatten the curve. Since this week, the schools are closed, so our boys have to stay in and miss their friends for the next three weeks. Our youngest turns 10 next Monday, and we’ll just celebrate his birthday with the four of us. I’m sure he’ll never forget this birthday…

My husband’s company will probably be closing down shortly, so we’ll be at home all together. As a holiday, that’s great of course, but in a situation like this: I guess everybody likes to spend working days and school days at work or school instead of obligatory staying at home.

Last week I ordered some nice coffees and teas, just something to indulge myself in these next couple of weeks while I’m working from the kitchen table. Our little bird is chattering next to me, enjoying the fact that it can roam freely more often now and sometimes it’ll join me on my Skypecalls with colleagues. During lunchtime I like to take a walk outside to get some fresh air and renewed energy.

The good part of working at home is no more traffic jams. But really, I’d rather take the traffic jams and work from the office with my colleagues!'

Maarten Voorhuis, scale-up Sparckel

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'I'm currently working in a small but cosy office-room on the second floor of my home near the Eindhoven city center. Working is pretty good: we're trying to combine work and coaching two of our three kids. We made a schedule resembling school planning. I learn that our children take more breaks then I'm used to, and it makes me think that it might be a healthier regime... And I appreciate the extra quality time spent, for now. If this would continue for weeks this consideration might change...

We see an opportunity to change our way of working also with regards to interacting with customers. We are 'testing' to use video-conferencing more intensively, especially with document sharing e.g. giving presentations while having personal contact. It works well, if you have a strong internet connection which is hampering with our kids using heavy internet connections with Squla, and internet-school TV... Still internally it works good enough. Now we consider more profi subscriptions to Skype.

It would be good for the world if use this Corona time learning as organisations to keep customer relations without emitting car-logistics CO2 as much as we used to. We keep it fun, with corona-jokes via Whatsapp.... (and we might play tennis taking into account our social interpersonal distance of 4 meters).

Natasha Dillen, Conference Center High Tech Campus Eindhoven

Natasha Dillen

'With our team of 4 we are responsible for the sales, marketing and operations of the Conference Center at The Strip. A lot of events have been cancelled lately so unfortunately there is not much ‘operations’ for us to do. But that does gives us the opportunity to focus on long-term projects! Our IT team rushed to make everything happen and since Friday I have been working from home.

It feels a bit strange, because we never work from home as our hands-on job doesn’t allow us to. But I think it is quite peaceful: less phone calls, nobody walked in, no disruptions! 

At the beginning of the week, news came that schools and daycares were closing. So today I'm at home with my two kids, and a friend's child is also visiting. No time to do any laundry or vacuum cleaning anymore, only solving arguments, cleaning up spilled beverages and breadcrumbs and avoiding the iPad as long as possible.

One thing is certain for tomorrow, I will ‘walk’ my kids in the nearest park for like an hour (let’s call that lunch break) and then I will put them in front of the television, so that I can continue my work. They even get crisps or popcorn!' 

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Ingelou Stol
Ingelou Stol

Communications Manager
ingelou.stol@hightechcampus.com

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