I answered the phone today and talked with a potential new client. She asked how I was and vice versa.
Even though I had only known Joan for a total of three exchanged emails and two minutes of phone time, she exclaimed, “This working from home is so hard!”
As a consultant and entrepreneur for the past 29 years, I have always worked from home, and let me share with you that this experience is not your typical “working from home.”
And, here’s why:
In the almost 30 years that I have worked from home, there has never been such universal (as in the entire Universe!) stress. I have had family and friends die, illnesses diagnosed, and a plethora of other challenges, but everyone, including my numerous and varied support systems, wasn’t stressed at the same time.
I remember trying to work during 9/11 and I couldn’t focus. Slowly though, I made my way through the cycle of grief. Unlike 9/11, this is a sustained and ongoing stress spanning the globe. We don’t know when it will end, or how exactly our world will be changed during the process.
CHILD CARE︱ELDER CARE︱DEPENDENT CARE
The experience that my three adult children have of me working is my “working from home” and sometimes “going off to work.” But through the years, whether I was at home or with a client, when they were young we always had babysitters. I never had the additional responsibility of simultaneously managing their daily routine, and certainly not overseeing remote schoolwork. Never did I think that I could work 40 hours a week and take care of three kids, even with the tremendous support of my extraordinarily involved and very capable husband.
Right now, my mother and daughter are living with us temporarily, and luckily they are both independent. Even so, working in a house full of people is quite different than working in a home office when no one else is around. Oftentimes it is more fun, but sometimes we have to compete for space and WiFi. And there are so many distractions!
LOSS OF JOB︱LOSS OF INCOME
As a consultant, I have work periods when I must work 60 hours for weeks almost continuously. I hire colleagues and ramp up. I also have incredibly slow periods when I wonder if and when there will be more work. While the income instability that occurred during the 2008 recession was very disturbing, this current experience is far more extreme. It will take years, perhaps decades for the economy to fully rebound.
So, this is not working from home. This is working through a pandemic and trying to stay safe.
Now that I have shared all the huge differences, what’s the same?
Hope and connection make all the difference. Acknowledge the stress and then find the gratitude and appreciation. It may be easier to focus on what you are missing right now, but take time to also consider what is good in your life.
There are still 24 hours in a day and we must be realistic about what we can accomplish.
Our physical and emotional health are paramount. Take care of yourself! Eat well, exercise, and do mind-quieting exercises.
Our relationships, both personal and professional, matter. Continue to invest in them.
The skills you had before this pandemic are still your skills. No one can take them from you.
And if anyone suggests that this current experience is what it’s like to work from home, tell them to call me!