In our strange new world that is the COVID-19 pandemic, I am grateful that I no longer run a small business or employ staff. Unlike me, my partner Neil who is in transition to retirement, works three days a week in the city for a large corporation.
For the past few weeks I have felt anxious about COVID-19 and his workplace arrangement. He assures me hand sanitiser and social distancing is practised but he still needs to access the elevator to the seventh floor like a myriad of others.
One of my concerns is that I am the primary carer for my 93-year-old mother. And, I was to become the same for my sister scheduled to have elective surgery on her hip last Saturday.
Thankfully, this week Neil elected to work from home and my sister’s surgery was cancelled the day before the operation. I breathe a sigh of relief and realise that my anxiety levels have subsided somewhat.
Midweek there’s now two of us at home. Err, I mean three, as our fur-baby, Coco the Tonkinese, demands attention when she’s hungry, bored, cold or about to chuck up. We all need to share space and I’m delighted we renovated the study/hobby room last year which is where we’re now congregated.
As restrictions on travel and time outdoors grow daily, we need to adapt even more. With forty years spent commuting to an office, Neil has had to make the biggest adjustment.
In the middle of writing this blog, I hear him mutter: ‘’Looks like the remote access has sh*t itself again.’ As he waits to get back online I find him watching a guitar demonstration by Mark Knopfler. I don’t blame him, it drops out at least twice daily.
At the end of his second day working from home, I decide to ask him some questions about his new location:
How have the first two days gone?
Things were going well until about 11am on day one when the remote connection into the business dropped out for four hours due to serious congestion. My productivity plunged off a cliff.
This congestion experience was repeated on day two, but I managed some work-arounds so productivity remained okay. It dropped again briefly when our cat decided to throw up her breakfast just outside the study, something not seen in my office since the days of the long lunch in the eighties.
What are the biggest adjustments you’ve had to make?
- Transitioning from breakfast mode into work mode.
- Not being able to just pop in to see someone to discuss whatever I’m dealing with.
- Sharing my chair with Coco. As soon as I get up, she takes it!
What’s the best thing about working from home?
I’m saving plenty of time not ironing shirts every day and travelling to and from the office.
Have you found it easier to wind down after your work day?
There’s more time available at the end of the day so it’s easier to get into an exercise routine.
What do you miss most about the water-cooler repartee?
Sharing non-work stories such as footy, gossip, what we did on the weekend and so on.
On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate working from home?
At the moment, I’d say 3 but trending gently north.
From my point of view, having Neil here is quite reassuring. We’ve got more time for interaction and dare I say, laughter, especially in the afternoon on day one when he yawns, and says: ‘It’s a bit hard not being able to have a nap in the afternoon’. I feel his pain!
How have you adapted to a change in routine during COVID-19?