From The Bunker

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020-03-18 13:00:00-04:00 No comments

Like most of you, I'm "sheltering in place" — which is actually not all that different from what I already do. The difference is that now I don't have a choice.

Colleagues of mine are speculating how COVID-19 will change work culture in the U.S., to say nothing of the whole world. I've long felt the vast majority of jobs that could be done from a PC at home should be done from a PC at home. There's no earthly reason to have someone drive 45 minutes or whatever to a cubicle in a rented building that costs tons of money to heat and cool and clean and cater, except when you have no choice but to have a place where people can go to look other people in the face. You've heard of "bullshit jobs"; here's "bullshit commuting."

Work-from-home is a great time- and cost-saver, but it isn't all fish'n'roses for sure. For one, it makes it even harder to separate work life from the rest of your life — so if we do end up making Every Home An Office, we'll have to fight to make sure that office comes with an off button.

Since 2001 I've worked freelance from home and remote-worked for a couple of different companies. It was difficult for me to work from home at first, because it was too easy to waste an entire day doing nothing and then cram all my work into a few hours on another day. I had to learn, very fast, how to pace myself and how to manage both my time and my work area. I've always had an office with a door I can shut, but when I moved cross-country one of the stipulations I had was that wherever we ended up, we needed to have a place where I could to the same thing.

I'm also lucky in that the job I work now respects work-life balance. When 5PM rolls around my time, my day is over. Many other folks may not be so lucky.

And so far, many folks I know who are now under mandatory WFH orders are not adjusting well, for variations of the above reasons. Chiefly, they get stir crazy. I feel bad for them, in big part because I feel unsuited to giving them advice about how to cope. Most of my coping mechanisms for WFH were developed over a long period of time, and I can't expect other people to pivot right to them with a snap of the fingers. (Like many other things that cannot be done overnight, such as, oh, ventilator and mask manufacturing ... but I digress.)

Still, I offered what I could. Even if it's nothing but solace-in-the-moment, that's something. We are going to need a whole hell of a lot of such resourcefulness for a long time to come.

I know all this sounds relatively anodyne compared to the other things I could be talking about, but the last thing you-all need is more stress, right?

Tags: technology these troubled times work