By MARTY LEVINE
Lots of people are enjoying the chance to work at home, despite the lousy reason it’s happening.
Not Michael McConegly.
McConegly — department administrator for the Swanson School of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science — got back to his office as soon as he could, and he’s putting in more hours than most of us do normally: 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.
“I love to work,” he says. Besides, he explains, “what I learned is I really don’t work well at home. Being at home was more depressing … I just prefer to come into my office. I just really enjoy that.”
That was clear to his department chair, Brian Gleeson.
“Mike’s tireless service to the department is unmatched,” Gleeson says. “Throughout the pandemic, he has being going into the office on a daily basis — including weekends — to handle proposals, personnel, budget and all other matters important to the department. He’s even handling mail and the delivery of packages. I can’t overstate how valuable Mike has been.”
“During the initial part of the pandemic it was a difficult transition,” McConegly says. “It’s a different mindset, just being at work. Home has always been a sanctuary to me” — and working at home was not working for him.
Since June, when those involved in research (including administrators like McConegly) were allowed back on campus, “It’s been a lot more efficient,” he says.
McConegly started at Pitt in April 2008 and has always been involved in the research end of the University’s work — first in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, then at the School of Medicine, and since October 2018 in the Swanson School.
He handles everything from grant submissions and management to financial and human resources duties, and has been subbing for the graduate student administrator since that staffer left in October 2020.
“I try to take one day a week for myself,” he says — but doesn’t always succeed. “I’m nearly involved in everything of the department’s business,” from strategy and planning to fixing the printers and making sure supplies are there.
While some aspects of remote work have improved the University’s processes, “there’s a lot that can be solved in 10-minute conversations that now take 10 emails or setting up Zoom calls,” he says. “I miss being amid all my people and just the day-to-day interactions.”
The quiet in the building remains odd, nearly a year later, McConegly says. But it’s still an office.
Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-758-4859.
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