When Manden entered the Erasmus Building on her first day on the job, the campus had been closed for two weeks. “I’d arranged with René Karens (Head of Executive Affairs – ed.) and the HR department that I’d be allowed to visit the office on my first few days to arrange all sorts of things,” she tells us. For instance, she explored the workspaces and picked up a PC allowing her to work from home.
“I went through a regular job application procedure,” Manden says, looking back. She met Ritsema van Eck during her job interviews in February. She also met her direct colleagues – Bibi van der Hijde and Marlou Deckers – and the Head of the Executive Affairs department, René Karens. But two weeks before she was due to start in her new job, the university closed its doors. “So since that time, I haven’t met anyone.”
By now she has installed a desk in her bedroom, thus allowing the room to be turned into a home office during the day. Working remotely isn’t always easy, she admits, particularly when you’re getting started in a new job. “It means there are no colleagues around whom you can tap on the shoulder if you have any questions or have got stuck on something,” she goes on to say. “Fortunately, Bibi and Marlou, in particular, are helping me find my way.” Every day at the same time they have a video meeting to discuss their work agenda’s. In addition, if Manden has any questions, she can ask them in a WhatsApp group.
It is obvious to Manden that she switched jobs at an extraordinary time. “Most of the decisions that need to be made are coronavirus-related. Of course, regular affairs have to be dealt with as well, but many meetings are being postponed or rescheduled, such as important meetings between the Supervisory Board and the Executive Board. Generally, such meetings are scheduled during the summer months, but now we’re arranging for them to take place soon.”
Home away from home
From her bedroom office, Manden will start each day with an online Teams-meeting with her colleagues at Executive Affairs. These meetings aren’t just about work-related matters, but about people’s private lives as well. “Everyone is given the chance to share his or her story,” she says. “It’s kind of weird, really, because I’ve only met René, Bibi and Marlou in person, but thanks to our calls, I feel like I really know the team.”
According to Manden, the team is very understanding of tricky working-from-home situations. “I have a baby boy who is nine months old, and at first I felt pretty uneasy about having to divide my attention between my work and my child during work hours,” she tells us. However, her colleagues are very understanding. “For instance, when my partner and I both have online meetings at the same time, they don’t mind when I have my son in my lap every once in a while.” She likes working at EUR. “The team felt like my home away from home in no time.”