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Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Returning to work in the time of Covid-19

Shorba Harkhu 

Like me, have you ever thought that you would be returning to work after a seven-month absence? It feels somewhat surreal but then again nothing is unusual in the age of Covid-19. Having felt so protected within the confines of our homes, it now feels as though we are venturing into uncharted territory. We all have to adapt to a “new norm” set of routines. If only we could return to work under normal circumstances!

Returning to work reminds me of my first day as a student. Only this time there is neither a hive of activity nor excitement in the air. Campus resembles a ghost town - deserted with far fewer people in sight than usual. The library is almost empty. This is unusual for this time of the year when many students would be in the library preparing for their final exams.

The social distancing signs, sanitising stations and communication through Perspex screens in the library, brings the inhumane side of Covid-19 closer to the fore. One also cannot ignore the red tape that is prevalent, warning users of the no-go areas. I must keep reminding myself to always wear the dreaded mask and remember how not to fog up my glasses. Maintaining the social distancing rule is also very challenging. I constantly recall what everything felt like pre-lockdown. Work routines then were less complicated. We took so much for granted in our daily and work lives. The virus has brought in its wake death and despair but at least it has taught us a lesson not to take things for granted.

It has been comforting to see the familiar (although masked) faces of library staff and it is good to interact with colleagues in person, though socially- distanced. At least our office working hours have been reduced allowing us to take a breather and work from home every alternate day.

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