WFH: But This is Different

Let’s face it, this is not your typical Work from Home situation. In general, when professionals work from home it is because they made the choice to do just that. They are either self-employed or do so with the support from their employer. Right now, during a pandemic that choice was made for many.

March 6th was the last day that I was in my on-campus office. I left excited for my vacation over the spring break. My partner and I were Key West bound to spend 5 days and 4 nights with my parents. I was excited for the trip and we had a fantastic time. As we watched the news, I quickly came to realize that my world was about to drastically change, everyone’s world was going to drastically change.

I returned with to a request to self-isolate at home due to my travel (a completely rational request) during that time the pandemic continued to grow in the United States and it became quite clear that I was not going to be returning to my office anytime in the near future. Our building was closed and yesterday Virginia was issued a stay at home order until June 10th.

None of this has been my personal choice, I’ve set-up my home office space and have reworked how I am now working going from a face-to-face heavy advising/meetings schedule to a project-based preparation zone. It’s different and in reality, a lot of what we do cannot be completely replaced with zoom meetings.

This isn’t just working from home. It’s working with uncertainty, it’s working without our health and wellness outlets, it’s working but it’s not really “working.” It’s different and to pretend that this can be done the same way that typical work from home can be done is not doing us any justice. We have to allow for the grief and emotions that come along with having this choice made for us.

While I appreciate the guidance from our work at home friends, it has helped. But there’s more to this than establishing a schedule and dedicated workspace. This is a complete reworking of the routines we used to have and there isn’t a virtual (at home) replacement for all the things. And it is being done during a time where our whole world is going to look different when we come to the other end of this. It’s being done under the pressure and fear that this virus could take loved one, could take us, could take me…

This is work from home, with anger, sadness, grief, fear, appreciation, gratitude, disbelief and all the other emotions. This is work from home under a global crisis and really none of us really know how the hell to do it. We are all just doing our best every single day.

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