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Work in the time of coronavirus: ‘Your world grows when it seems to have shrunk’

How are you doing in these strange and unprecedented times? That is the question we are asking our colleagues in this series. Maaike Smit, for instance, secretary at the Institute of Public Law.

‘At the start of the pandemic, I was asked whether I’d be interested in applying for an internal role with more career growth opportunities. I was hired in an online job application procedure, a strange experience. For the department I made a film introducing myself. But at a certain point we were allowed to come and work at the Kamerlingh Onnes building every now and then, so I got to meet my colleagues in real life.

‘I’ve felt down at times, like everyone else I assume. But it’s also been a very special time that’s made me better at enjoying the “small” things in life, like having lunch with my daughter, spotting a bird of prey while out walking or enjoying the sunset on the beach. It’s been a valuable lesson.’

Maaike Smit
Maaike Smit working from home

Maaike Smit

  • Secretary at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies
  • Lives with her husband Mastapha, daughter Souhaila (16) and dog Nova. Her father Hans has his own floor in the house.
  • Works from 8.30 to 16.30 or 17.00 (and the odd evening) in a separate room, but sometimes in a less ergonomic but cosier style at the kitchen table or on the sofa, laptop on her lap.
  • Wouldn’t be without: ‘My dog Nova. She gives structure to the day because she has to go for walkies.’   
  • Misses most: ‘That we weren’t able to visit my in-laws in Morocco in the summer.’

‘I hope that the University won’t squander the progress we’ve made with online teaching, meetings and assessment. Not that things should stay as they are now, but it would benefit workplace stress, the climate and efficiency if we carry on working at home at least some of the time. In-person teaching is very important though. 

‘Above all, I’m grateful that I live in a prosperous country where the rules haven’t been as strict as elsewhere. And that your world grows when it seems to have shrunk. A quick Teams call with a student from South Africa, as if she’s sitting across the room from you. How great is that?

Maaike Smit
Out walking her dog Nova. This gives structure to her day.

‘Unlike many others, I’ve actually lost weight during the pandemic because I’ve been eating healthily and am more aware of what I eat, and I’ve been walking more.

‘My tip? Get outside! There are no restrictions on that and there’s loads to see and do. Go roller skating, horse riding or kitesurfing!’

Text: Corine Hendriks
Photos: Lotte van Uittert



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