As the reality of how contagious Covid19 actually is sets in around the world, more and more countries are advising people to stay at home as much as possible. Introverts around the world probably rejoiced. Of all we mammals, they might be the best suited for comfort wear and indoor life. What about the rest of us? We find ourselves enmeshed in a growing list of contradictions in this strange new digital world. And if you aren’t indoors yet, global infection rates show that you soon will be.
The lure of working from home has been a key piece of the modern economy. We know people, the favored ones, who have been able to do this for some time. While we toil away in physical offices we think of them: Messy hair, snacks at the ready, music or television playing in the background. What’s not to like? Right? Well, the reality, as millions of people are finding out, is actually much more complicated.
Single and Singled Out
For singles, working from home might be the best thing that has happened since Netflix and chill – until a few days, a week or month has passed, and you haven’t seen or spoken to anyone face to face. That tenuous, blurry boundary between work and personal time might now become non-existent. A call at 7pm/7am? Sure why not. You’re not doing much else. Maintaining a routine is going to be a challenge and also incredibly important for the days to avoid sliding into each other. We are social creatures and isolation can leave us feeling alone. Check in on your extroverted friends and see if they need a Facetime (chances are they might have already reached out already – you know extroverts!).
All across Italy there are examples of how to socialize during self-isolation. A Spanish fitness instructor held a workout in a quad for quarantined residents. Let’s keep in touch and get creative.
Working on My Last Nerve
For families, working from home opens up a whole can of worms. Any sense of work/life balance may go out the window, particularly for those who are in leadership positions of organizations, medical staff, or teachers. No matter where you are in the Covid Quarantine, consider setting some ground rules as early as possible.
Where is the work space? How flexible are the work hours? What’s the strategy with children during conference calls or videos that need taping? These are all seemingly tiny decisions that will make a big impact on everyday life in close quarters. Make time to discuss and evaluate them on a weekly basis, keeping in mind that your particular situation might change as rapidly as the national or global one.
For partners who used to both work outside the home, you are now back to back in what increasingly feels like a foxhole. This is particularly true of people who live in big cities where the outer world made up for less square footage indoors. Recognizing that you are now in a roommate like situation can help prevent fights from breaking out over piles of dishes or laundry. Divide and conquer or you might be dividing when this whole things lifts.
Mix in additional childcare duties – that include navigating virtual schooling – and you have a recipe for volatility. Talk, talk, talk to each other about who needs help with what or you might, like many couples in China, be heading to file for divorce the second life goes back normal.
Stop Me from Snacking!
For all of us there will be the same universal truth: snacking will be our collective downfall. You will not be able to resist the compulsion to eat -whether you are working or resting or teaching children at home. You will not be able to convince your stomach you just ate. It won’t matter when you had your last meal. Boredom is a hungry bedfellow.
When/where possible, try to get outside, maintain social distance, and walk, run, swim. If you are in an at risk group because of age or immune related issue the Youtube is a treasure trove of at-home workouts.