Life in Lockdown: Matt Brogan, Sydney, Australia
Caption: Matt and Candice
Caption: Matt and Candice
I’ll never complain about having to go into the office again. As a remote worker, I’m accustomed to grinding out many of my weekdays from the comfort of my apartment in Sydney. The office is only a 40-minute drive away but my visits are usually reserved for must-attend meetings and lunch catchups with colleagues.
My partner Candice spends her 9-5 hours in the city but also works from home occasionally. So, when we were both told to work from home until further notice, I was confident that we would be fine.
Our first task was to set up a second workstation in our one-bedroom apartment. While the rest of the city’s population were fighting over toilet paper, we headed out to find a desk. This proved to be much tougher than expected. Each store we walked into seemed to be awash with ‘Out of Stock’ signs plastered over any office-related piece of equipment.
After three days of driving around and trawling the internet, we eventually managed to buy a decent desk and chair. We were now set with two workspaces arranged at opposite ends of the apartment.
To provide a sense of atmosphere, we keep the radio playing in the lounge. It almost gives a sense of having colleagues around you. Our other saving grace is headphones. Candice attends a lot of virtual meetings, so to remain focused I simply disappear into my own world of Spotify.
While we have working hours figured out, stage three restrictions limit much of our entertainment options these days. You need a valid reason to be outside, which can be grocery shopping, medical appointments or exercise. Whilst outside, you can’t be in a group of more than two and a 1.5 metre distance must be kept between people at all times. Many Australians have discovered a novel way around the first of these rules; wear running shoes every time you go outside and if questioned simply insist that you’ve been jogging.
Living in an apartment complex means that you unwillingly get to know what many of your neighbours are up to. Balconies have become areas for new activities and outlets. Makeshift exercise zones, painting studios and freshly created chillout areas are seemingly all the rage. People are getting creative with limited space and unlimited time. Staying inside 23 hours a day will do that to you.
For us, Candice is on her way to becoming a master knitter. She’s already well on her way to making a blanket in time for winter. I’ve made somewhat of an effort to re-learn my schoolchild level of French. It’s a pitifully slow process but there’s no rush. As mentioned, we have plentiful time at our disposal.
Australians are certainly finding ways of adapting to this new situation. Since the early days of panic have now subsided somewhat, it’s clear that there is a sense of national solidarity. News of COVID-19 remains on a constant loop but there is an overwhelming feeling of positivity. We may have lost access to our beaches, restaurants and pubs (amongst many other things) but strangers suddenly seem friendlier. Neighbours are more willing to have a quick chat and check in to see how one another are coping with the new world we’ve found ourselves in. Even my cat and dog seem to be getting along – they only fight once or twice a week now.
COVID-19 will undoubtedly change the way we live going forward. I’ve never washed my hands so much in my life and I think this may well become a permanent habit. It has also taught our little household the importance of personal space, listening as opposed to arguing and the importance of a solid routine. While I’ve always enjoyed my situation of having the option of working from home, I’m quite certain that I will be making more weekly visits to my office once this is all over.
Matt’s report was first published on 29 April in 4Dorset Magazine – Life in Lockdown issue. ‘Life in Lockdown’ aims to shine a light on how people’s lives have been affected by lockdown and how they are surviving.
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