by Annabella Costantino
For almost a year, we have been battling a worldwide pandemic, the effects of which are yet to fully unfold. In the short term, many industries have been working from home and it seems this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. During national lockdowns, some have had no choice but to homeschool their children and have business meetings, both from their kitchen tables. Every one of us has been battling with our circumstances, trying to make the best out of a very challenging time.
According to the Office of National Statistics (2021), “the number of UK workers who have moved into remote-working has increased by nearly a quarter of a million over a decade.” As a result of COVID-19, approximately 49.2% of adults in employment were working from home as of April 2020. This month, the Oxford branch of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Oxford Publishing Society (OPUS) and the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) Oxford have collectively launched a national survey to analyse the impacts of the UK lockdown on publishing individuals and companies.
Covering everything from difficult home situations, crucial career stages and caring responsibilities, the survey will only take between 5-10 minutes to complete, free of charge. Responses are anonymous, with an option at the end for people to give their contact details. Results and analysis will be published by three organisations, forming the basis for an open discussion about different options for working arrangements as the publishing industry moves towards a “new normal”.
In 2020, The Bookseller conducted similar surveys that sought to explore staff experiences during the first lockdown, anxiety levels in book trade staffers and what work looked like for the industry in the second lockdown. With this 2021 initiative, the aim of the SYP, NUJ and OPUS is to collect as much data as possible in order to investigate the implications of working from home on the publishing industry as a whole.
Interview with Caroline Guillet, Co-Chair of SYP Oxford
Having recently been appointed SYP Oxford’s Co-Chair for 2021 alongside her job at Bloomsbury Academic as an Editorial Assistant Intern, Caroline Guillet has been working from home for many months. Here, she kindly shares some words on what her experience has been like:
How have you found that your work-life balance has changed since COVID-19? “Without a proper commute, it can sometimes be hard to shut my computer in the evenings, as I could simply carry on working. Setting boundaries has been helpful so far – to help, I often put my work computer out of sight.”
What techniques have you been using to regulate your stress levels?
“These are quite simple tricks, but I’ve been making sure I get enough sleep, go on daily walks and speak to people regularly.”
Has your approach to lockdown changed since March 2020? “Yes. As I am now in a full-time job, I really make a distinction between weekdays and weekends.” Have your priorities changed in your day-to-day routine? If so, how? “Recently, I made some time to invest in my side hustles that I had not managed to keep on top of. Lately, I have been trying to write for my blog more often.” What would you say are the best ways you have adapted to working from home? “I have set myself a routine that gives some structure to my days, which helps me to stay focused throughout (hot drinks, breaks, a proper lunch time, etc.).” Are there things that you have learned from this experience that you will take with you in your professional life, going forward? “Yes – discipline! I feel more self-motivated now towards my working life.” What advice would you give to fellow publishing professionals that are also working from home at the moment? “Make sure you sleep well, get some fresh air daily and talk to your colleagues, family and friends as much as possible. But also treat yourself regularly – it’s a tough time for everyone.”
The SYP Oxford, NUJ and OPUS would like to spread awareness of this initiative. The Bookseller have covered this news, and keep your eyes peeled on social media to make sure you don’t miss any updates on how long the survey will be live for, subject to responses. Why not also share the link with your organisation, friends and colleagues?
Link to the survey here. Have any questions? Or maybe you want to contribute to the discussion with your own lockdown experiences and how the pandemic has affected your work life? You can find everyone on Twitter at @SYP_Oxford, @OxfordNUJ, @OxPubSoc and @thebookseller. Whatever your circumstances, let’s prioritise self-care this year, as it’s more important than ever.