People are working at home at record levels--some happily and some not so happily. Some managers are supportive of this, and some are convinced that their employees will do nothing but, well this all day:

Please ignore this tweet. This is not working at home. This is being home. This is a day off.

Now, as someone who has worked from home for 13 of the last 16 years, I can tell you that laundry is a lot easier to get washed (but not folded, because folding laundry is the worst). And it's super handy when one of my children is sick because God gave us Netflix and unlimited screen time when a child has a fever. 

But, this is not what normal working from home looks like. When we work from home normally, schools and daycares are not closed so your children should be at school, at daycare, or there should be someone else doing primary childcare. That can be a spouse or a nanny, but the employee is not the one changing diapers, playing board games, or cleaning up the playroom.

Working from home does free up commuting time allowing you to use that time for other things, but please don't think we're all napping and making big meals with our families.

Remember, at lunch, everyone who is not gainfully employed at home is gone--for the most part. You might get to eat with your family if you have a work-from-home spouse, or your spouse is tending the children. And that is a perk! For sure! But, you also don't get to go out to lunch with your coworkers. 

Working from home is actual work. It's not doing yoga. It's not being able to pop over to the neighbor's house for a cup of tea. And certainly (although all work-at-home women have been asked) it's not time to babysit someone else's children. 

Yes, you can put in a load of laundry. Yes, you can run to the grocery store at lunch and buy perishables because there is room in your fridge. Yes, you can work in your pajamas. Yes, your commute is 30 seconds long. These things are great. But, it's not just staying home. It's work.

During these extraordinary times where schools and everything else is closed and people are losing their jobs right and left, it's a tremendous help to work from home. But, please don't think this is what your normal day looks like. If productivity isn't as high as it is in the office, it's not a failure of home-based work, but a failure of the entire world collapsing while we're working spreadsheets.

Working from home is typically productive and beloved by many. This is a chance to see how it goes, but don't mistake it for being anywhere close to normal.

Published on: Mar 17, 2020
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