So you’ve just gotten the word: you’re gonna be stuck in the house for a bit. COVID19’s cloud has reached your town or city, a state of emergency has been called and you’ve been asked to practice “social distancing” in an attempt to prevent the further spread of the virus. Of course, none of us wants to be sick, so we do as we are asked.
In the meanwhile, it may feel a bit selfish to be inconvenienced by a pandemic. Some things feel trivial. Our world is in the throws of a major, species-wide crisis and now may not seem like a good time to think about anything other than the very basics.
Work, for example. Some of us will simply not be able to work, at all. How we keep the trains running in those houses is an answer still to be determined. Those of us for whom remote work is possible will just need to muddle through. No sense in making a big deal about it: we’re the lucky ones.
But working from home represents a pretty big change in your routine, even in non-pandemic circumstances. I made the commitment, years ago, that I would do my best to find a career path that included working from home. At the time, I wanted to be available as a more active father in my then-future offspring’s life. But if I’m being honest, I just wanted to work from home because I thought it would be pretty cool.
After all: as a developer, my job requires me to spend time focused on code on a machine. Much of my time is insular by design, spending focused intervals carefully picking through lines of code or pouring over documentation. One might suspect that an employee in my profession could work all day without the slightest interaction and do their jobs just fine.
One would be wrong. I learned through experience that it takes more than a convenient job to make working from home a success. It requires self-discipline, for a start. It also requires a realistic view of work life which doesn’t prejudice your idea of what a day’s work looks like.
And while some jobs require less conversation to be successful, there is no one who “doesn’t require social interaction.” Least of all you! Finding ways to be social without direct, face-to-face contact is important. And even if you’re not “going to work,” that doesn’t mean you don’t need a place to work.
On the other hand, some of the rumors are true: we really do work in our PJs. All the time. Lunch is way better with your entire kitchen at your disposal; breaks are way better with Star Trek to watch on your big, old flatscreen. And if we’re being honest, some of our coworkers’ personalities can only be enhanced with distance.
My wife is a secondary education teacher. She’s home because our state and county are in a state of emergency and the schools are closed. Not only does she need to teach kids who are now across town, but we both need to share the responsibility for continuing our own son’s education. All while managing to keep ourselves sane and functioning as professional adults. It struck me while discussing our shared family predicament: a lot of people could use some hints on how best to manage just the business of working from home.
Sadly, managing our professional lives is a low priority. We have families to look after and houses to keep up. But in the coming days, I’m going to provide a quick list of insights I’ve gained from being a work-from-home employee that might just help curb the uneasy feelings you have while trying to balance work priorities with family ones.
Don’t worry: this won’t be one of those things were I do the “drip content” marketing jazz. I’ll be writing these as I’m able to. And they’ll probably be shorter than this one introduction. I hope you get some useful information from this series! I’ll keep a running list below: