‘Good things can come from working at home’

| Michaela Nesvarova

Our daily rhythm is temporarily disrupted. No more daily walks, bike rides or car rides to the campus. We are working from home. We call in instead of meeting face to face. How do you like your improvised home office and what tips can we share? Peter Timmerman, head of Studium Generale, looks at the bright sides of the situation.

How are you adjusting to the new situation?

‘It is of course a bit strange to work from home so much. I have regular home work days and I enjoy that, but now it is enforced and will last for a long time, so that gives you a very different feeling. I miss the energy of my colleagues. I like them very much and I miss our discussions. We meet digitally via Zoom, but I always compare that to fish in an aquarium. You can see each other, but there is always distance. On the other hand, it is nice that we have this option to stay connected. Also, I remembered this lecture about Isaac Newton that we held recently. During this lecture, I learnt that Newton was forced to work from home due to the plague. He was at home, looking at his garden and an apple fell down. I think you know the story. That is how he came up with his brilliant theory of gravitation. That means that important discoveries can be made even from home. That is comforting for me. It doesn’t mean that I will come up with a brilliant theory, but good things can come from working at home.’

What does your working space look like now?

‘I have a dedicated home office. I really like the space, it is my retreat. You can see a big CD collection behind me. I really like listening to music, I find it inspiring. It is good company to have. Music can give you hope and joy. I also really like that my home office leads directly to our garden. I can go out to a terrace and sit there or take a walk through the garden. I like to take “thinking walks”.’

With all Studium Generale lectures cancelled for now, what keeps you busy?

‘Of course I really miss the lectures and our programme. That is our end product, that is what we all do it for. It gives me good energy. Now we are really busy with transferring all lectures to the autumn programme.’

Have you found a new routine?

‘I’m available from nine in the morning, so everyone can reach me. My wife also works from home, so we have lunch together. It is nice to have company. I usually take an afternoon break to go for a run or to cycle, so I stay in shape. Thinking of this, I’m always intrigued by the difference between morning people and evening people. I’m a real night owl. I like to work in the evenings, while my colleagues are morning people. So nowadays I work a few hours in the evening. That is a nice thing about working from home. You are a bit more flexible in how you arrange your work.’