Category Archives: Coronavirus Updates

How will house design respond to the ‘new normal’ after COVID?

With many employees reporting they would like to continue working from home after lockdown restrictions ease, Mike Bassett, an architectural technology lecturer at Inverness College UHI, explores how COVID-19 may change house design of the future.

Our lives have changed so much in the last year, changes which will permanently affect our approach to work. Working from home is likely to become an integral part of how many of us will spend our time, so how can we ensure that we separate our employment from our family lives?  The way we use space at home will become fundamental to remaining effective in our work and keeping a positive work/life balance.

House design must respond to the changing face of employment. A space which can be dedicated to work requires a quiet environment with natural light, heat, ventilation, high speed broadband and sufficient spatial separation so that we can focus our minds. Most of us have muddled through the current COVID crisis without many of these. The kitchen table has become the office, but with kids and dogs running around, doorbell and telephone interruptions, ad-hoc IT arrangements, these are not long-term solutions.

Most people cannot move house to solve these problems, so the solution must often be found within the existing home accommodation with minimal compromise to the domestic arrangement.

It is likely then that the architectural design and construction industry will be called upon to create innovative solutions which are constrained by the existing building fabric, space and services. The design skills of these professions must include a good understanding of how new technology can be implemented practically and cost-effectively. And building technology will continue to develop and expand in response to this demand.

This places a responsibility on the architectural profession to remain current and authoritative through education, training and continued professional development. Our architectural technology courses at Inverness College UHI provide this service, enabling students to gain their qualifications each year.

But there are other things that all of us can do ourselves to make worthwhile improvements. 

As long as an appropriate, dedicated space is available for home-working, we can improve our environment with some targeted changes. Ensuring that our home is easy and affordable to keep warm is a major factor. Adding loft insulation, draft-proofing external doors, replacing old single-glazed windows and updating to a modern efficient boiler will all make a huge difference. These changes will make your home more comfortable and provide usable working space, but will also save you money on your heating bills. There may also be financial assistance available to help cover some of the costs.

If an appropriate space cannot be found within the house, there are solutions available which can provide dedicated home office facilities in a modern, modular building located in the garden. In many cases this will provide a ‘turn-key’ ready solution and may be within ‘permitted development’ meaning that planning consent does not have to be sought.

As with any changes you make to your home, make sure you get expert advice first.

Student survival guide whilst social distancing

Okay, so you are studying from home. How do you stay motivated? How do you find new things to do around your flat or house? Is social distancing affecting your mental health? Getting bored or stressed out? Here are some tips to inspire you during this period of self-isolation!

HOW DO I STAY MOTIVATED?

BREAK UP YOUR DAY. Check in with your friends for a chat, take regular breaks from studying and screen time, eat regular meals and avoid unnecessary snacking – go for a healthier option!

Blue the cat from Arran Video Conferencing into classes at Argyll College UHI
Blue the cat studying from Arran – shared by @argyll.uhi on Instagram

ORGANISE YOUR WORKSPACE. Do whatever you need to do to get into your work mindset, whether that’s having a manageable workspace, study snacks, house plants nearby – whatever prevents you from opening that Netflix tab…

CfH staff meeting online
Lucy Dean chatting to Centre for History colleagues via Video Conference – shared by @UHIHistory on Twitter

PREPARE YOURSELF FOR STUDYING. Try not to feel overwhelmed with your workload and pressure from the unfamiliarity of working from home. Don’t stay in your PJs – treat it like you are going to your lecture and get dressed.

TUNES ON. Check out Spotify’s chill playlists to get you into a good study rhythm and de-stress from current news articles. I recommend lofi hip hop & jazz for good background noise. Pick up your guitar, write some compositions, get inspired by what’s going on in the world around you! Sofa Singers are an online platform to share songs, poems or stories with people around the world through video chat – sing as if no-one’s listening! Up for jig? #CovidCeilidh is a great way to connect with fellow traditional Scottish musicians in creating a virtual ceilidh!

PLAN FOR THE FUTURE. Organise trips for when you are ‘free’ again to spend time with your friends. Browse Instagram travel feeds for where you might visit next. Make a ‘things I want to do’ list for when social distancing has finished. Where’s #1 on your list?

LET’S GET CREATIVE. Daily drawing for wellbeing is offering free online drawing classes to follow along to artist’s guides – get your sketchpad out! Rearrange your bedroom, draw landscapes from your window, write a blog, create a YouTube video, try TikTok, paint, read, write some poetry or try a social distancing inspired haiku. Feeling like you aren’t getting enough culture? Walk through virtual galleries from New York City to Seoul – just pretend you’re on holiday 😉

Susan, Art and Design lecturer from West Highland College UHI Portree campus continuing to support students online
Art lecturer Susan teaching online – shared by @whc.uhi on Instagram

SOCIALISE (DISTANTLY). Connect with fellow students, friends and family on Skype and WhatsApp groups – send virtual hugs!!! Help elderly relatives set up a Skype account or run errands for them. Stay informed by checking NHS Scotland and Scottish Government social media pages. You can also join the online Perth College UHI Book Club every Monday at 4pm and the ESOL Reading Club every Wednesday at 4pm. If you would like to take part, please email ramirez.jimenez.perth@uhi.ac.uk who will provide you with a copy of the short stories they are reading.

Online student quiz
MA Art and Social Practice student Charlotte Mountford organised an online quiz for fellow students – shared by @ChippedredNails on Twitter

YES, YOU CAN STILL EXERCISE. The Scottish Government advises you to cycle or go for a walk in your local park once a day alone, or people you live with. Make your home your gym with The Body Coach or with Perth College UHI’s Academy of Sport & Wellbeing daily workout videos. Take occasional 10min breaks from screens and do some yoga to stretch your legs.

SPRING CLEAN. Put on your beauty face mask, let fresh air in, light scented candles, get your laundry done and do some mindfulness. Clear out clothing you don’t need and consider donating them. Nothing feels better than having a clear mind and clean workspace.

FOOD! Share recipes with friends, get adventurous in your cooking and exchange top tips online. Post photos of your smoothies and baking creations! What’s your go-to study snack? Young people cooking

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? When you’re winding down, why not binge Netflix or Amazon? Scroll through their true crime docuseries or fun feel good comedies! Did you know you can download Netflix Party? shutterstock_771067417This allows you to binge watch to your heart’s content whilst live chatting with your friends. Get your snacks ready! Looking to have a virtual house party? Houseparty allows you to connect with friends and play party games. Looking for animal content? Edinburgh Zoo has live camera feeds of their tigers, koalas, pandas and more!

#ShareGoodNews. Find solace in good news stories & share them with us. Stay positive, we’re here for you if you need us!

Katie Masheter Birthday
#ThinkUHI staff member Katie Masheter celebrating her Birthday online with work colleagues. – shared by @KatieMasheter on Twitter

SELF-ISOLATION & SOCIAL DISTANCING IS AFFECTING MY MENTAL HEALTH

Remember that panic can spread faster than the virus; get the facts, not the rumours and listen to public health experts who can help navigate the path ahead. If you feel overwhelmed, voice your concerns with your course leader, personal academic tutor or local student support team.shutterstock_1317925382The charity Mind have produced resources on coping with stress and advice on making sure you are looking after YOU! Support helplines are also on our website. If you’re worried about your mental health, contact your local student support team OR access counselling through the online counselling service through the green button. Want to read further? Read through our Mental health blog. Stay up to date on current coronavirus information and FAQs.

TAKE CARE – SENDING YOU A VIRTUAL HUG!

Tag #ThinkUHI in your social media posts with your #ShareGoodNews stories Instagram, Twitter and Facebook 💜

Written by Sophie Macfarlane, Digital Marketing Assistant and 2019 university graduate