Michael Smith, the technical training specialist in the UMass Transportation Center, which is part of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, offered some wise, optimistic, and helpful comments in a news article for the Greenfield Recorder about his experiences working remotely from home during the COVID 19 pandemic. “The opportunity to have this kind of time with family doesn’t come along all that often,” said Smith, 50, of Heath.
Smith had previously served as the Heath’s highway superintendent and fire chief for nearly 20 years before coming to UMass. Smith also highlighted the large swaths of open space in the rural community of Heath, a condition which affords residents the ability to get outside without being too close together.
“Life in Heath isn’t all that different,” Smith said. “We’re blessed. Social distancing is something we practice just about every day just because of the nature of the town.”
The Recorder article noted that, before the pandemic, Smith worked remotely a few days a week. Because of that, he’s already overcome many of the challenges that come with remote work, such as time management and distinguishing personal space from workspace, which his colleagues are now confronting for the first time.
“I’ve managed to work through those problems by setting up quite an elaborate home office,” Smith said.
The Recorder article added that working entirely remotely, while difficult at times for Smith (he has to schedule “Internet time” with his daughter, a senior at UMass currently studying at home), also affords flexibility. Smith said his UMass workplace holds “core hours” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. Outside of that time, employees can log on or off at any time they prefer, as long as the work gets done.
As Smith said, “If you’re more productive at 6 a.m. and take a break at 9, as long as you’re available, they do not place a restriction on you.” (May 2020)