How I Work Project

How I Work #3: Winnie in Amsterdam

Welcome to another installment of How I Work!

How I Work #3 introduces Winnie Schats, 56, an information specialist at the Netherlands Cancer Institute from Zaandam, a suburb of Amsterdam. Winnie manages the NCI scientific information service alongside two (soon to be three) other colleagues. Her role focuses on managing the publication and data repository, supporting nurses in evidence based literature searching, managing the library and digital collections, and performing literature searches.

Winnie loves to hike and bike (as any good Dutchwoman would!). She also does yoga once a week (“I’m not very talented, though ;-)”). She writes, “I also like reading, cooking, making cards – especially paper embroidery, and currently I’m learning sign language. I have always enjoyed learning languages and it has come rather easy for me, although sign language is quite a different game!”

I met Winnie in 2017 at an information science research methods conference in Limerick, Ireland. We connected instantly and have been in touch ever since, mostly through WhatsApp and also via snail mail. I’ll never forget the horrid conference outing to Bunratty Castle and the Cliffs of Moher we suffered through together. We also shared a fun evening at an Irish pub with traditional Irish music. Sadly, I have no pictures to commemorate this time together. Winnie is a talented artist and crafter and her homemade embroidered cards are gorgeous. Read on for her thoughts on how the coronavirus has affected how she works.

How has the pandemic changed your job and how you work?

Winnie’s new workspace in her home in Zaandam, Netherlands

It has changed a lot in that I have not been to work in five weeks now [as of April 21, 2020] and have been working from home all this time. It also means that I haven’t seen my colleagues in real life all this time.

What have you done to adjust?

It took me some time to find the “off-switch” from work, but I’m doing the normal office hours and compensate for working in my otherwise free time.

How will these changes affect how you work in the future?

Breakfast at “the office” in Winnie’s new workspace in her Zaandam home

I notice I quite like working from home and will definitely do more of that once we can return to a more normal situation again.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned or encountered during this time?

A visit from Winnie’s new office mate, Sacha the cat

That I really enjoy working from home, and I’ve come to dislike my neighbours. For the past five weeks we’ve had to deal with several neighbours renovating their bathrooms, meaning lots of noise every single day of the week. Being in attached houses that have not been well-insulated…

I’ve attached a few pictures, one of me, one of Sacha, our female cat who comes to sit with me a few times each day, making it almost impossible for me to use the keyboard (…), and one of my workplace at home, including breakfast (yoghurt) and coffee.

Many thanks to Winnie for sharing her experience and insights and for supporting the How I Work Project!

What changes have you made to adjust to life and work during coronavirus?

Merci for reading and please subscribe and share!

À votre santé,


About the How I Work Project

The How I Work series on Joie de Vivre highlights how women around the world are adjusting, coping, and working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. It features professionals living in Australia, Turkey, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, and the United States (from Detroit and Chicago to Alabama and Vermont).

Whether full-time or part-time, entry-level or retired, a student or a stay-at-home parent or an entrepreneur, we are working. And we all have something to share about how the pandemic effects our daily lives.

Sharing individual insights in a positive, constructive space creates a supportive digital community as we weather the storm of COVID-19 together. It also sheds light on the new normal of the collective lived experience of working during the time of coronavirus.


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