You get changed from your night pyjamas to your day pyjamas and spritz some dry shampoo in your hair so you feel ‘fresh’. Your morning commute involves an 8.15am express to the coffee machine, then stopping all stations to absolute mayhem. You sit down at your desk (a small corner of the dining table next to batman figurines and a half-eaten banana from two days ago) and see your inbox filling up. Two minutes later you are bombarded by your two pint-sized colleagues who would like a second breakfast and one may have pooed. As you try to wrangle the kids out of your ‘home office’ your mobile goes, and you remember you are 15 minutes late to your 9.00am team meeting via Zoom. Welcome to your new workplace.
There is so much content out there since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic on working from home, but the problem is, “working from home” has very different connotations to the reality we are faced with currently. We are not “working from home” as we previously knew it. Gone are the days where working from home involved simply avoiding the morning commute, staying in your tracksuit pants and punching out your work (with perhaps doing a few loads of washing in between). Those days were different. There was an end in sight, and you knew that tomorrow you would be “back to normal”.
Anyone with kids (or has spent a significant period of time with one) will know that they don’t often fit neatly into schedules, especially pre-school age children. “Mummy has an 11am call so you need to be quiet and play” quickly translates into “11am is a great time to have an epic fight with my sibling and perhaps take a toy golf club to mummy’s computer monitor!”. All your usual childcare options are unavailable – grandparents need to be protected and many schools/ELCs are closed. The pressure and mental toll on working parents is immense right now and it is important that both employees and employers view this period at home in a new light.
For many employers, they are having to navigate the new realm of managing a remote workforce and weighing up the reasonable level of flexibility to afford to their employees (while many are dealing with their own personal pressures at home). For employees, many are desperately trying to replicate their previous role remotely while caring for kids and animals and potentially other loved ones like parents. They don’t want to appear lazy or uncommitted and are just trying to keep it all together.
Expectations need to be revisited between employees and employers because currently, most of us are at home doing our best and trying to work, not simply working from home.