So- the work at home dynamic…

What are you supposed to wear when you work from home, yet have to appear on video calls?

My husband has been wearing t shirts, mainly vacation souvenirs sighting Carlsbad Caverns or Acadia or Utah Rocks. My daughter (who usually does her hair and adds a little mascara before class) and I urge him to wear a polo. Does it matter what you wear when you work from home? I think you need to be professional, and perhaps in the age of people being offended by anyone, you need to be neutral…Maybe someone didn’t rock in Utah…

What about meals? Do you eat your breakfast or lunch while you are on a video call?

But clothing and food aside, working from home has it’s pros and cons. My husband likes waking up six minutes before his first meeting, and commuting the twelve feet to the coffee table.

But what about boundaries?

My husband deals with many  international colleagues from his firm. There’s been many a night where he has been on a 10pm call with Japan or India or Australia. But those are planned, and he knows well in advance when these calls will take place. Unless it’s a quarter end, he doesn’t work on weekends, or receive calls or emails before 730 am, or after 7pm.

Now, this wall has crumbled.

Working from home seems to have translated to working 24/7.

He got a call the other day at 730am. Non essential. He got a call last night at 730pm. Non essential.

I know many of you will say “Ignore them.” Except he got a call last week because someone in his department didn’t respond to a 730pm call. And then my Husband got involved. Ignore sounds like a great option, except when you know that other members of your team will be called. It’s just easier to answer the call…

Many people are suggesting that we will never go back to “normal”, that many people will work from home.

I think this is a big mistake.

While it’s cute now that someone’s dog or cat flashes across the screen, or you hear a baby crying in the background, I don’t think everyone working from home is a good option. I was talking to a friend recently who has an essential, must work in a worksite job. He is a total family guy, so I was surprised when he stated that he would hate working from home. His rationale was that the two entities need to be separate, because it is really easy for work to consume you when your office is off your living room. Or, in our case, in our living room.

While I understand and appreciate that working from home is a good gig for many, I don’t think it should be the rule. I think homes should be homes first. I think you should be able to literally and figuratively leave things behind at the office

Thoughts?

138 thoughts on “Once- Work

  1. I think most people like a clear division, although some may not see it yet given the fact that they may have dropped a lot of irritants by the traditional work out of the house methods, which looks like a (temporary?) positive.

    One thing none of us miss is the brutal commutes. We called our car insurance and our monthly withdrawals have dropped by 50% because there simply is no need to drive. Not to work. Not to sports. Nowhere. Even groceries could, theoretically, be bought on foot (but we do occasionally drive).

    Having said that, teachers, including post-secondary ones, say that they miss the eye contact with their students in traditional classrooms.

    And many people are just starting to miss the social aspects.

    And for the SAHM? I really, really wish everyone would get the hell out of the house once in a while. Preferably at the same time. 🙂

    No one hear is doing video calls so I can’t answer your question on dress code. Everything is audio only. What is presentable is debatable. The Utah tee wouldn’t bother me…but if he’s dealing with Japan or something, it might. I don’t know. Keep it neutral and clean is my advice. And watch the bedhead. (Men, mostly). 😛

    Liked by 5 people

    1. My husband wears his hair short, so so far, his hair is manageable. When it gets longer….ehhh….my daughter is doing ok with online classes because many f them are on the smaller side so teachers and students are more engaged. But her friends in larger universities are struggling because it’s harder to engage and become invested. And the social….yeah…..

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  2. I’ve been tutoring from home via FaceTime for a few weeks and there are definitely some advantages.
    1. I can fold laundry while my student reads to me.
    2. I cannot see the words, so it’s easy to wait and see if he self corrects when he makes a mistake.
    3. I can take a shower, dress, and be tutoring 5 minutes later.

    But I miss the in person connection. When I taught elementary school, I always said I got paid in hugs. Remote teaching for that age would be really hard for me.

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    1. My daughter said some of her college age friends are having trouble engaging, because some of these classes don’t transition well to an online environment. And you have to be really disciplined, which many aren’t.

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  3. My husband is considered essential as a government contractor.
    He’s being forced to ‘work from home’ every other week to keep people in the office to an appropriately safe number . (it’s still over 10, but I can’t do anything about that)
    The thing is he can’t actually do any work at home. The kind of work he does is secure and must be done in a secure environment.
    This week he’s physically at work, he’s working nonstop. He’s coming home ass dragging from how much they’re trying to get done each day.
    When he’s physically at home, he’s on and off conference calls (no vid) probably in his jammies, and waiting to go finish mudding drywall, or paint what he’s already repaired.
    The delineation between work and home has new meaning in this time. And whether or not we ‘go back to’ normal life, or normal life becomes something entirely new, I’m a big fan of clear delineation between work and home.

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    1. Clearly we need boundaries. Same for kids and school. There needs to be a separation. While I get it works for some, I think it won’t work well for most. There’s already enough distraction in our lives…..

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  4. I agree for some it can work just fine but it’s not for all industries. You have to be very disciplined and you have to keep strong boundaries in place, or as you noted, there’s no separation between family and work time. In the short run, that’s fine, but not for the long-term. Cell phones create enough stress by continually crossing this barrier. We don’t need another life invasion.

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  5. We have not yet experienced the work from home life and probably won’t so it’s hard to put myself in this scenario. Many things I didn’t think of that add to the stress of this Covid situation. Kudos to all who are making the transition and making it work one way or another!!!

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  6. Sadly, what you describe wrt answering calls/emails 24/7 pretty much describes my work life before I retired. There’s always more work than time to get it done in some jobs, and technology has expanded both the ability to blur boundaries and the expectations that come with it. It was already a huge challenge for many people before the pandemic had more people working online. Students would email profs at all hours and expect answers, bosses would email … etc, you get the picture. It’d be nice if somehow this removal of boundaries were addressed at this time, but it sounds like it won’t be. People who are able to keep working remotely are just glad that option is open to them. It’s the boundary-less nature of the Internet, not the pandemic. Sigh.

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    1. Very true. But I know my husband is dealing with more, because home is now work….and people are easing into non traditional times….morning people are starting earlier, night people working later…my daughter has always set boundaries of not sending a school email before 8 or after 6….but I know most don’t think about it…

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      1. Yes, it’s been tough to set boundaries in many sectors, especially if you’re in any kind of administrative role. People have come to expect your response at all times. I didn’t even try to keep boundaries, but I knew I was very lucky that this ease of access and accompanying expectations came after my kids were grown and has left home and that I could do most of it from my phone while sitting in the living room with my husband. You’re right, it shouldn’t be this way. No wonder the world is stressed (and I mean pre-pandemic). A lot of it is technology inflicted.

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  7. Absolutely, positively agree. My home is where I escape from work. My home is shelter, safe haven.
    I think that is part of what drove me so nuts about Sunshine. He brought his work home so often: business calls, dirt poofing out of his clothes, and the way he talked about work all the time (his problem-solving method seems to be to talk through it, which ok fine but really, while I’m trying to do something to unwind after my job?)

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  8. When I worked a regular job, working from home just wasn’t doable for me. I’m easily distracted. I don’t know how other people manage it. My writing would also probably progress more quickly if I had an office elsewhere. For me the two environments are best separated.

    I’m glad you got your headphones. I hope they help you through this. I also hope your husband’s appearance doesn’t really cause you any distress.

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    1. Well, he wasn’t shaving, and he eventually realized the social distancing can go on a lot longer if he didn’t…..and yes…I think most people are not self disciplined enough to work from home.

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  9. It should be up to the individual. Some people like working from home. But as a homeschool mom, I am familiar with the difficult task of wearing two hats at home. I have to literally do a mental and personality shift between tasks. School teacher mom versus regular mom. The kids like regular mom much better.

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      1. It would take changes for sure. I hope that it doesn’t become the norm. Social people need to be around people. My mom was forced to start working by computer from home a couple years ago for a major travel related company and really missed the social contact. She was laid off yesterday. :/ Thankfully she will get unemployment. She is 78.

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      2. I’m a big believer in boundaries. How many kids are going to understand rationally why mommy or daddy can’t play now? I think for most people it’s not a good option. Just because we can adapt doesn’t mean we should

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      3. Every family is different, though. Some of us are used to appreciating each others personal space because we’ve lived like this for years. I can tell for most of the world , times are tough at home. But if you think about it, until industrial times, this was the norm. People lived together,worked together, learned together.

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      4. And then we evolved because it wasn’t the best way to do things. I think if you have young kids, working from home is hard. Not everyone are self starters and have discipline. Most need structure and routine. Not all, but most. I would not want to be a parent who has to discipline a young child now….

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  10. I guess it really depends on the type of work you do. It may work well for some and not so well for others. But I agree, working outside the home is probably best in most cases. We do need to leave the work space behind and focus on family and loved ones at home. I think home should be a safe haven and a place to rewind and rejuvenate – which is pretty difficult to achieve when work/home boundaries meld, as is the case for many these days.

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    1. I think people are able to adapt. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing long term. How often does a working parent need to tel their kid not now I’m working before it takes an emotional toll on the kid?

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      1. It would not work for me at all, so it is a case by case basis. I think fir under forties it would mainly be horrible. Plus, janitorial staff, security guards would be out of jobs, as would businesses that set up near offices. And then without using things as offices, what becomes of the space? How do we make up fit lost tax revenue? How do you train new employees to do a job when you’re remote? I think there are way too many issues with this model as a long term goal.

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  11. Separation is important, but that’s difficult sometimes if you don’t have the space. I think for video calls you still need to look “at work “. I notice news journalists online reporting and they look neat, and organized including their background space.
    When I worked I had to put on my work personality to do it and it helped leaving home. I am more people based.

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  12. Just the opposite here. Now that my husband has been working from home he leaves the office on time having established definite boundaries between work time and home time. Each morning he gets dressed in a polo shirt, enjoying the freedom to not wear business clothes, and seems to be much more content and productive when not in an office environment.

    I hope that working from home becomes the norm, for his sake, for all our sakes. Much less wasted commute time and pollution because of it, more sleep, better food choices at home, and a sense of control that one doesn’t have in an office where people are everywhere. To me telecommuting seems like a way forward to a healthier future.

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    1. I just don’t see it working. First off, what do we do with office complexes? And most people aren’t disciplined enough to be in task, and I don’t think that changes. Then, how does someone find a mentor to help them figure out the next step? My husband got his current job because of someone he met in the company. How do you know what’s out there job wise if you’re not exposed to it? Plus, what about people who don’t have room for dedicated office space in their house? If we were to all work from home, what becomes of us as a society? It would be like wall-e…. I don’t think it’s a good long term solution. I think we will lose many vital things.

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  13. My company issued a Remote Working handbook. First item: dress for work. Meaning grab a biz casual shirt and some jeans/pants. The CEO told a story of someone who was wearing a biz casual shirt, but when the laptop camera dropped by accident, the bottom half was decidedly not biz casual. LOL.

    Also, it is easier for work times to get blurred due to your hubby’s multiple time zones. He needs to decide his boundaries.

    I personally like a mix of office versus home. When I had my own company, I enjoyed days full of home office activities where I could stay comfy & cozy.

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    1. My problem is human nature. I think most people lack discipline I also think security risk of people on home unsecured connections is a problem. And then what about those with young kids who want their parents attention

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      1. My son and I discussed that we are actually thankful that this didn’t happen while I was still married & kids were living at home. We would have all killed one another. Apparently my Ex is a hot anxious mess these days….and if my kids were little…forget work, just forget it.

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  14. Utah does rock though 😉😉 wear something professional on the top and just don’t get up, lol! If its working from home dress like you dress at home. Unless people have to see you on a video call. Why dress up when you don’t have to? I haven’t work a lick of makeup or done my hair since quarantine and it feels great! Nice post 💕

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  15. My Hubby is putting in more hours than normal, but he seemed to always do this on the days he has worked from home in the past. Part of that is because he has some incredibly lazy co-workers that milk their time to extremes and only put in about 4 or 6 hours of actual work time on a normal basis and he doesn’t want to be lumped in with them (even if they never get called on it). He doesn’t want to be seen as slacking in any way. This is just his nature because he has an incredible work ethic and high personal standards. He is being even more conscious of it now because he worries (not really a rational worry for him, BTW, for a slew of reasons I have to keep pointing out to him) that he has the potential to lose his job. He wants to make sure he is seen as a valued employee.

    The extra time and hours thing is fine on the occasional basis and is even sometimes required because of the nature of his job and I’m fine with that. Turning this into a full time from now on thing? I’d be putting my foot down because that extra work and time is his choice and not demands from other people. It isn’t healthy for him to operate like this on a long term basis and I can’t see how it would be for anyone. There definitely needs to be boundaries that separate work life from home life and it is possible to create those boundaries even when you work from home.

    The difference between what I see from my Hubby and what you are seeing from yours, at least what I can tell, is that instead of the slacker coworkers of my Hubby’s taking advantage of the lack of physical oversight from people and putting in even less work, your husband’s company is taking advantage of the ease of access to their employees and crossing boundaries with interactions they couldn’t get when they were in the office.

    Working from home should be treated the same as if you were working in an office environment. If you have video meetings, any work dress codes should be followed unless the company or managers have agreed to relax them. Working hours should still be the same. Your availability as an employee doesn’t suddenly become flexible because your are always next to a phone or a computer. The flip side is also true in that you are still obligated to put in your full time even though you are home. No dropping offline for hours at a time so you can go mow your yard or clean the garage. Abuses come from both sides, but neither should be tolerated.

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    1. It’s amazing how now it’s just expected that you’re answering your work whenever and at all times. It’s not even his boss…it’s other colleagues…everything is a fire drill

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  16. I can see some pros and cons from both sides. Personally, I’ve been working from home for 19 years. I work in my kitchen which at times is definitely not the best place to be because of all the background goings on. I am in my pj’s or comfy clothes most of the time, however, I am not on conference calls or interacting visually with anyone. All my work involves typing and by now the family knows – pretty much — that if I have my headphones on I’m working and not to be disturbed. It is a little more difficult now with 3 adults home all the time but we’re managing. When I first started working from home the kids were in school and hubby worked so it was quiet and peaceful here…ah the good old days!

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  17. I think after things open up a bit this work from home thing may last a while longer. All these kids who would normally be in school through the end of the school year and at camps in the summer have to have someone home with them. That”s why I’m glad I’m retired right now. One less thing I have to stress about..:)

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  18. I am with you. now having been retired for 9 years dressing up and socializing is important. My video contacts are a bit different but look like this: Morning – no matter what shower, dress, makeup, and hair.
    Morning – chores or write (writing preferred) Lunch – imaginative and fun (today tuna muffins on tomato slices on a bed of spinach, Afternoon – first video visit with treasured cousin in Edinburgh, (daily), walk (not downtown where street people are getting more aggressive but in residential areas, then a lovely vodka etc or whisky whilst I visit you guys, then video a friend in Brantford, then Winnipeg, and finally at 6 video with JB in New Zealand, Evenings are knitting and watching or listening, watching TV or listening to an audio book from library. A friend asked me the other day if I am bored. I am too simple minded to be bored I said. Actually I am too busy. Oh and fit in there checking on family, friends etc
    Oh dear sorry this is so long

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  19. I spent a good portion of my career as a mercantile agent under contract to firms based in Europe, USA and Canada. I dealt in 8 time zones. There was almost no distinction between domestic home life and professional life in terms of days on/off, time boundaries, etc. Indistinguishable. Some of it I miss: interaction with people from Italy and Spain and throughout North America. Money. The rest just ate me up. After this Pandemic, I believe Globalization will be redefined.

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  20. I did a video meeting in a t-shirt today. It was an American Libraries t-shirt so I felt it was appropriate. I will probably do my online book club for work in the same shirt tonight. My work continues to stress boundaries and self care. I feel pretty comfortable that 5pm means work is over(unless I have a book club like tonight) and that no one will contact me on the weekends. I do hate working from home, though, but mainly because so much of my job is supposed to be working with the public and I can’t do that now.

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  21. Video stuff seems difficult. I am reluctantly trying to figure out if my clients want me to do video tarot readings for them (the answer so far is YES YES YES), and yet my technology is too limited to show cards, my hands, and unflattering facial view, so I may just do it to show hands and cards only and to hear my voice, hence never having to show unflattering facial view. I am by appointment only, so would not have the trouble of people calling at random times hoping to get lucky–

    Speaking of unflattering facial views, the tutorials on ‘how to look good on video or zoom’ which I have seen have all been by young good-enough-looking people and useless for those over age 18 or 38 or so who do not have heavy beards and who do not want to look bad. Anyone got any good ideas on this? Thanks.

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  22. I suppose I’m biased. Eighty percent of my job is performed virtually and online. I’ve learned to set boundaries, both with my family, for myself, and my job. For example, my family knows if the door is closed, they cannot barge in and ask me about home life, because technically, I’m not home. Also, students know that I may not answer the phone or their question on the weekend…it’s the weekend and I may be at Target or something, living my life.

    To answer your other questions, I typically where a nice shirt, something I’d wear if I were face-to-face and sweat pants on the bottom. I don’t eat food during a virtual meeting (but I do in person).

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    1. You are very lucky, cause most of my friends are having adjustment issues. But I’m going to write about this tomorrow. Think of it like this….my husband has no room to go and shut the door…

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  23. I’m a nurse so still going to work. There are a few things I can do from home in my job but generally I prefer to do everything at work. I do better with having structure. I get easily distracted at home….food, TV, my phone, the dog etc.
    My daughter is in her last semester of college. From what she tells me most of her professors haven’t adapted well to this new model of learning. One seems very on the ball though.
    My son is starting college next fall. I hope very much things are back to normal. Still waiting to see if his high school graduation is cancelled. Instead of having an on-campus college orientation, they have changed it to a virtual college orientation and class sign up.
    I don’t like being disturbed in my off hours. Some nursing jobs have the unwritten expectation of being available 24/7……no thanks.

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  24. On dress and food, dress should be smart and food no, you wouldn’t walk into a meeting with you butty in your hand would you? As far as the working hours I have found the same as you, hubby is answering the phone 24/7 and most times it is for things that the person ringing could have sorted. I always think a big part of having a job are the social aspects

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  25. Big BIG mistake to assume working from home will be the key to beating corona, (enforced home detention) isolation fatigue will set soon set, Governments SHOULDN’T be even contemplating it as an option but they will if permitted! Isolation is a fudge, an easy way out to control and solve societies ills, less crime on the streets because everyone’s in prison.

    The new world order should be observe social distancing, wash your hands, never touch your face and wear a mask and if you catch corona then just accept life is survival of the fittest, Darwinism in its purest form, allow Government control over peoples movement and they’ll gleefully accept with open arms!

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    1. ………….. as an aside ( 😀 to answer your original question) my sister-in-law makes her daughters wear their school jersey’s/shirts while doing schoolwork. (Lol I haven’t asked her if it’s working!)

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  26. I learned long ago not to do business calls from home (before the age of everything computer) until I look somewhat presentable. This means brushing teeth, washing face, putting on a little makeup, and wearing clothes that help me feel that I look my best. People can hear the difference even in your voice. I would assume this is even more important with video calls.

    I don’t know about you or your husband, but I wouldn’t eat while taking a video call. It would make me look sloppy.

    I can see how working 24/7 would be more likely to happen at home. I’ve set time perimeters for when I write. For example, I never write from dinner time on. That is time spent with my husband.

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    1. I don’t think the majority of the population has the ability to be self disciplined. Most people really begin to learn self discipline when they go to work, because being in a work environment fosters it. Look at how many parents complain that there kids lack focus or direction? How do you get it?

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      1. Maybe it’s a lack of simple routines and rituals, and also too much busyness without getting a lot done. I was brought up with routines and rituals. Because I rather liked my childhood, I brought my son and daughter up the same way. And I didn’t insist on extra activites for them.

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      2. I am the queen of routine, and my daughter is super structured too. But she said most of the kids she knows lack focus, and she’s at a school where the kids are more focused than most

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  27. Sadly, I do think that one of the long-term effects of this shelter at home order will be increasing number of people who work from home, and more brick and mortar stores disappearing too. We are becoming increasingly isolated physically as we become more connected via technology. It’s not a trend I’m a fan of, but it was forced on us by this pandemic and I think a bit of it is here to stay. (Just wait until someone realizes that if ALL deliveries were made by drones, then the threat of spreading a virus that way is nil. And then all the delivery people lose their jobs.)

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      1. I think people are narrowly focused on no commute and working in pajamas instead of the long term mental health issues that lack of socialization will inevitably lead to. We’re already overly focused on tech. This will just make that worse. People will forget how to communicate. Conversations will be a series of emojis…..if that’s progress, I don’t want any part of it

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  28. Working from home can be even more challenging when kids are home. If I have no children home then zoning off a room that doesn’t appear as a bedroom or anything comfortable can work. But when you have a couch, refrigerator and a bed near somehow there are to many options.

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  29. I didn’t have the option to reply above, but I wanted to say that I agree completely! Convenience is the main consideration, and people are forgetting that human contact and even just “going somewhere” is an important part of our mental and emotional health. I worry about the effects of this pandemic as time goes on…it’s doing damage to people’s psyches, I think…never mind their finances. I just hope when this is finally over that people will want to venture out again, going to work and to stores. Because I honestly think we need that!

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    1. My guess is roaring twenties….and thanks to listen to me whine! I worry that a society based on convenience isn’t a society anymore, but a collection of individuals.

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  30. Agree completely. Working from home should be the exception. Unfortunately, in this day and age, people think you’re “on call” 24/7 even if your job doesn’t warrant it. Even though I’m an introvert and hate the new office setup, I found “going to work” more effective. When I’m at work, I’m working and when I’m home, I’m not. Best for both.

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  31. I’ve worked from home for over 10 years. We did a lot of research into the subject beforehand and prepared well, not just into the technical aspects, but into the personal/social interaction aspect. Also, boundaries are respected with a strict adherence to office hours. So, it can work, but it does take both corporate & personal effort & discipline. Also my colleagues & I are mature (40+) and had worked together for a number of years, so sufficient levels of trust already existed.

    It is not possible for everyone or every industry (Himself for example cannot) but it has the capacity to transform life for those who can make it work – it certainly has for me. But then I wasn’t bothered about the commute (or lack of) nor the dress down potential. I’ve always done something specific with the time spent previously in a commute, and I dress the same work or home. If virtually attending a “formal” meeting, I dress formally, for more “regular” work interactions, I dress smart casual – and I have a rule about not wearing PJs to work which has never been broken.

    Isolation needn’t be a problem either, as you have the ability to socialise – either with work colleagues or friends/family – under normal circumstances, something experienced WFH-ers are organised about doing.

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  32. Yes, people lifting their dogs to the screen to ‘say hello’ during a meeting is starting to wear a bit thin now. 🙄Hopefully people will settle into it and gradually acclimatise to new forms of online etiquette. I do think the working from home evolution will become more of a norm though, especially where office spaces were tight to begin with, and the same level/or higher – of productivity can be seen….it’s all very ‘fourth age’ 🤔Best wishes and keep well. 🔆

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