Working At Home Isn’t Working from Home

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(This is also part of a Twitter Thread.)

Right now a lot of people are working from home during the COVID crisis. @Neilmwebb noted “You’re not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work.”

I’d like to expand on this observation. Because people are not just home during a crisis working, there’s a lot more going on we need to consider.

THE CRISIS: Yes, we’re at home during a crisis working, and it’s a big crisis. It’s everywhere, affecting everyone – no one will be unaffected, even if they think they aren’t. This makes everything else more complicated.

NEWCOMERS: A lot of people are working from home completely for the first time. Sure they did a day or three here, but now it’s long term and all the time. Help them out.

FAMILY: Now a lot of us are at home with our spouse, kids, parents, etc. We have to learn to work with or around them – and they with us. We worry about them. We need to support each other.

CARETAKING: Friends and family may need help, aid, and care – and some of us are providing it on top of working. We may have increased caretaking duties. We have to understand others are in this situation.

TECHNOLOGY: We’ve got to learn new technology to work from home, or deal with limits and challenges we haven’t experienced before. We need to share, teach, or work around problems.

SCHEDULES: We’re working from home, we’ve got a crisis, and we’ve got other people’s schedules to deal with. We all have to work out new schedules – we best cooperate to do it.

SAFETY: We’ve now got to wash our hands, practice social distancing, clean surfaces, etc. We have new practices we have to do to prevent infection. That takes up time and mental bandwidth.

TASK CHANGES: We might be cooking more, or we’re ordering online more, or eating out less, and so on. Our usual tasks for daily life are disrupted, and that’s hard to adjust to. We have to be aware of this.

FINANCES: The economy has a hole blown in it, unemployment jumped, and we don’t know what’s going on. We’re worried about the finances of ourselves and others. We’re trying to figure it out – while working at home.

STRESS: Let’s face it, this is a mess. It’s awful. It didn’t have to be that way. We need to back each other up, help each other out, and take breaks.

UNPREDICTABILITY: We don’t know when this ends, which means not only is all of the above happening, we have no idea of when it stops. That brings many pressures onto us.

So we’re not just working from home. We’re not just home during a crisis working. We’re home during a crisis working while having our lives massively disrupted by that crisis. We need to understand this in order to do better, to help others, and to stay mentally and physically healthy.