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TR&I is Working from Home:

Finding places within 2km where we can escape for a while


Suddenly it’s mid-April, and Ireland is continuing its efforts with the social distancing and movement restrictions in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The team at TR&I have still been managing to get out and about while working from home. While we are all restricted to an area of 2km from our houses or apartments, we know that getting out for exercise and fresh air is important, especially while we are working remotely.

The work TR&I does means a lot of screen time and a lot of meetings (now on Zoom!). Much of our work focuses on trying to assist academics in getting research contracts in place, in applying for lots of different types of grants and finding new opportunities, in working with industry or charities to apply their academic expertise or a product they’ve developed, in negotiating licenses to protect our academics’ specialised knowledge or intellectual property, and lots of other things in between. This kind of work is quite concentrated and interactive, so it’s good to take breaks.

For example, Leonard Hobbs, TR&I’s director, shared this image nearby his house in Co. Kildare. He was out walking with his dog, Benji (made famous in our last article about working from home, which was picked up by Silicon Republic), and took a snap of Rathcoffey Castle:

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Leonard says that “it was once a castle on the Pale boundary and was used for the epic sword fight for the remake if the Count of Monte Cristo, with Guy Pearse and Jim Caviezel in 2002.”

While many of the newspapers and media has focussed on exercising from home (The Irish Times gave some tips on this earlier this week), we are also thankful for the opportunity to get out in the fresh air, while still abiding by the restrictions and maintaining social distancing. In line with this, Camilla Kelly from the Research Development Office shared this image of Bonnie, whose face looks like this when you mention “walkies.” Notice the one paw in the air:

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And post-walk:

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But no one is happier than the TTO Paralegal Officer, Lyn O’Reilly, hanging out in the garden with her new puppy Cooper.
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Staying Healthy

Under normal circumstances when we’re in the office, we tend to spend a lot of time sitting down. But often we are walking to and from meetings, and are generally more on-the-go. Working from home – apart from the activity enjoyed by some while running after the kids – means being more sedentary. Those of us who walk or cycle to work are not doing so now. Our home space and our work space has become combined.

Trinity’s Health Service and Healthy Trinity, spearheaded by Martina Mullin, has provided some guidance about setting up a new routine while working from home. This includes maintaining a similar morning routine to your normal one: which means not working in your pyjamas, getting up at the usual time, having breakfast, getting some fresh air.

They also recommend separating your work space from your living space while working from home. This is easier said than done if you live in a small flat, or if you’re trying to find a quiet spot away from the kids. But some distinctions can be made between the place where you work and the place where you relax. Tidying away the workspace at the end of the day and making subtle changes (e.g. in lighting) can help in bringing the work day to an end.

In terms of exercise, Healthy Trinity provides this advice:

“Physical activity boosts self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress and depression. 30 minutes per day of exercise that leaves you out of breath is recommended and don’t forget to incorporate movement throughout the day.”

The college physiotherapist and Pilates instructor Karita Saar Cullen is keeping her website updated with tips on exercise and mindfulness. She recommends these exercises for sitting at the desk, and for taking standing breaks while working.

30 minutes of exercise a day is not always possible, so she also recommends strengthening posture and core strength with plank exercises, and doing a 7-minute workout to break up the day and get a quick burst of exercise in a short time period.

Karita is also offering free over-the-phone physiotherapy sessions to help people transition to working from home in a healthy way.


TR&I: Out and About

While most of the team usually congregate in the O’Reilly Building when we come to work, now our workspaces are spread out across Dublin and the surrounding areas.

Graham McMullin, Technology Transfer Office case manager, took some great photos while at Djouce Woods near his home in Co. Wicklow (you can spot the Powerscourt Waterfall in the second photo). Graham normally spends two and a half hours commuting per day, so this seems like a good alternative:

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Another of the TTO case managers, Emma O’Neill, lives close to St Anne’s Park in Raheny, which she has been frequenting with her “2km exercise buddies”:

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Our IP Development Manager, Aoife Tierney, shared this photo of a quiet stream near Delgany in Wicklow while out for a walk near her home:

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And TTO Case Manager Gordon Elliott send this shot of Castletown House in Celbridge, which was spotted by his daughter Ruthie (13) while out walking on Monday evening.

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Elaine Pereira Farrell, research programmes officer for the Trinity Long Room Hub, sent on this image of the Irish countryside while out for a walk in Rathdrum in Wicklow:
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Over in Monkstown, Gill Marmelstein from the RDO, shared this photo at Seapoint. Gill had started a routine of walking the 1km to Seapoint and going for a swim, then walking home. She was doing this two or three times a week:
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“In December,” she says, “the sea temperature was 9.2 and one day in March (the coldest month for sea temperature in Ireland) it was a freezing 7.1.”

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council have now closed bathing spots in the area, but hopefully it will be reopened before long and swimming breaks can resume again.

Meanwhile, Doris Alexander, Associate Director for European Engagement, sent along these shots from early-morning walks along the Dodder, including a heron who seems “completely unaffected by COVID-19!”

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And here’s one from me in the city centre: the Grand Canal at Portobello Bridge in the morning:

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Balancing Staying Home with Getting Exercise

I spoke to Martina Mullin of Healthy Trinity about what we can do to mitigate against sitting down too much and not leaving the house enough.

Martina reported this: “I’m hearing some worrying comments from people that they shouldn’t go out. All the #StayHome messaging is very important but must be balanced against the mental health benefits of getting outdoors. Our advice is to exercise outdoors every day.”

The message to “Stay Home” has been widely promoted by the government in an attempt to “flatten the curve” and decrease the spread of the virus. While it is essential that people do not go out as they normally would, and stay within their local area, getting out for exercise and fresh air is also crucial for people to maintain their physical and mental health as this crisis continues.

Martina told me that “the HSELive Twitter account confirmed that it’s OK to exercise outside as long as 2 metre distancing is respected.”

Healthy Trinity’s campaign to promote physical exercise has been widely well-received and was recently picked up by The Irish Times.

Many groups and charities around Ireland are now working to help people maintain their physical and mental health as this situation continues. Trinity has also connected with NGO Age and Opportunity, which are working to encourage older people to keep active during the cocooning period, specifically through their “Movement Minutes” initiative.

According to Melissa Byrne, the communications manager at Age and Opportunity: “We started these active sessions on Facebook live as a response to the restrictions on movement due the coronavirus measures. We've had a lot of engagement on our online channels for the sessions and we are building a community of people online who are coming together to keep active during these difficult times.”

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One goal of these online classes is that “when people are able to return to their usual activities or classes they won’t be deconditioned.”

This is a good approach for people of all ages.

Kate Smyth PhD April 2020