Well it looks like more of us are going to be working from home, for the near and potetially farther future. As someone who has been a mostly remote worker for the last ten years, I have some thoughts and some suggestions that may make life a little easier for everyone. I hope this will help. And if it doesn’t help, I hope you will get a chuckle or two.
- The Zoom world is not really integral to the usual work-from-home culture, but it seems it’s here to stay. We are now in some unprecedented times. May I suggest, if you are having a meeting during the pandemic, to agree to your level of dress, and to agree to something FAR below “business attire.” There is NOTHING more depressing than getting dressed in business attire just to sit in front of a screen and feel uncomfortable for people who cannot see anything but your face and shoulders. I, personally, have been regularly letting people know that I will be appearing in my Pandemic Best, which is a clean t-shirt with a cardigan or hoodie over it, and hair in a ponytail. I make no promises about pants.
- On the subject of pants, for the purposes of quarantine, pajama pants are pants. Leggings are pants. Shorts are pants. Whatever makes you not want to run outside into the wide world is pants.
- You were supposed to laugh about the pants.
- Unless you are single and live in a place with no kids and no family, your work life is no longer 9 to 5, and even if it wasn’t before it definitely isn’t now. You think you’re going to get everything done. You won’t. Your laundry will call to you. Your kitchen will call to you. Snacking will become a new pasttime. This is normal. This is why people who work from home send email at 11 pm. We get our work done but we work strange hours. But you can let it get out of hand and end up working far more than your usual number of hours, so try to track what you’re doing. You might think you need to make up a full hour for that time you spent mesmerized by your son’s trip through Skyrim, but you were really only mesmerized for 15 minutes. Speaking of which…
- Welcome to the Pandemic. If you have a kid or a spouse, you are going to get distracted. The best you can do is remember that they are trying to get stuff done, too. In the case of your spouse, he or she would not have bothered you if they didn’t need to. In the case of your kids, remember that they are going to need SO MUCH THERAPY after this is over and the more time you can give them now, the less time and cost it will be for you later.
- That last bit was also a joke but only a little. I’m picking out therapists already.
- Agree to have power hours. I am doing this with my coworking space. We have twice weekly online power hours where we get online, share what we are going to do, and then go heads down for an hour. We are doing this with the kids and each other at home now, too, and it’s giving everyone really good heads-down time to get work done and leave each other alone. At first I thought that it would be good to end this time with a lunch break or coffee but in truth everyone wants to just keep working when it’s done. I highly recommend it.
- Make phone calls off of the computer. For goodness sakes we don’t have to see each other all the time. Make a real phone call, talk through a project, and then hang up and get it done. You’ll really be ok if you don’t see each other’s faces every time you talk.
That’s my advice for Working at Home during the Pandemic. Stay safe out there. In there. And if you need help writing somenthing, re-writing something, editing something, or teaching something, don’t forget to call on me for help.