In the first of our new remote notes series we catch-up with Dennis Dokter to hear about how his role has adapted during lockdown, his remote working experiences and how he’s coping with the changing world.
Dennis is a Relationship Officer for Nexus. His role involves forging relationships between members and academics: he helps businesses to access funding available for R&I through academic partnerships. Dennis moved to the UK from the Netherlands, where he worked for the Dutch government, to live with his partner Sita, who is a surgical registrar at Chesterfield Royal Hospital. Dennis has a specialisation in AI and data.
How has your role changed with remote working?
My role is very much a face-to-face activity in normal circumstances, so working remotely has made a big difference. However, the technology available has meant that I have been able to do almost everything I would normally do. The only thing that has been hard to replace is the immediacy and efficiency of the chance meetings and quick unscheduled conversations one has every day when moving around a shared working space like Nexus. In the future I can see that we will have learned new ways of working during this time and that maybe, with enough bandwidth to support AI, we might not need to travel long distances to meetings we can conduct online.
What’s the best thing about working from home? And what do you find the hardest?
The best thing about the past few weeks is seeing how members are adapting to the circumstances. The resilience and vibrancy of the businesses that make up Nexus is impressive and it’s a privilege to be able to play my part. Many of our members are using their ingenuity and skills to become a part of the solution while others are offering support and collaboration across the network.
On a personal note, being at home during the COVID-19 crisis has enabled me to support my partner a little more as she takes on longer shifts and deals with the impacts of the pandemic on her patients and colleagues at the hospital. It’s a small thing and I wish I could do more, but it’s definitely a benefit of being at home at the moment.
The hardest part of working from home is the lack of contact with my colleagues and the members. But the available technology is great and we have made sure to keep in touch with informal chats and social events as well as meetings. I think it’s important to maintain relationships despite social distancing I believe the WHO (World Health Organisation) even said we should now call it “physical distancing”.
What are you doing to help yourself stay positive and cope with the new normal?
I really miss The Edge gym at the University, so I have got all my weights and equipment out of storage and Sita and I have set up a gym in the dining room, so we can still have our familiar routine. It’s also important to get outside, take the allowed daily exercise and see other people (from a safe distance obviously). Astronauts and scientists are given special training on how to deal with isolation – it’s not something we’re naturally trained to do. For me it helps to see other people and to know that this is a temporary situation and that the learning we’re doing now will help us to cope with COVID-19, and any future virus threats better.
As always, we love to hear from all of our Community, get in touch if you’d like to share your story with us.