The idea of working from home never really appealed to me. I like the hustle and bustle of a busy office place. I like the feeling of accomplishment in a pile of completed files and a checked off list on one of dozens of sticky notes on my desk. I like my daily collection of coffee cups that I take to the break room to clean at the end of the day. I like the sound of the ring of my office phone which is so loud I can hear it anywhere in the office (and so can all my co-workers), and I like hearing the voices on the other end. I like people bursting into my office with both good and bad news. And, even though I’m not a fan of long internal office meetings (no one in sales does), I like what they accomplish. I guess, I like people, which is a good quality in a sales person, so even though I can work from pretty much anywhere – with a smart phone and a laptop – you wouldn’t often find me working from home, even if I was sick. But that all changed recently, for most of us.
As of mid-March 2020, I’m Grizzly Adams, Henry David Thoreau, Walter White, or a combination of whatever other shut-ins you can think of. Like many of you, I’m practising social isolation in the midst of the current Covid-19 pandemic, and I consider myself one of the lucky ones who has the option of working from home, even if it comes with some unique challenges.
With millions of people instantly working from home, you can understand that telecom and technological support companies are having a hard time keeping up. Some days my smart phone can’t make a call out before 4pm due to the sheer volume of cellphone calls in my area throughout the day. But I work around it. My computer doesn’t always connect to my office desktop. But I work around it (I have discovered three different ways to connect to emails and office files). Sometimes its just better to have a face-to-face meeting, but we’ve all worked around it (Facebook Messenger, Zoom, Webex). We don’t have a choice. So, it’s not hard to embrace it.
For many of us, working from home also includes organizing our kid’s days as well – our new coworkers. Before it may have been part of your job to only clean your own dishes or make a fresh pot of coffee when it ran out, but now you’re making full meals and cleaning everyone’s dishes in the ‘office.’ On top of that, every adult has been promoted to manager. With these new responsibilities come scheduling, monitoring and critiquing everyone’s work (but be careful if that person is your live-in partner or spouse). And we all have to work together and pitch in to achieve peak levels of productivity (no inter-office fighting, all boardroom meetings have to be scheduled – and the toilet paper rolls need to be replaced – and all equipment must be shared).
But I’m starting to like this new workplace. And, coming from the Event Industry, I still get to do many of the things I used to get to do at the office, at home. With my 7-year-old son I get to test out all his toys (Beyblades, Science and Magic Kits, Lego, Action Figures and Board Games). My daughter’s a bit older, so we get to organize her stuffed animals by age and test out their durability in the odd pillow fight. And we have our own game rentals here – our own mini golf course, handheld arcade games, made up tabletop games, electronic basketball in the backyard, water tag and more. Our newest fun food ideas typically come as we wait for our next online grocery delivery. It’s amazing the kind of things you can put together from your pantry when you are running out of food. We have Goop Cookies (made with mixed sugar cereals, craisins, and melted chocolate chips), ice cream sundae bars (with candy toppings), along with pancake/choco-waffle Sandwiches with a Nutella surprise. And our teambuilding and parties are second-to-none. Our after work meet-ups include Karaoke and Game nights, Video Game Tournaments, Water Balloon Distance Toss and Driveway Olympics.
So, it’s not all bad in my new work world. The clients I have spoken to on the phone have been great. Its really nice to get to know people a bit better as we both occasionally have a child or other family member interrupt our calls and lead our conversations in new directions, discussing how everyone is coping and the different ways we’re all making this work. I like how real and raw we can all be, and I also like how optimistic people are in Canada. We may all be isolated at home, but we truly are all in this together. I like new conference or video calls with co-workers – its nice to see all the new beards and hairdos. I like knowing that, even though I was a great multitasker before, that there is always a new “beast” mode for me to aspire to. I like that I can organize my own day and be just as efficient at home as I can in my office.
Who knows what tomorrow brings? There are a lot of uncertainties at this time. It’s only been a few short weeks, but it feels like a lifetime ago that I was rushing to drop my kids off to school, grabbing a quick coffee on my way in to work and walking in to answer 30 emails. Luckily, I still get to go to work every day. My kids still get to go to school. But, there is no rushing around, the coffee at home is much cheaper and I have lots of extra time now that there’s no commute. I can get used to this for a few months. I do miss my coworkers, and the hustle and bustle of the office, but I get that in a new way working from home. Sure, it would be nice to have office cleaners that came magically over night and cleaned everything, but nothing is perfect. We just clean as we go. It’s part of our new work responsibilities.
We make do. We change. We alter our behaviour to suit our circumstances. It’s how we survive. We just hope our families and friends all make it out of this pandemic safe and sane. Social isolation is just a state of mind. Working from home, as long as I get to be around those nearest and dearest to me, has certainly grown on me. I especially don’t mind now having an office with a view, even if that view is my 7-year-old son in the bathroom.
I wonder how you are coping. Would love to hear from you below or by email.
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