The first thing I do is spend 10 minutes meditating, which is really just an excuse to keep my eyes closed for a bit longer. I get dressed and then my dog out for the morning. He sleeps in the laundry during winter and is my WFH buddy.
I log on for the day. I used to work at a desk in my room, but it has been cold in the mornings, so I often migrate downstairs and work at the dining table. I was able to take a monitor home from the office, and have a small setup up in my room.
My WFH setup complete with monitor and mini monstera.
One of my team’s early responses to COVID-19 was to create a roster to minimise contact between staff. We were allowed to choose our hours, so I chose to work 7-3. As long as we worked a 7.5 hour day, our Director was happy to accommodate our preferences. After we transitioned to WFH, we kept the roster to minimise the load on the IT system, because it was quite new. Generally, we can come into the office once a week or as needed, depending on the work we’re doing. Finishing at 3 pm is great because I love going for a walk after work and having the afternoon to myself.
I need a name for my desk buddy!
First thing I do after logging on is to check my emails and messages in Outlook and Jabber (Health’s instant messaging platform). The emails I normally receive are often things for me to follow-up on from the day before.
My setup at the dining table.
Today, I received confirmation from my supervisor that she will review a piece of work I submitted yesterday, an analysis of 8 Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) items related to neurology and neurosurgery over the last 10 years.
I also receive various updates, like yesterday’s end-of-day stats report from another team in my branch, which shows all the emails sent to their COVID Response Inbox. As of yesterday, they had responded to 723 queries from the general public regarding COVID-19. At the branch level, I receive the daily Media Coverage Email, which includes media articles on topics related to my branch’s work. Today’s email is short, we receive one article entitled Eating disorders vs. disordered eating: what’s the difference? I plan to read the article later.
At the divisional level, we receive a weekly email from the First Assistant Secretary (FAS), called “The Week That Was,” which summarises all the work that the branch has accomplished, as well as upcoming work on the horizon. At the departmental level, everyone gets emails from the Secretary, Chief Operating Officer and other executives which update us on the work and activity that is going on in the Department.
I have a look at my priorities for the day and fill out my team’s Daily Work Spreadsheet. My supervisor introduced this spreadsheet when we stared WFH so she could have a clear idea of our daily tasks and focuses.
I let my colleague know that I have capacity to help her today. She asked me to help her complete a directory which would include key documents that were created within a specific area of work. In this case, the directory was for Diagnostic Medicine. I get started on that.
I have my breakfast and coffee while working. If I’m in the office, I normally pack yogurt and muesli for breakfast, but WFH means I can have eggs on toast. I continue to work on the directory and check in with my colleague to ask questions and get guidance. I liaise with other colleagues who have worked in this area as well.
My favourite breakfast is eggs on toast with chili jam, pepper and soy sauce.
I do some online training. It’s nice to have something that I can turn to in between liaising with other people about the directory. The grad program requires us to complete certain courses as a part of our learning and development opportunities. Before COVID-19, there were a mix of online and classroom (in person) courses, but they have all moved online now. Today, I’m ticking off a few courses that I was supposed to complete earlier (oops!). I also add some optional courses to my list, including Data Analytics Module 1: Using Data in the APS and Building Resilience. There is a library of online courses in Health’s learning portal, but we have access to LinkedIn Learning courses as well. They’re great tools for self-directed learning, especially when you have a quiet moment.
I finish up my online training for today and go through the flagged items in my inbox, which has been building up. I find some tasks that I had flagged but hadn’t completed, including one from Entry Level Programs requesting grads to write about a day in their life. I reach out to see if they’re still taking submissions, and find out that they are, so I start writing that.
My WFH buddy likes to sleep next to me while I work.
I normally take a 30-minute lunch break. Often, you can negotiate your hours with your supervisor. I used to take 1 hour lunch breaks in the office so I could catch up with the other grads pre-COVID. I miss them :(
I get back from my lunch break to some emails about the directory and update it accordingly. Normally at 1:45, my section has a daily teleconference call to check in with everyone. It’s a nice way for us to stay in touch, as WFH can be tough in many ways. I personally find it can be quite isolating, although I’m better adjusted now. Some of my team have struggled working while looking after their children at the same time. However, the meeting was cancelled today because my Director had another meeting, so I’m able to finalise the directory.
I finish writing A Day in My Life.
I check in with my colleagues and supervisor before logging off.
Time to take my buddy on a walk!
All dressed up for our walk!
After a normal day in the office.