Now everyone is WFH, and now everyone knows that it’s no picnic. How do you fit laundry between Zoom meetings and performance reviews? How do you finish that white paper when your kid is asking for a snack every five minutes? Do you make dinner before or after that urgent meeting that’s been rescheduled five times? Deliveries. House repair. Nosy neighbors. These concerns have always been there — and now you have to deal with them.
Perhaps the hardest part is that you’re expected to deliver the same results, produce the same output, work by the same metrics, even though the world is ending. Bosses seem to think it’s okay to call for meetings at 7am, for them to extend past lunch or dinner, to expect you to answer emails after working hours.
I’ve been working remotely for years, and even I’m struggling with working from home during the pandemic. We have a pretty good internet connection at home. It’s stable and fast enough to support voice and video calls and shared work platforms all afternoon, when all four adults in the house are working and Lucas has school. But sometimes somebody’s connection lags, and we have to wait until everybody’s free before we can restart the router. Sometimes everyone is occupied–meeting, video call, class–and a delivery is scheduled to arrive, or dinner needs to get cooked. Very often Lucas wants to play, and he asks each one of us in turn, and we all have to work.
Sometimes I work in the kitchen. Sometimes I bang out drafts while making dinner. Sometimes I put together reports while folding laundry. Sometimes I have to take a break from work to play football with Lucas.
It’s hard enough being a working parent. It’s even harder now.
Frankly, I miss dressing up for work. I miss having lunch with teammates, and chatting during bathroom breaks. I miss brainstorming sessions punctuated with jokes and gossip. I miss setting up events and attending conferences, meeting new people and figuring out partnerships.
I actually miss people.
We make it work. If Oneal and I both have meetings in the morning, we can ask my mom to play with Lucas and feed him lunch, especially if our morning meetings extend past noon. Lucas has school in the afternoons, and Oneal is usually the one who watches over him during those 45 minutes, which gives me 45 uninterrupted minutes for work–or a workout. Usually my mom cooks in the mornings, and I usually handle dinner, but we switch as needed. My brother does the dishes at night. On weekends, to give us a break–especially if I have an event–my brother will take Lucas to his room to play games or watch TV. In the evenings, so Mom and I can watch The Crown, my brother will take Lucas for a walk.
It’s not easy, and fairly often it’s stressful, but we make it work. Sometimes Lucas will sit in my lap while I have a meeting, and I’m lucky that my teammates are always happy to see him. Sometimes Lucas begs for attention, or insists that he only wants to play with me, while I have a report to finish or an article to write. Sometimes Oneal has a meeting at 1 am, or a webinar at 9pm.
Still, working at home has its perks. I can poke around the kitchen for a glass of water, a cup of coffee or a snack anytime. When I need a break, I can do a 15-minute kettlebell routine or a 30-minute yoga practice. If I’m not feeling so great, I can go to the bedroom for a short rest. I can wear workout clothes or dasters all day.
How are you making WFH work for you?