‘I often take a look at my campus office from the outside’

| Jelle Posthuma

Our daily rhythm is temporarily disrupted. No more 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? Efthymios Constantinides, associate professor of Digital Marketing, gives his view on the situation.

How are you adjusting?

‘For me working from home and online education are not entirely new. A few of my lectures were already online. Now, however, everything is online. Lectures, exams, meetings with colleagues, colloquia, you name it. This situation is not the best one, obviously. But considering everything that’s going on in the world right now, we shouldn’t complain. Our online systems allow us to continue education. There are even some advantages. I noticed it’s easier to get in touch with more people online. Somehow it’s easier to make appointments. I also like the small online coffee breaks that our team (NIKOS, ed.) recently introduced. It’s only 15 minutes, but in this way, you stay in touch with your colleagues.’

What does your working space look like now?

‘I work in the guestroom of our apartment. We already had a desk with a computer and two screens there before the corona crisis, but now this is my permanent working space. It’s a quiet spot: there are no noises from the rest of the house and the street.’

Have you found a routine?

‘Let’s just say that I’m subjected to other stimuli when working from home. It’s not my normal working environment. I think you have to be a bit more flexible with your working hours when working from home. Online education means also an increased workload for us as teachers, but working at home allows you to work a bit longer during the evenings. For the rest, I try to stick to my normal daily schedule as much as possible. It’s naturally interrupted by coffee breaks with my wife or shopping activities, since we have divided these between the two of us these days.’

How do you like online education?

‘I think online education is an interesting option to keep in mind, but it will not replace our traditional classes and personal interactions completely. The corona crisis requires us to work in a completely different manner. Take for example the exams. An online examination is per definition an open book examination, but students shouldn’t be able to find the answers in a book very easily. So we had to change the examination format completely and in a very short time. We work with BlueJeans as examination platform. Students have their camera on and their audio off during an exam. We can check all students participating in the exam. They also had to sign a contract in advance, in which they declared to behave professionally and responsibly during the exam. If they want to use the toilet, they have to send us a message so we know why they are out of view of their webcam. From what I saw the students behaved pretty well. There are complaints in the media about the intrusiveness of some online testing tools used by some universities at the moment, but in our case, we paid a lot of attention to making sure that the method we used was not intrusive and my feeling is that this worked very well; our students seemed to understand the situation.’

Do you have any special habits in these extraordinary times?

‘One of the things I like to do is go to the campus by bike and cycle around there during working days. It takes about three-quarters of an hour. I try to stay fit this way. Why to the campus? Maybe I miss it unconsciously. I like to go there and take a look at my office, even from outside the Ravelijn. It’s just a nice break from my work.’

What about the housemates?

‘I live with my wife in an apartment in the center of Enschede. Our children already left the house. I don’t see them that much during these corona times. They both work in the medical world. My youngest son even had the coronavirus himself. So we had a firsthand experience. Luckily, he only experienced mild symptoms. I have lived in the Netherlands for 32 years, but of course, I stay in touch with my family and friends in Greece. Actually Greece has done quite well in this corona crisis with only about 150 deaths. Luckily, there were no issues in my family, as far as I know. But my mother is old so I naturally worry about her and try to stay in touch.’