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Staying Busy, Staying Home

Category: testimonial, Flexible Working, Flexible, Working from Home, What Our People Say, Staff Testimonial, Capgemini, home working, COVID-19, flexibility


Holly Stuart, Applications Consultant.

Working from home, sounds the dream doesn’t it? No traffic-filled commute, extra time in bed, wearing slippers all day… What more could you want?

I only joined Capgemini late last year and was beginning to get used to working in the office. (While even working in the office was new to me, and I had just started to get into the routine of it, we were now supposed to stay safe and work from home.) But luckily for me, everyone was very reassuring. Making sure that I was entirely comfortable and supported all the time. One initiative taken by the team that helped me is our regular ‘AMS Fun’ (Application Management Services- my department in Capgemini) chat, which is a fun filled session ensuring that the team is always in touch. These chats have really helped me to feel connected to the whole team and have provided me with lots of inspiration for keeping busy during these strange times.


I must admit I do miss the office environment. Our office in Manchester is one of my favourite places – it’s so modern, open and full of light. It is newly refurbished and we are lucky to have the view of the Trafford Centre from our desks. The open-plan office is great too as there are always plenty of people around you to talk to. (I miss the little things like my office chair! t is so comfortable compared to any other!). I am staying with my boyfriend during the lockdown, and we work at the dining room table together. (It is difficult to be sat with a fidgeter for 8 hours straight whilst you’re trying to concentrate.)

There’s also the issue of meetings and calls, everyone seems to think you’re talking to them when you’re speaking on the headset, and the washing machine and hoover are becoming frequent background noises.  I resorted to making signs saying, ‘MEETING IN PROGRESS’ and putting them up outside the room to warn others. I have embarrassed myself a lot more than usual, for example leaning on the end call button on my headphones or someone in the house singing loudly, but everyone has a good laugh about it, we’re all in the same boat.

My make-do outside office, when the weather was nice, was definitely a highlight of my working from home experience, but with the British weather, I have only had a couple of chances to make the most of this.

Another thing that I miss about our office is just the general chat, as you pass by someone, or as I go to get my hot chocolate from the machines (which are incomparable to home hot chocolate- I don’t know what’s the secret ingredient!). While, I know that everyone is only a phone call away, but it is hard to get used to not seeing your colleagues every day and communicating in this new way.

The one quick tip I would like to give is that it is important not to stay in your pyjamas all day, as it helps to differentiate your day and keeps you in your routine. So, I have been pushing my self to get changed every morning, out of my pyjamas…. And into something more ‘official’ which keeps me from slouching and also always ready for video calls!

My Failed Attempt of Sewing in a Straight Line.

All this new free time is as exciting as scary. It’s a chance to do all those things I’ve never ‘had time’ to do and has also made me discover a different side to me. So, first, I got out my great gran’s old sewing machine, and attempted to use it for the first time… I have so far ruined a few pieces of material, but I’ll get there eventually. I also signed up to do the Gold Duke of Edinburgh online, by utilising D of E direct. This has really helped me to keep busy, as it takes up at least three hours a week. Can safely say, staying home has got me to be creative!

One hour is for volunteering, and for this, I chose to use Zooniverse, which is a website with a wide range of projects that you volunteer virtually for. I have been identifying animals in the wild, it has been amazing so far. I have seen some adorable squirrels and deer right up close to the cameras! So, I am still keeping close to my hobbies and trying to pursue them as much as I can!

Another hour of the week is occupied by skill, I have decided to relearn Spanish. I did it at GCSE and really enjoyed it, however, after years of not practising I have forgotten most of it naturally. I am using Duolingo to learn this, it is available on phones or laptops so you can do it from anywhere (even though I doubt you’re doing much travelling anyway)! It has a variety of ways to learn- activities, flashcards and stories are just some of them. It’s always good to upgrade your skill, right?

A Camera Loving Squirrel.

Lastly, in terms of getting physical exercise, which is much more enjoyable now that I am limited to one outing a day- I look forward to this all day. I have been doing long walks (to make up for my lack of steps throughout the day, as my Fitbit keeps telling me off), and my boyfriend found his very old and slightly broken, bikes. This was a fun experience, especially watching him struggle up a hill as his bike was broken in the highest gear. I have also started lifting weights and training in the garden, equipped with only a couple of resistance bands, dumbbells, I have been doing as much as I can with the help of fitness apps on my phone. I have had to be more inventive than usual! Another opportunity I ceased in the lockdown! I was recommended the Nike training app from the ‘Healthy and Active’ part of our AMS chat, and it has some great workouts if you’re not sure about what to do. I keep telling myself I’m going to get into running, and I have joined the Capgemini Strava group as motivation, but it has never been something I’m very good at and I don’t enjoy it as much as other workouts, though the team keeps me going.

Homemade Pizza.

My meals seem to be the highlight of my days, breakfast, lunch and dinner are all so much more exciting than usual. I am also using this time to try new recipes in the kitchen. So far, I have had some great meals, despite the lack of some ingredients due to people bulk buying chopped tomatoes amongst many other staples. Although, it has brought out my creative side. One Saturday night, I was supposed to be going to my favourite Indian restaurant, so of course, I had to recreate this at home. We used our trusty curry cookbook (Mowgli) to make an amazing home-cooked curry and some Indian cocktails to get the full experience.

We also made our own pizzas one night, even making the dough, they were lovely and much more healthy than standard pizzas, so you can eat more! This excitement for meals has slowly caused my lunch breaks to move earlier and earlier… is it acceptable to have my lunch at 10 AM? Perhaps not when you realise you’re a good cook! Can safely say, in the lockdown I have realised a talent I have!

The AMS chat has been bursting with recipes and ideas for cooking. There was recently a Virtual Come Dine with Me competition, which raised money for NHS charities and MIND, and there were some great entries that I will be using as inspiration for any future cooking.

My Homemade Soymilk Iced Latte- who needs a coffee shop?

On Friday mornings, we have been having a virtual coffee meeting within my smaller team. These non-work catchups have been great, but admittedly, most of the conversation is about what series and films we have been bingeing.

I have watched my fair share of TV since lockdown began- Brooklyn-99, How to Get Away with Murder and Money Heist are the series that I have recently finished and I would highly recommend them all. Having not played online games for years, since I was a kid, I decided to download the SIMS. At least my SIMS get to go out and socialise!  I’ve built them a mansion with a rooftop bar and pool, so even if they were quarantined, it will be in luxury. I also recently got the Wii out too and had a go at various games during my lunch break, a major plus of working from home.

A Good Place to be Quarantined.

So far, my working from home experience has been very different from my usual life. It has been a great opportunity to try new things with the vast amount of time at my disposal, and to do some things that I used to enjoy but haven’t done it a while. It is a different way of communicating with my team, yet we remain close and able to talk to each other whenever we need. I am very glad to have such a supportive network around me in Capgemini, who make sure that I stay connected whilst at home.

Author Holly Stuart.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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