This profile series aims to bring some realness to the work-from-home conversation and hopefully, a bit of levity as we navigate the new normal of social distancing. At the end of the day, we are all in this together trying to do the best we can.
What type of work do you do and how long have you been working from home?
I am a clinical psychologist working for a large healthcare system. I provide telehealth services. I have been working from home since November 2019. However, my husband and 2-year-old recently joined the work-from-home situation.
Describe your work-from-home setup.
Up until early March, I had a nice setup in our guest room in the bonus space above our garage. It was private and quiet, had a desk chair and an L-shaped desk. Once my husband and son joined me at home, we had to switch the office setups to accommodate his work. Now I work on an old table that had previously been in the laundry room. We put it in a corner of our bedroom and I either use an exercise ball as a chair or I use a sitting chair. We need to invest in a second desk chair.
Are there any work-from-home challenges that you find surprising?
I find myself wanting to skip my work and join my family when I hear them laughing and having fun. I'm also constantly tempted to take a nap since my bed is just staring at me and calling my name the entire time I am working.
What’s the one work-from-home item that you can’t live without (besides your computer and cell phone)?
Video chats with my colleagues are essential to feeling connected. Since I have been working remotely for five months, I had already learned the value of quick video check-ins to feel less isolated. Now that my colleagues are also working from home because of COVID-19, it has become even more important to stay connected in order to keep team morale up.
Real talk: If you have kids at home, how do you balance being productive at work while also giving them the attention they need?
We are lucky that we both have flexibility in our schedules. My husband watches my son from wake-up until post-lunch nap time, and I watch him from after his nap until bedtime. I schedule all my therapy sessions and meetings during the morning and nap time, and I can do my charting at night. My husband does emails in the morning and his more focused work in the afternoon and evenings. Overall, this system has been working well and we are so fortunate and grateful to have bosses that are supportive and understanding of the situation.
What is your funniest or most cringe-worthy work-from-home experience?
Day one of having the whole family at home, my husband was on kid duty so I could conduct my therapy sessions uninterrupted. At one point, I heard screaming outside. During my next break, I went downstairs to see what happened and found my 2-year-old son covered in red welts. I asked my husband what happened. Apparently while my husband was trying to juggle his work with childcare duty, my son decided to explore the new fire ant hills in our yard and was bitten up (naturally). I was soooo mad! How could this happen?! However, when it was my turn to juggle work and childcare that afternoon, I wasn't paying close enough attention and my son ingested who knows how many handfuls of sand and rocks. I guess that evens us out. Luckily, we have all gotten better since day one (and the fire ant bites are almost healed after two weeks)!
Based on this experience, would you elect to work from home permanently?
Based on my current arrangement, NO. Once I can go back to my usual workspace, I will continue to work from home.
And finally… real clothes, comfy clothes or a combination of both?
This isn't a fair question since I'm nine months pregnant and at this point, I wear what fits. On days when I don't have video therapy sessions or video meetings, I wear pregnancy leggings and a t-shirt (or my pajamas). Otherwise, I try to wear a comfortable but professional-looking dress.