Lockdown diaries: the office assistant

It may come as a surprise, but when I heard about the lockdown, the anxiety that the world seemed to be feeling did not grip me. I never felt worried or confined by the limitations placed on us. For introvert like me, it felt like a long weekend with the same cycle of activities consisting of reading books, binge-watching Netflix and messaging friends.

That is not to say I wouldn’t miss the outdoors, days spent rollerskating with friends or the occasional coffee at Costa. It just seemed that lockdown was more suited to my personality.

However, after a week of only seeing other people on television and seeking comfort from the pages of various books, even my introverted self began to feel the weight of the dreaded confinement. With each passing day, statements like: ‘I can’t wait to see you in a few weeks’ became: ‘I can’t wait to see you!’ and the anxiety that I once didn’t feel came crashing down on me.

Amidst the worries about my health, friends, and family, the one part of my life that remains stable is my job. I work as an office assistant at Springer Nature for the open access journal, Nature Communications. My job includes keeping the office organised, helping editors with meetings and sending information out to authors on occasions. Once the lockdown began, I received emails every day informing me about what’s happening in the offices now that I’m working from home, and about how the company is tackling the threat of Covid-19.

In addition, the manuscripts we receive also provide me with advice, as each day I read a new article on how scientists around the world are fighting back against the virus. However, these emails and manuscripts weren’t the only nuggets of comfort.  it was also the emails from colleagues asking about my welfare and the weekly ‘Bring your pet to work’ Zoom meeting with my team that provided my days with laughter and joy.

If I’m not receiving emails from my company to cheer me up, I’m receiving messages from my apprenticeship at LDN on how to help pass the time. Covid-19 has not only changed my plans for the year 2020, but also changed how I thought my apprenticeship would take place. At first it was difficult juggling the never-ending distractions of working from home, the tasks from work and the assignments set by my apprenticeship. The workshop days on which I used to see my fellow apprentices in person are now held through a screen and interrupted by the slow internet connection.

However, after a few Zoom sessions and guidance from my apprenticeship Skills Coach it has all fallen into place. Now I’m not only handling all of my apprenticeship work and work tasks, but also finding time to improve myself. In many ways, I have found a new appreciation for my apprenticeship, as my Skills Coach has provided me with several courses and new learning to improve myself in this difficult period. From courses on how to edit your novel to learning about colour meanings, my apprenticeship is always providing ways to improve my understanding of publishing and the publishing industry.

So where am I now? There are doubtless challenges ahead - but my concerns are alleviated due to the support and backup I’m receiving from those in the publishing community.

Angelize Williams is an office assistant for Nature Communications at Springer Nature. She has been a publishing apprentice for less than a year. Her goal is to become a literary agent.