Like many others, I am working from home now. The actual process of working is fine, but the assumptions made by my employer and probably by employers in general about the facilities we have, are, I will argue, unrealistic. It follows that their expectations are unrealistic too.
Because I live close to my office, I have never felt the need to have broadband in my flat. It has been an attempt to have some kind of work-life balance – I know if I did have this, I would be working most of the time. This has been successful, and if I really need to do something work-related in the evening or weekend, I go to my office.
The situation now is that we are expected to be able to do anything internet related from home, as my building and most campus buildings are out of bounds. I can use my mobile phone as a WiFi hub, and that is fine for low bandwidth tasks, like uploading lecture slides etc. But it’s unlikely to be able to cope with online vivas and interviews (using e.g. Skype or Google Meet), which we are also expected to be able to do. I have asked my line manager to contact IT services about this, and I have separately contacted them myself, but so far there has been no response. My School Education Committee suggested using a WiFi dongle, but my experience of these in the past has been mixed. I have ordered one (they offered to pay for it, so fair enough); delivery is going to take some time, it would seem.
Even when people have broadband, there are undoubted security issues in working from home, especially if one is handling confidential items like exam papers. At least now we can install VPNs without having to beg IT services, which is a step in the right direction. But our employer is still making the assumption that we have these facilities, which of course we are paying for! And I was amused at an email from senior management that warned about security issues – they can’t have it both ways.
Anyway, we will see how it goes. Going forward, I can only see things getting worse. As we approach exams season, there will be even more demands and expectations. My hope is that the whole process will be learning experience for employers. Only time will tell.