Our small office is working from home because of the pandemic. One woman with young children is being paid full-time but has made it clear that during the day she’s busy with homework, virtual dance lessons, etc. The rest of us are grateful to have jobs but are resenting this. Advice?
It may be the acme of hypocrisy, since I’ve spent most of my adult life working from home, but I’ve always been a little leery of people who “work from home” – especially those who aren’t particularly used to or geared to it.
I’m used to it, and I love my work, so I wake up every day champing at the bit to get going.
I used to work as a writer/producer for a talk show, and our boss, who was also the host, used to “work from home” a lot – usually two or three days a week. We knew it was mostly a crock. The guy who sat next to me and I would joke about it.
Once our boss called to ask what was happening and tell us how hard she was working.
The caller I.D. read: “Tito’s Hair Salon.”
Of course now, because of COVID-19, hordes of people are genuinely working from home. I believe many are struggling with it, especially those with little kids and/or kids staying home from school.
I tried to “work from home” when I was a stay-at-home dad overseeing three little kids. I’m the first to admit that it did not work. I laugh at myself now until I want to put my head down on my desk and weep when I think of my former plan: “I’ll write while they nap.”
Naive. When by some miracle I managed to “put them down” – to use that macabre parenting term – for a nap, I became a rest-seeking missile myself and ran, not walked, and dove, literally not figuratively, into bed for a nap of my own.
For me, the ticket back to sanity and productivity was getting help: mostly a part-time caregiver, plus my mother and my wife, who took off-peak shifts.
But that’s easier said than done, these days. It might be hard for her to get help.
A hired caregiver? You’re not supposed to have outside people in your house these days. And you don’t know how scrupulous the caregiver may or may not have been about sequestration.
Mother or mother-in-law come over? You have to be especially careful in COVID-19 times about the possibility of exposing older people to the virus.
Spouse help out? Maybe your colleague is a single mom, or her partner is a useless layabout who refuses to lend a hand (unfortunately not that far-fetched a scenario).
So I say: Be compassionate. See whether she can work flexible hours, e.g. 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., then take wall-climbing kids to the park to blow off steam, then resume in evenings when the children are asleep. Or whatever she can manage.
Ultimately, though, I think this is a matter for a boss to manage and you should give him/her a heads up. You say you’re a small shop, so I can only assume if one person isn’t pulling their weight then it is increasing everyone else’s workload and could wind up making you all look bad.
Don’t think of yourself as ratting your colleague out. It’s battle conditions and you’re a platoon. Or maybe the better analogy is a life raft: If it sinks, you all go down. Good luck and stay well.
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