I’ve been working from home the last couple of weeks. I am very fortunate that I am still employed, full time, and have a role and a team that supports me working remotely. Others I know haven’t been able or allowed to work from home, or are no longer employed at all.
It is cliche to say that my lifestyle has permitted me to transitioning to working from home without many problems. I have no kids, I have no housemate. My work environment remains entirely pants optional at this point.
But I am still looking forward to this all being over and being back in the office with everyone, even when work does turn slightly to custard.
For a lot of really good reasons I was never going to write about work on here, and I won’t say anything about the work I do, but given what has been going on I wanted to share a little on how I work from home.
The first week was on the kitchen table. I have a study with a desk, but there wasn’t any room for my work laptop with my own computers. Part way through the week I made a bit more space on the kitchen table to have my personal laptop there as well, and made the background better for video chats – every day has been non-stop video chats or conference calls.
Last weekend I decided I was probably going to be at home for a while, so I tidied up my desk, and moved into the study. The light in here is good for video conferences as well.
Working as a team
Work has never been busier. No one is doing the 7.5 hours a day we are told to put on our timesheets. No one. No one is only working 5 days. No one. Even if it is doing emails on Sunday so that Monday morning isn’t as insane. Everyone is pitching in, even if they aren’t dedicated to responding to COVID-19 – there is still everything else going on, and while it might not have the same focus, it is still important.
Each morning we try and have a catchup after the 8:30AM “crit sit” – which I have mercifully been removed from. Set the priorities of the day, subject to change without notice. There is a constant chat thread going with the whole team in it. We use it for work stuff, but I also ask what everyone is having for lunch, try and retain some semblances of normalcy.
In the evening we all get in on a video chat to give an update on our tasks, vent and complain about everyone else that isn’t doing what they should be doing, and check if there are new things we think might head sideways the next day. On Tuesday we all organised to put shirts and ties on for the end of day VC, and didn’t tell the boss – there was much laughing.
Near the end fo the VC I announce I want to go for a walk and catch some Pokemon, and that generally signals time on the day and we call stumps. The VC ends, and most of us keep working for a little while longer. Finishing up our sidebars and final emails, before actually finishing work.
The persistent team chat, and end of day VCs have proven invaluable when working remotely. I was the first to stay home – no car and a cough meant I was much more comfortable staying home – but now most of us work from home, with some of us heading into the office once or twice a week.
Another cliche that has developed over the last couple of weeks has been the call to stop referring to Social Distancing as Social Distancing, and make it clear the important part is the physical distance, and everyone really needs to he band together and remain connected as much as possible. Again, this hasn’t been a massive challenge for me. My family live in another state, and talking to them on video chat is quite normal. But even my introverted self misses social contacts and seeing friends, even if it is just dinner at Will’s on a Sunday.
Another friend invited me to join a Slack channel she is in with other IT workers, some in Canberra, others in QLD. This has been really good, and a good way to connect with others, even if just to laugh at some stupid joke, or vent about the last thing a user did.
I remain active on social media, and have enjoyed editing a 15 second video every morning of me making my morning coffee.
A friend called me from Melbourne just to chat in the middle of the day. He and his partner were both working from home with their 6-8 month old (I am still confused exactly how old the kid is, but he’s still small).
I don’t often initiate contact with friends back in Melbourne, I assume they are all busy with whatever they are doing and don’t want to interrupt them, but he said I should call him back for a chat sometime, and I will.
I’m glad I am still somewhat addicted to Pokemon Go. I’ve had this middle cold the last couple of weeks (went to doctor, was sent home with ‘you have a cold, you’ll be OK’), so I haven’t been up to bike rides or gym (when going to the gym was a thing). Every evening I make sure I get out for a walk, even if it isn’t a long one. I think that has been really important for me. To get out of the house and away from a screen. Yes, I see the irony, but you don’t stare at your phone the whole time, ok.
There is also the temptation to stay working way too late, there isn’t much of a commute anymore. Getting out of the study and going to the couch is important at the end of the day.
While it is crucial everyone that can stay home, do stay home, walking around the block, and keeping 2+ metres from anyone you come across is OK, and should be encouraged. I just hope the situation doesn’t deteriorate to the point where we will be instructed to remain at home, and not permitted to leave at all.
This is so important. I realise it is much easier for me to manage than a lot of others, but while this is all going on, please, please stay home. It isn’t just whether you get unwell, it is if you pass it on to someone else. Even if your symptoms are mild, others may end up in an ICU. Even if you THINK your symptoms will be mild, and the death rate amongst young people is lower, no one is immune. Pneumonia can impact anyone, and the risk isn’t that you’ll get a fever, or a sore throat, but that you will develop viral pneumonia and require equipment to help you breath.
It is still early in Australia, and we still have time to get ahead of the worst of this, but with an incubation time of up to 2 weeks, the impacts of changes and decisions made now won’t necessarily be seen for 2 weeks. Our healthcare system is better positioned to deal with this, and our leaders aren’t nearly as incompetent as 45, but not been as bad as he is, does not mean they are good.
Please, if you can, stay home. Make an effort to stay home.