Adjusting to working from home and problems that come with it

April 29, 2020 | G. Michael Dobbs

So have you adjusted to this working from home new normal, yet? If you’re like me you may occasionally have a problem or two.

It’s not like I don’t like being home. I like my house.

I find I have to construct those boundaries that naturally exist when going to an office.

Ironically, though, I usually find reasons not to be in the office at The Reminder Headquarters for World Domination. There’s some sort of odd karma here at work.

The first thing I’ve noticed is I’ve found myself daring to sleep later because I’m working from home. This is sort of experimenting with an addictive drug. There are few things more enticing than the lure of sleep and on more than one occasion I’ve succumbed to a half hour more shut-eye.

Next I’ve noticed that I get a set of clothes and wear them until I spill something on them. At that point I change. I’ve gone four days with the same shirt. That’s my record, so far.

Shaving? Every three or four days. As long as my main professional contact is through Zoom conferences on the computer who knows how I’m dressed or if I shaved.

I did shave to cover an event with Congressman Neal. I hope he appreciated the sign of respect.

Yes, yes, I do wear pants everyday and I don't shuffle around in pajamas and robe. You must draw a line in the sand somewhere.

Let’s talk hair for a moment. Facebook is filled with photos of people getting a trim from a family member, most likely someone who had never picked up a pair of scissors before. There is potential public amusement – and humiliation – by this practice.

Each day, I am trying to tame my errant locks that are longer than they have been in years. It makes me think back to the college days when my father made the length of my hair an issue.

Now I spend a longer time shoving hair behind my ears to make it assume some order. I’ve taken to wearing a baseball cap inside – something I do not do regularly.

All of this grooming – or lack of it – is nothing compared to the real issues of work.

I’ve found that having certain boundaries is helpful. It’s helpful to go someplace to do work rather than set up camp on the dining room table. Not everyone has this privilege and I’m lucky I have a home office.

At least I go someplace that is, on paper, dedicated to work. Of course my office is filled with books, DVDs, my collection of movie stills, action figures, files of various notes, reference materials and documents.

The late great Ray Bradbury once said in an interview that his collection of memorabilia in his crowded office inspired his imagination and helped him to develop stories.

My stuff tends to take me away from my work, not throw me deeper in it.

Then there are the pets. I no longer have a dog, but we have five cats, one of whom, Troi, enjoys getting up on my desk and walking on the keyboard. He’s cute and loving but that behavior tends to mess things up a bit.

My grandchildren are safely behind their own home’s walls, but I can imagine the additional stress caused by being a parent at the same time trying to do some work. Children in this day and age are not used to the idea that they can’t see their friends, participate in team sports or do other activities that are considered every day. On top of everything else, parenting is now a much more demanding activity.

All of this complaining and observation should be put into context. People are losing their jobs and their lives due to this pandemic. The phrase “We’re in It Together” is becoming more and more meaningless as the political divide widens in this nation with the encouragement of the president who calls to “liberate” certain states have been met with his supporters brandishing guns in several capitals.

These are times during which we must look seriously at the strength of our healthcare systems and insurance coverage. We need to do what can be done to prevent a pandemic or be prepared for one in the future.

So, until the governor says we can “re-open” no matter the personal side effects from working from home, I’ll certainly continue to do so. And you should do it as well.

Just put on pants, okay?

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