The ups and downs of working from home

Posted on: 4 September 2023 in Researchers

Dr Bengt Tegner is a Research Associate in Computational Chemistry in the School of Physical Sciences, working in the Rosseinsky group.

Dr Bengt Tegner is a research associate in the Department of Chemistry in the School of Physical Sciences. Bengt joined the Rosseinsky Group at the end of the third lockdown, and spent the first four months of his project working remotely from his home office in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Being an applied computational chemist, he can basically work from anywhere with a reliable internet connection, with a few caveats.

First of all, you need the infrastructure in place, such as a laptop with the relevant software packages installed, and the ability to connect to local compute clusters such as Barkla, using a VPN. Bengt had no issues putting these things in place.

Secondly, working from home can mean working all the time, so it is important to take breaks and allow yourself time to switch off and rechange. Bengt’s preferred form of self-care is to spend time outside, running and walking, having taken up trail running around Arthur’s Seat when the Scottish government guidance was to stay strictly local.

Thirdly, working from home also can bring feelings of isolation and loneliness, and distance can make it harder to connect with others in the team.

To better connect with the other members of the project team, Bengt suggested and implemented a weekly tea break via Teams on Tuesday afternoons, where the team could have a chat over a cup of tea and discuss random things, a virtual equivalent to a tea room.

The results of this computational work were presented during a session on Inorganic Reaction Mechanisms at the Dalton Conference 2023, where Bengt’s participation was made possible thanks to a development grant from the Leverhulme Research Centre for Functional Materials Design, covering the conference fee and associated travel costs.

Key takeaways

  • Working from home can be effective if the right support is in place.
  • Connecting with others is important to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  • Taking breaks and making time for self-care is crucial to maintain a work/life balance and avoid burn-out.