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Lockdown 2020: Reflections from Tim at Ososim

Up Next… 2020 is almost over. Will you mourn its passing?

‘Work and life just blurred into one’

What was 2020 like for you?

Tim Orton is a software developer who joined Ososim in 2019. Having relocated to Cambridge for the role, Tim was looking forward to combining his interest in computer gaming as well as education by developing new bespoke simulations as well as supporting our off-the-shelf products. As a single 30-year-old in a new area, he was just starting to make new friends and settling into life in Cambridge when the global pandemic started to spread.

“In mid-March 2020 Ososim decided we should work from home. To begin with, I was looking forward to it. I only thought it would last a few weeks and I had always liked the idea of working from home. But it turned out to be much harder than I expected. My housemates moved out and with my desk set up in my bedroom, I barely saw or spoke to any other human being for days on end. That was the hardest thing – the lack of social interaction. It was isolating and lonely.

Daily virtual team meetings made a real difference to my mental wellbeing.

Just physically seeing someone else’s face every day, speaking to others and interacting like a normal human being. The basics of having to get dressed and be ready for a certain time provided much-needed routine. Although the meetings were focussed on work, we did talk about the personal side as well and how we were coping.

Without other people around me or an office to go to, I struggled with a lack of motivation to get up in the morning. Work and life just blurred into one. All in the same room. At the same time. I realised that being with other people, eating and talking together, all provided structure and consistency to the day.

Since being a teenager, I have always worked better later in the evenings and at nighttime. I think many programmers do. Working from home allowed me to work later in the day, as I wasn’t expected to be in the office 9-5. But without a routine, my motivation levels suffered and that surprised me. It became a vicious cycle. I had never realised before how doing less actually makes you more tired, which in turn makes you even less motivated to do anything.

I had to make a conscious effort to do the basics of getting up, have a shower and eat. Things I used to take for granted and do without even thinking. Suddenly these had become a target or an objective for the day, to be planned for, accomplished and even celebrated.

After a few weeks, I realised that I needed to make a change.

I moved back to Somerset where I used to live and stayed with a friend. Just being with another person gave me some of the motivation I needed to focus and get more done. We tried to ensure we didn’t watch the news too much but we did get out for a walk every day to see the outside world.

My working relationships changed during the lockdown. Pre-COVID, I worked alongside my colleague Chris every day. But since we have both been working from home we’ve been working on different projects and had less contact. On the flip side, I have seen the directors daily at our virtual meetings, where previously I would only have seen them perhaps once a week as they would have been delivering face-to-face training or travelling to client meetings.

Whatever the new normal looks like, I would like to be able to flexibly from both home and the office. Home is more convenient, but I wouldn’t want to work from home permanently as I do miss the social interaction of the office environment and the routine of getting up in the morning and going to work.

Whilst this year has been mentally challenging, I have learned some useful lessons about
motivation and mental health.

Going forward I will prioritise routines and take routine into account then I start new projects. I have started jogging again which is great – just doing something ‘normal’ like getting out of breath. Having been sat in a stuffy room all day I have realised the value of fresh air. It’s not something I would ever have thought about before, but I am determined to put my new self-awareness to good use in 2021.”

Everyone’s experience of 2020 has been different. But whatever the challenges, we have worked together to support our colleagues and our clients, whilst adapting to a massive increase in demand for virtual learning. Throughout the physical restriction of COVID, we have continued to work with major global companies, as well as government institutions, leading business schools and non-profit organisations across the world to provide digital learning experiences enable individuals, teams and companies to perform at their best.

To find out more about our virtual business simulations please contact us on +44 (0)1223 421 034 or