employers can’t expect business as usual right now

The coronavirus has turned millions of office workers into remote employees overnight. Companies are sending workers home with laptops and a prayer that business will be able to continue as usual, but things can’t be business as usual. Employers will need to adjust their expectations of how much can truly get done in these circumstances.

I wrote a piece for Slate about how companies need to allow maximum flexibility right now. You can read it here.

Also … some readers have said they hope there won’t be a lot of virus-related content here and last week I was thinking it could be fairly limited. (I know many people want a place they can go to escape from it.) But at this point, it’s affecting everything work-related, I’m getting flooded with questions about how it’s changing everything from job searching to resigning, and I’ve got to tackle it. It’s not going to take over the whole site; there will still be plenty of non-virus stuff like coworkers who get sick after stealing your spicy food and colleagues who want you to call their boyfriend “master,” but I want to do what I can to help people navigate this crappy situation. So there will be virus stuff, but it’ll be a mix.

Stay safe and wash your hands! (I mangled mine in a blender last night and ended up in the ER after eight days of perfect social distancing. Watch out for immersion blenders.)

{ 427 comments… read them below }

      1. Panthera uncia*

        Same. We’re not essential, FFS, we manufacture niche industrial products. Nobody’s going hungry, cold, or sick without us. Yet a global e-mail scolded that we ARE essential and it’s “business as usual” in those exact words. We don’t even have shareholders to placate, it’s a private company!

        1. Amber Rose*

          … Do we work in the same company? :/

          We manufacture a pretty niche product for an industry that is tanking and can’t afford us anyway. We’re not quite business as usual, but under instructions to pretend that it is.

          1. Sharkie*

            I think we work for the same company! Only everyone else in our industry is closed including clients

        2. merp*

          Sameeeee. I work at a library and while at least we’re closed to the public, we have to go in to make sure patrons can still call us with questions? I am putting my health and others’ at risk so I can tell someone over the phone how to reach the DPS? Our salaries were budgeted for ages ago, there’s no need for this.

          1. JSPA*

            Are there legal reasons that the calls can’t be forwarded to your personal phone or a shared “voice” account? Or could they go to, ‘high volume / low staffing, leave question on voice mail” and you take turns checking voice mail remotely, doing the research remotely, and calling the caller back via a voice service? Are the caller numbers usually hidden from you, or something??? I do see how “coverage” might be important, but the butts-in-seats aspect is mystifying.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              It truly is, especially since a lot of libraries are moving towards being more digital-friendly and librarians are trained to handle complex information systems – surely they’re bright enough to figure out how to forward phone calls.

              1. Who Sez*

                You would think so, but my experience with librarians is to never assume anything in the tech area, amiable as they might be in the book-lending field.

            2. merp*

              you would really think something like that would be possible! but we’re told so far the answer is no. there’s been no attempt at an explanation, which is so so frustrating.

              1. Duran*

                Worth pushing back on. I’m in outpatient healtcare, and there’s been WIDE discretion to allow for telehealth INCLUDING from personal devices (i.e. Medicare won’t ding providers for using personal devices), in order to facilitate the ability to do so.

                1. Retail not Retail*

                  My psychiatrist on the other side of the county isn’t doing telemedicine and i’m like you are so far away. I have never waited less than an hour to see you. My stupid job giving me insurance to see you is still open to the public.

                  I cancelled my PT appointments though – that has to be one-on-one and I’d say the elderly and recent surgery patients deserve priority over me and my 5 year old injury.

                  Our libraries are closed to the public but still staffed and those that were food distribution points (3 week spring break!) are still open.

                2. Jdc*

                  My Pt called me today to say he’s cancelling all mine since they are only taking basically people who are post op and their recovery would be impacted negatively by them doing going. I figured it was coming. Sadly we just got back on track. I had my first visit then was sick as a dog for weeks, then contagious, so we just got on track again. Poor guy is going to have to do a whole evaluation of me every time he sees me at this rate.

          2. Aggretsuko*

            My friend still works at a college library and as far as I know they are still not closed because it’s finals week. We’re literally on shelter in place right now! They should not be coming to the library to study!

            1. Texan In Exile*

              Our libraries are closed but one of them is doing curbside pickup! You can put in an order or you can just tell them to pick something from certain categories!

              1. TardyTardis*

                I would rather borrow through Libby or Overdrive right now (except that they have the new Hillary Mantel only in hardbound, the rats!).

        3. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

          ugh THIS!
          I’m being told to call and schedule people to COME IN to see our dietitians for casual consults and it’s…nothing that can’t wait. to get people to go out and come in to our workplace, exposing themselves, exposing others is extremely irresponsible.
          meanwhile all of my other coworkers (and bosses) are able to WFH but i can’t/am not allowed to so i’m just stuck here. i’m one of maybe four staff here (out of regularly 45-50)

          1. oh you*

            Yikes. I’ve seen a few businesses in my area acting like nothing’s changed and it always makes me cringe. I can’t imagine how stressful it is to work for one.

          2. Ann Nonymous*

            Time to call your local health department and/or city government and tattle on your company (anonymously).

            1. Beth Jacobs*

              The company is being irresponsible and may very well kill someone, but unless its breaking a specific shelter in place order, the health department wont be able to do anything.

      2. Quill*

        I’m so thankful to not be in lab right now. If I were a lab tech I’d be out of office and unpaid. Since I’m not I can wrangle documents from my personal pillow nest and run 10 minutes of yoga whenever I find myself spinning my wheels.

    1. ASW*

      Same here. Right now, you can only work from home if you’ve been on an airplane in the past week, have childcare issues, or are showing symptoms. All but one person in my department has the ability to work from home. I broached the subject of what the expectation would be if we worked from home. Primarily, knowing that our VPN makes our software slow and efficiency will be impacted, would we be expected to get the amount of work done as we would at the office? The answer was an immediate “yes, of course.” I’m sorry, but the board of directors will survive if they don’t get their financial report on time. Journal entries can be posted late. If someone in my small department gets sick, there is a high probability that several of us will get sick. Our CEO is worried about letting a few things slide? Wait until vendors don’t get paid or customer payments don’t get deposited because half the department is too sick to work.

      1. Jae*

        People like this CEO are what are going to make a lot of “shelter in place” restrictions necessary. They simply cannot be trusted to take common sense measures for long-term success. It is all about what can we do today to make another cent, and tomorrow… who cares!

        1. ASW*

          Unfortunately, a “shelter in place” restriction probably wouldn’t even make a difference in my case. The state considers us an essential service and we cannot shut down. My employee ID can be used to get past roadblocks during a disaster like a hurricane. We could probably be required to come to work even if literally everything else is shut down.

        2. Anon Again*

          Im torn, I believe shutting down to be the right thing but also, my company has said they won’t pay us. They have said we can use PTO but problem #1 is no one has any (use it or lose it policy) and #2 while we can go negative we may have to go into PTO for NEXT YEAR to cover the time.

          Yeah…. no one in a company of 500+ would be able to take any time off for a full 12 months minimum (and that doesn’t get you PTO, that just gets out back to zero).

          No, there is no work from home allowed, not even for the guy who had a transplant last year (and yes, the ability is there just not the corporate will).

          Or we can take the shut down time unpaid. I’m one of the highest paid people here (which says more about the company pay structure than any skill of mine, people have been here 10 years and have never once gotten a raise) and I literally can’t make rent if I don’t get paid. So yeah, I show up even though I know shouldn’t because what option do I have? I spent my savings moving for this job a few months ago and my investments have crashed…..

          I suspect a year of high levels of burnout and stressed out people in the future…..

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            No, there is no work from home allowed, not even for the guy who had a transplant last year

            Oh dear god – and I thought my mom’s employer was awful for making her come to work knowing she has diabetes.

            1. Atlantian*

              We have one with cancer who is actively taking chemotherapy drugs that is still being required to come to work. He could get a doctor’s note and an unpaid leave of absence, but then he would have to pay for his health insurance. We’re all livid.

              1. merp*

                oh my GOD. there really is no limit to how awful people can be. wow, I hope your coworker stays safe and I hope all the decision makers responsible come to their senses.

                1. Dancing Otter*

                  What will happen if one of them gets sick? Is that what it will take to convince them? Or will it still be everybody else has to take their chances?
                  Congress screwed up, exempting all businesses over 500 employees.

          2. Ashley*

            Has your state stepped in about shutting down non essential businesses? The term is amazingly broad but that is way to many people not trying to wfh.

  1. Karen*

    Thank you. It will be nice to have a voice of reason in this chaos. And so sorry about your finger…

    1. Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

      So…I guess Alison won’t be posting rave reviews about that blender after all ? Seriously, I’m sorry that happened to you, what a rotten time to need the ER.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Seriously! My boss’ parents are in Florida and he was telling us that one of their friends was stuck in the ER waiting room for DAYS waiting to be seen after a very significant injury that normally would bump you to the top of the list during triage. They are in the high risk age group too so just being there was risky to their health.

      2. Alli525*

        Well, there aren’t really any immersion blenders (that I’m aware of) that are SAFER for your hands than any other immersion blender. They’re like food processors – they all have exposed sharp blades, that’s the point. It wouldn’t be fair to review a blender negatively for that.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            I am finding that nothing is normal, and that applies to our own reason. I’m REALLY sorry about your finger and this could happen to anyone, so don’t beat yourself up too much. The blender already did enough of that.

            1. tangerineRose*

              On the list of nothing is normal, today I lost my keys twice! I’m careful with my keys, but… I did finally find them.

          2. MissM*

            ED docs say they see many a patient come in with injuries related to them, since the blades are right there. Hope you heal up quickly and are back to puréeing soon!

          3. Nobody Here by That Name*

            Somewhere the blender is writing a review “She clearly did not read the instructions. As a blender owner, would not recommend. Zero stars.”

              1. Deejay*

                They can’t be bargained with. They can’t be reasoned with. They don’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And they absolutely will not stop, ever, until they’ve sliced all your fingers.

          4. Mami21*

            I’ve done the same thing – mangled my finger while cleaning the immersion blender! I screamed, the baby screamed, we all screamed, then I got stitches.

            However I forgave the blender because it’s awesome and I like it better than that finger.

          5. Jdc*

            Hey it happens. I can find a way to cut myself on anything. I have the stitches to prove it.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I hope the hand gets better quickly!!
      What did your boss say about the impact on your job? Lol!

      I appreciate the goal of balance between all coronavirus all the time and ignoring it (which feels wrong too).

  2. Seifer*

    Well, I’m never getting one of those now. Hope you get better quickly, and sorry about your perfect social distancing!

  3. MI Dawn*

    Ouch, Alison! Heal quickly and take care of yourself!

    My employer has pretty much everyone working from home, unless they have jobs that *can’t* be done from home (i.e., laptop deployment).

  4. Work From Home Newb*

    Thank you!

    I had a moment yesterday where I was so frustrated with myself because I couldn’t focus and be productive. My colleague told me (through Vchat) that it was okay to not be able to work as normal. Nothing is normal right now and it’s important to accept that and figure out how to work rather than continuing to push against an immovable barrier.

  5. Mattieflap*

    My job has been fully remote for years. So my employer does not care one tiny single bit that everyone is distracted and I’ve got kids home that are doing distance learning (so I have to play part time teacher). I should be working well above expected productivity levels because I’ve always worked well above expected productivity levels.

    I work in health care. They should know better.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Ouch! This is the one time where if you normally do work from home 100%, you’re probably expected for things to continue on as normal. Whereas, companies that don’t allow much WFH might be more likely to expect some disruptions.

    2. Quill*

      I have a nightly slot open for my middle and high school aged cousins if they need math tutoring. (How I became an algebra 2 tutor I will never know, but adult, anxiety medicated me can actually do the equations. Teenage me could do them after much suffering.)

      I am wondering, should this go on for more than 2 weeks, if I should flex some time to donate an hour to online tutoring. I’m good for middle grade and slightly higher maths, and if I knew any local members of a crafting club I’d be willing to mediate an online stitch’n bitch.

      1. Mattieflap*

        This is awesome! I’m lucky that both of my kids are math whizzes because I am NOT. My high schooler is pretty good about being self directed. My 5th grader needs more prompting.

        1. Quill*

          Fifth grade can be hard because they’re still in a period where there’s a lot of memorization and not a lot of “why” to answer. (And half the class isn’t ready for the theory anyway.)

          I skipped out on math after statistics (long story involving a deep and abiding hatred of proofs, specific teachers, and the concept that if I didn’t automatically ‘get’ math like I did other subjects I must not be any good at it,) but I later discovered, partially due to science courses and some tutoring, that I was pretty good at math – I was just terrible at REMEMBERING single, contextless formulas that we never revisited! For the longest time I set up every equation that I ever did in stoichiometry because it was the only way I could understand how to construct a formula. Now I’m half decent at programming and very good at making Excel do math for me due to all that experience, but if you ask me to find the area under an irregular shape… be prepared for kludging of the highest order because I don’t. Do. Calculus.

          (Fun fact: my brother and I were trying to help another cousin with his physics homework once, I bowed out when it hit calculus and made cousin crosscheck his answer using basic geometry. We fixed the problem by realizing that you couldn’t have a NEGATIVE planetary orbit.)

          1. Chemistry nerd*

            I thought I was the only one who solved random things using stoichiometry! It saved my life in college for things that had very little to do with chemistry.

      2. Meepmeep*

        I’m actually tempted to restart my math tutoring business as an online tutoring thing for all the kids who are now involuntarily homeschooling. I did tutoring as my full time job for years and loved it. Maybe it’s time to do some again.

  6. ACollins*

    I’m so infuriated with my company’s response. We are largely unionized, and it’s come from above that all non-union people need to report to the office. For the most part that’s administrators and directors, but there are a few of us low-level folks mixed up in that. If the majority of people aren’t going to be in the office, why does anyone? It’s making me judge TPTB so hard.

  7. Elizabeth West*

    Alison, no! *your hand* :'(

    Meanwhile, I have been sitting here, available for work, experienced at working remotely, but no one would hire me. And now no one is going to be hiring at all. I’m completely screwed.


    1. HappySnoopy*

      Oh no! Maybe there will be some that you can at least have phone/video interview if not on boarding. Good luck!

      *virtual virus free hug*

    2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Amen to this, applying for jobs is all I can do right now. Ready and waiting!

    3. FungirlAndFunguy*

      I live in the California Bay Area (AKA shelter-in-place). My roommate is a recruiter for a tech company, and I know he was sending out at least two offers this week. So at least some places are still hiring!

    4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Hmm, I would think that you could use your experience with being remote to your advantage. There might be places looking that wouldn’t normally do remote and have no idea how to do it, but if you know how to deal with it that might be a point in your favor.

    5. WannaAlp*

      Places dealing with COVID-19 are still hiring, and may need even more employees to cope: try looking for tech companies dealing with medical data?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        They require either tech experience I don’t have, or else you have to have at least X number of years working with medical data. They aren’t willing to train you or hire you without it. I’ve gotten nowhere even if I check many of the other boxes. They don’t seem to care about transferable skills. It has to be specific. I can’t even get a job answering the goddamn phone in healthcare without a year of experience specifically in healthcare.

        This business of applying for a job if you tick 60% of the boxes and getting hired doesn’t seem to apply to me.

  8. TiaTeapot*

    That’s why I went out of my way to get an immersion blender with removable/interchangeable parts which go in the dishwasher.

  9. juliebulie*

    Up till last week, working from home seemed like a treat. Now that I have to do it, it suuuuucks. The day goes by so slowly.

    1. LunaLena*

      I feel like this too! It’s only day 3 of Mandatory WFH for me, and I was starting to go crazy yesterday. It doesn’t help that I do marketing at a university, and now that all of the events have been canceled and all of the students are being sent home, the only things I have to do are a small backlog of “not urgent, we’ll get to it some time” projects.

      I hope Allison’s hand gets better, and everyone, regardless of whether you’re working from home or still going in to work, stays safe and healthy!

    2. Mediamaven*

      Yeah I’m an introvert and I don’t even like working from home. It’s hard to get in the right frame of mind. Easy to get distracted. Lonely. Feels like you are bolted to your house. I’m hoping my team realizes it’s not all it’s cracked up to be and are excited when we come back!

      1. Amy Sly*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t mind working from home so much if I could go out and do something after the work gets done.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I think this is the big issue. My grandboss is fully remote normally, as am I, and we both love it, but he’s losing his mind ever since his city was locked down. Honestly, I’m starting to feel a little weird too because I haven’t been outside in weeks (and my city’s not locked down – I’m just terrified to catch the coronavirus, so I’m voluntarily sheltering in place).

          1. tangerineRose*

            As a telecommuter myself, I think part of the problem is feeling like I can’t (or shouldn’t) leave the house except for food (and for trips to the mail box or working on the yard).

      2. Kumajiro*

        I was actually happy when my current job told me that people at my level were absolutely not allowed to work from home. I don’t do good remotely. Going in makes me accountable. There’s a reason I never took any online classes in school, I would have failed them all. Now, here I am, working in my kitchen with a dog on my lap, desperately trying to maintain some level of productivity

        1. TechWorker*

          Obviously depends on whether your companies video set up is already overstretched (lol, everyone?) but our company has suggested joining a video conference just to sit and work. The main aim is so that those who currently rely quite a lot on support from team members have an easy way to ask questions – and wouldn’t want to do it for a whole day or anything, but we tried it for a couple of hours today and even though we barely talked it definitely helped me focus :)

          1. Sunflower Sea Star*

            Oh goodness. Maybe crap like that is why video conferencing services are having such a hard time.
            Don’t use it unless needed.

          2. Kes*

            yeah I don’t know if I’d love that. For us we are chatting a lot more on slack and some of my coworkers also opened a discord for people who want to have voice chatting, plus we have our normal standups and other meetings on webex (so far with or without video as people choose)

          3. lassly*

            I found that sort of thing super helpful back in college. It’s like studying together at the library – you don’t even have to be studying the same subject but just the feeling is so much better.

        2. Elenna*

          Ugh, yeah, I definitely spend significantly more time not doing work when working from home. It would probably help if I worked on my work laptop instead of remoting in from my personal laptop, but the prospect of having music/streams to listen to is too tempting. (And having music in the background does actually help my productivity, I think.) I try to make up for it by working a bit longer as I’m no longer commuting 3 hours a day…

        3. Tau*

          Oh man, I hear you. I don’t do well remotely either, and don’t choose remote jobs for that reason. And now this. I’m hopeful that my boss will be fairly understanding if I’m not functioning at 100% due to the exceptional nature of the situation.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I don’t mind the WFH, but lack of other outlets for interactions are making me a bit stir-crazy.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Amen to that, SO MUCH. Usually I take the dog to our building’s lobby and sit in front of the fireplace with my laptop. Not allowed to do that. The building’s gym is closed. Coffee shops have removed their tables. I am thankful that I live in a downtown area with plenty to look at when I walk the dog and I can still walk to a restaurant for curbside pick-up. Add to that the cancellation of my regular weekly activity for the foreseeable future… It could be worse. But it’s not relaxing or fun.

      2. TechWorker*

        Video-everything is popping up where I am. I’m going to join a bunch of online dance classes, did a lunchtime workout with colleagues today and have a few ‘pub’ trips (zoom calls) set up with friends.

    4. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I like it, but dealing with my parents who refuse to accept they’re old enough to be at risk is something I never thought I had to go through. My father is extra aggressive and loud, and my neighbor downstairs has a bunch of contractors remodelling their flat, and the 2 y.o. next door is constantly throwing tantrums so I’m in mute in every call I can. I wish I could earn enough to live on my own.

      1. Quill*

        I have to go in 2x / week, so this is actually day 1 of social isolation, and I’m already a little batty.

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        Ugh, my mom is convinced this whole thing is “overblown,” and she is in the exact age and health category of being at risk of death from it! She ticks multiple risk boxes. I don’t know whose stupid opinion she’s been listening to, but I hope her state government forces her office to switch to remote work.

        1. a good mouse*

          My parents said since they can’t fly out and help take care of my nephew or do anything specific for us, they see their job as staying healthy and minimizing risk so we don’t have to worry about them. I appreciate that more than I can say.

    5. Pennalynn Lott*

      In my ideal world, I would work from home 1-2 days a week. I get a lot more done at home than in the office. But I could not work from home, 5 days a week, indefinitely. It’s a tad too isolating.

      At least, thank goodness, I have a massive back yard so I can still get fresh air and walk around outdoors. And I can talk to my next-door neighbors (on both sides) from a reasonable distance, so I get some face-to-face conversations in.

    6. Rebecca*

      I sort of like not having to drive to the office. And I can listen to TV shows in the afternoon, I have a cat for company, and I still get dressed (with shoes too). I wouldn’t mind doing this a few days a week after this crisis passes.

  10. RascalE*

    My husband’s workplace hasn’t even addressed it at all. Everyone is just coming to work. No one has even mentioned the global pandemic. And none of them will even broach the topic with their boss.

    I’ve been dealing with chronic illness stuff for years and now it’s just me at home every day. Every day. It’s causing a lot of stress for him.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      My husband’s company is in denial too. It’s super bizarre. He’s social distancing himself as best he can, including staying at his desk and conferencing into meetings that are being held in the conference room down the hall.

    2. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

      My husband’s work is the same way, except for implementing restrictions they’ve received from on high. For instance, he’s in a staff meeting right now, around a conference table with nine other people, one of whom has a spouse who was tested yesterday.

    3. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I asked my former colleagues at Old Job, and they told me they will be allowed WFH if the Government enforces a lockdown. They have to go as long as there’s local transportation.

      1. Works in IT*

        That doesn’t make sense. Even in a lockdown, transportation will be available so that people who don’t have their own cars can get to the grocery store!

      2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        I know it doesn’t, but it’s the only valid circumstances for them. I hoped the current situation made them reconsider, but it seems they’re still tone-deaf.

    4. anonybear*

      My company’s response has me totally thrown. They’ve told people to practice social distancing. They’ve given their blessing to wfh.

      And yet the C-suite folks are continuing to go into the office. Whyyyyy????

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        That’s my company, too. But not just the C-suite; most of the managers are still going in. It’s so bizarre. There isn’t anyone there to manage in person, so why aren’t they isolating themselves? It’s irresponsible.

    5. Cimorene*

      My husband’s work has a lot of roles, including his, that can’t be done remotely. For those folks they are basically just expected to be business as usual. When he asked what the plan was since we now have no childcare for our toddler they said PTO or unpaid leave. Ummm… we can’t afford to lose his income and he barely has PTO (for a variety of company based reasons).

    6. RascalE*

      Update: after refusing to change anything in the office or even acknowledge the pandemic, this week they literally sent everyone home to work. It’s bizarre how they communicated nothing about this until the day everyone was told not to come in.

      Possibly this is because they were just working on this plan and didn’t/wouldn’t communicate about it (even when asked by worried employees) or possibly it’s because 1/3 of the employees just said they weren’t coming in for a while.

      I’m happy about the result anyway!

  11. Mama Bear*


    I do agree that folks need to be mindful that this is unprecedented. People aren’t just home to work – they are taking care of relatives who can’t go out, children who can’t go to school, etc. Normal telework requirements are out the door. You’re going to hear a kid in the background, or your coworker may be unavailable while trying to get medicine delivered to their parents who are on lockdown in assisted living, or your employee may have a secondary condition and need to quarantine at home. That we get anything done at all some days is a miracle.

    1. TiredMama*

      Yep! I sent my bosses an email on Monday explaining that our nanny is committed to coming for the foreseeable future but that the kids can’t go anywhere except for walks so they will hear them in the background even with me in an office behind closed doors. This is the reality now.

      1. a good mouse*

        My sister is in SF so her nanny hasn’t been able to come for over a week, and can’t come for the forseeable future. It’s hard to get work done with a 2 year old (although he’s better than most at self entertaining).

    2. hermit crab*

      The organization I work for has been amazing – everyone on mandatory WFH as of this week, reimbursements for things like external monitors, extra paid leave, lots of support. I don’t have kids. My job can be done 100% remotely. My housing and food and finances are all secure. I’m one of those people who should be obnoxiously productive right now since I have no “distractions.”

      AND I AM STILL GETTING ALMOST NOTHING DONE. I’m worried about my parents. I’m worried about my 94-year-old grandma, who is on lockdown recovering from a hip & wrist fracture and physically cannot wash her hands because of the cast on her wrist. I’m worried about my community and my elderly friends and my coworkers at my side gig who rely on that income, and feeling like I can’t do enough to help. I’m spending a lot of time checking in with neighbors and family members, and reading the news, and refreshing twitter even though I know that’s a bad idea.

      And honestly, maybe that is ok right now? On the one hand, I should be picking up the slack for people who have actual reasons why they can’t get work done. But on the other hand, maybe I can help normalize this as a time for lower expectations…?

      1. Just J.*

        Me too. I work remotely. But the news is more fascinating than work. I also worry about my elderly parents and the small businesses around me that have closed because of a state mandate. A lot of my friends and associates own, work, run those small businesses. I am worried how they will fare.

        I too am one of those normalizing that this may be a time for lowered expectations.

      2. nona*

        +1 – I’m there with you – I don’t have anything that should be a distraction. I should be getting to all those things that keep getting deprioritized, but its hard to focus, hard to be motivated. I mostly just want to clean (neaten and get around to disinfecting) to control the low-level anxiety that permeates everything right now.

      3. Anonymous Commenter 246*

        Thank you! I know I’m lucky in that my company is telling everyone to WFH and has a decent infrastructure to support it. I also don’t have kids and am not feeling trapped inside or anything like that. But I am worried and distracted and I can’t freaking concentrate and no one at my company is talking about that part of it. I’ve brought it up a few times and felt totally unsupported. I know I tend to be anxious, but this is a massive, ongoing event that’s killing many thousands of people! OK, I’m going to breathe now.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          If it makes you feel any better, I’m right there with you.

          And on top of worrying about all of the people who have and who will die from this virus, I’m also sitting here worried to death about my soon-to-be born niece (my sister-in-law went into labor yesterday afternoon, and the baby’s still not here yet), worried about my brother and his mental state (he was already stressed out with a 5 year old and then his job in corrections extended his hours), worried about losing my job (apparently, no raises or pending pay increases due to recent promotions will be forthcoming for the time being, though they swear we’re financially sound) – I just can’t think through any of this rationally right now. My focus is shot.

        2. Tau*

          I know, right? Everyone is all “business as usual” and “hopefully we’ll be back to work in a few weeks” and I’m just… look, I have seen the epidemiological models. We will not be back at work in a few weeks. Also, I’m not sure what the point of our big app launch will be if nobody can use it, maybe it would make sense to replan a little? But I guess I’m just overreacting, huh. :/

      4. Goliath Corp.*

        Same here. I’m spending much of my days cuddling with my dog to ease the anxiety, even though I’m very privileged compared to a lot of people right now.

      5. Em*

        This! I was already a remote employee. I work from home, which right now is completely empty — I’m the only person in the dwelling at all.

        But my parents are in Spain, and I fret, and my sister has two weeks of work left and then might be laid off, and I fret, and… and…

        I’m getting work DONE, but not nearly as much as I usually do.

    3. Guacamole Bob*

      This times a million.

      Our household is one of many with two parents trying to telework full time while we have kids who are home from school and can’t do playdates – early elementary kids, so they just can’t be totally independent for a full 8 hours a day. We’re doing the best we can to stagger schedules and block out breaks and whatnot, but it’s still not as smooth as a regular WFH arrangement. There’s a reason that many companies require proof of child care if there are kids under middle school age at home in order to authorize WFH.

      I’m doing better than my colleagues with toddlers, at least, and my agency is being pretty helpful. My department director has mentioned a couple of times that he feels like he’s running a daycare (and his kids are older than mine!).

    4. violet04*

      I’m thankful that my management sent out an email stating that our and our families’ health is the top priority. They also said to be understanding of people on conference calls who have kids at home, etc. We’ve been provided lots of resources for working from home, VPN issues and how to access some work functions without having to be on the VPN.

    5. Jdc*

      Ya my mom works for an amazon owned company and was told she can work from home. The kicker being it’s a brand new build and internet isn’t even available yet, which is nuts, she’s one of the first in the development. So she can’t. She said she was on the phone with a customer today and said “ma’am i have to put you on hold we are having an earthquake (5.7 in salt lake) and the customer screamed at her for making her wait. I mean, let the woman get under her desk.

  12. TooTiredToThink*

    I normally telework a couple of days a week, so I’m one of those that’s like that meme about my regular life being like quarantine. But yesterday was awful because a LARGE number of people who don’t normally telework started teleworking and it brought systems down. Thankfully I could adjust but it meant things taking 2-3 times longer than it should.

    1. Just J.*

      This. And me too.

      The VPN is a few seconds slower on everything……IT is migrating stuff to the cloud, which takes time……

      Sigh. Hopefully it all normalizes to the ‘new normal’ soon.

    2. Jdc*

      This is husband right now. Tomorrow they are closing the entire base as a “test” and based on him being grumpy today about his connection I dread tomorrow. I think I’ll hide out with a book while he curses his computer.

      He works from home but goes in 3 day’s a week. Tomorrow every single person will be home. Oddly stepson is handling it far better than husband. Suddenly a teenager who never wants to leave his room is paying off. Haha

  13. 404UsernameNotFound*

    Ouchies, hope your hand heals quickly Alison!
    I was *supposed* to be working from home for 2 weeks on the 30th… good thing I got my VPN set up Monday, because from today everyone’s at home unless they can’t or aren’t allowed. I should have guessed when it was a ghost town on London Bridge.

  14. Nora*

    Meanwhile I have an in person interview on Friday that is switched to a zoom meeting. I have no idea how to manage giving notice in a time like this, if it comes to that.

    1. Brett*

      For the remote workers I’ve had on my larger team…
      Send notification through to your main supervisor first (so their contract company if they are a contractor, their direct supervisor if they are a direct employee). Use what you can, phone, email, something else, ideally phone.

      Then they can notify who needs to be notified, and come up with your offboarding plan. You will be knowledge transfer by remote meeting, and probably have to write up more documentation than usual. On some appointed day, you will be expected to mail back your laptop, badge (if you have one), and any other equipment (the company _should_ pay for this). And that will pretty much be it.

      Onboarding at the new job will be the more difficult piece.

      1. Nora*

        Yes to all of this. I am WFH for the first time and brought home my actual desktop and monitors on Monday.

        Will make shipping things back more $$ but essentially the same. Everything just feels very uncertain and I am surprised the hire is still moving forward.

        Who even knows. My city is under a state of emergency for the time being…

    2. Amy Sly*

      I got an offer letter before all this started and only have five days left to work, but we’re on mandatory work from home. I worked out with my boss that on my last day, I’ll go to the office to drop off my computer and paper files. (There’ll still be a couple people there to deal with stuff that can’t be done online.)

      You may be able to arrange something similar if you get an offer.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Phone call to your boss. I hope you get the opportunity to put a plan into action– good luck!

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      That’s what I’ve been thinking about too. I packed up everything important at my desk before we made the work-from-home switch in case I just… never go back…

  15. Amber Rose*

    I’m required to come to work though many have moved to home, and the silence is seriously wearing on my psyche. We’ve lost contracts, had orders cancelled, nobody is calling or emailing because everyone else is gone, and for what work we have we can’t get it across the border.

    I feel sick to my stomach from anxiety every time I come into the office now.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I am now the only one in my office (which was small to begin with). I am one of the few people even in the medium-sized office building. Normally I see people in the hallways, bathroom, lobby, and so forth. I don’t think I have seen another person today.

      This is where my introversion really pays off. I am totally fine with this. I have my music playing a bit louder than normal, and am enjoying the solitude.

      1. Amber Rose*

        The silence itself doesn’t bother me, it’s the implications of it. This place is always noisy. The last time it was this silent, we laid off 25% of the staff. I’m scared for the future and this huge, empty warehouse is ramping my anxiety really badly. My stomach hurts like hell.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Remember – you have coping methods and techniques to help the anxiety. Use them! Pull out everything. You can’t change the situation. You can (try to) change your response. I know it won’t be perfect, but it will help you feel better.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          Yeah, it helps that I have no concerns about the long-term job situation. It isn’t going anywhere. There are all the big-picture worries, but not about my situation personally.

        3. Mazzy*

          Me too. I’m scared as well, I think I had a panic attack today? Or at least really bad stress causing my heart rate to spike. My daily routine is now 1) reading news, panicking, not knowing who is an expert or not, seeing pundits spout potential #s and timelines that seem very long or large and panicking, trying to calm down, 2) look at the stock market crashing and in particular some real estate stocks I had that are trading for pennies on the dollar, feeling stupid I bought them, then getting mad that they’re so low now, 3) trying to focus on work and feeling like everything is a distraction. 4) Going outside and seeing people with scarves over their faces and feeling panicky again and feel my blood pressure going up. Alternate paranoia with being a busy body and wanting to tell everyone that their scarf or Home Depot mask isn’t doing much, and they are already social distancing.

          Not getting much work done. Getting mad that someone is following up on something not important again. Feeling general anxiety.

          I might feel better reading this thread and just feeling like this is a normal conversation. Not having many normal conversations these days.

          1. Jean*

            I’m with you on the anxiety. Hang in there.

            I’ve limited myself to a strict “news diet” – local affiliate site only, once per day, no TV news at all, no Facebook, Instagram twice a day only (morning and night). It’s helping.

            I’ve been working from the office so far, but starting WFH tomorrow. I already know I’m going to hate it, but it’s necessary to slow the spread. Be kind to yourself. We’ll get through this.

          2. Daisy-dog*

            Do you have an EAP? My health insurance provider (UHC) is offering a free emotional support hotline for COVID-19 fears as well. If all else fails, you can sign up for Better Help.

          3. DerJungerLudendorff*

            I would also recommend you limit your news intake. It helps me a lot with managing my anxiety. If the news can’t give your reliable, accurate information, then it’s pretty worthless anyway. I mostly stick to a few reputable sources like the WHO, and otherwise just assume it’s going to take a while.

            Same goes with the stock market btw: You can’t do anything about it, so checking constantly is just needlessly tormenting yourself. Maybe you can decide if you want to sell your stocks while you can or wait to see what happens after the crisis? And then just ignore them except for the occasional check?

            And as others have said, use whatever coping mechanisms you have. Forgive yourself for not being as productive (because obviously you wouldn’t be). If you need social contact, call or text people.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        Solidarity on the introversion.

        This is my introvert dream. I feel so bad for the extroverts who are basically opposite of this though. Trust us extroverts, we know what it feels like to be forced into social situations contrary to one’s nature.

        I had to go to the store today (had to) so I went early to hopefully encounter less people. Trader Joes was making people line up, allowing in 10 at a time because social distancing, pretty empty shelves. It’s like shopping in Soviet Russia.

        I really liked that everyone was giving everyone a very wide berth physically though.

    2. Mockingjay*

      I deleted the news app off my devices and disabled social media notifications. I’ve stopped watching most news on TV. I have a couple of reputable news orgs and government services (health dept, etc.) bookmarked on web browsers, which I check once a day. I am limiting social media check-ins and scrolling past or hiding alarmist and joking posts.

      Lessening the media bombardment has calmed me immensely.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I can’t do that since, for the time being, monitoring the news is a huge part of my job.

        1. Daisy-dog*

          Can you at least move it off your home screen?

          I would also recommend fully immersing yourself in something completely unrelated to current events when you’re not working. Maybe pick your favorite book series from childhood and re-read it. Or see if there’s a podcast about it. I’m obsessed with the Baby Sitters Club Club podcast. My husband listened to one about Animorphs.

      2. JKO*

        This. I can’t stress enough how much more relaxed I’ve felt since severely limiting news coverage (reading enough a few times a day to stay up to date, but not watching news on TV at all) and eliminating social media for the time being. I feel like a totally different person and I’d recommend this as an option for anyone who’s feeling anxious or stressed at the moment.

    3. Quill*

      I coordinate with latin america and some of the countries are considering quarantine until JUNE.

      It’s chaos and I legit don’t know if I’m doing well because medication or if I’m storing the anxiety up for a breakdown later. Hope it’s the former.

  16. Pipe Organ Guy*

    I guess I’m relatively lucky; I have my own office in the basement of the church and can keep the door closed. On the other hand, we just aren’t set up for some of us to work from home. Besides, I need to spend time at the church practicing. There’s a whole lot I can do at home, but two keyboards and pedal at home do not relate spatially in quite the same way that three keyboards and pedal do at the church.

    We’re moving this Sunday to a skeleton crew, with no congregation physically present, streaming the services instead. There will be something like four people in the actual altar party, a quartet of singers, and me (the organist). No one knows how it will all play out. We’re pretty sure that most of our Holy Week services will be off the table, because they really need the congregation physically present. Easter Sunday will be especially odd, with a skeleton crew trying to be festive instead of hundreds of people in the church giving and receiving energy from each other.

    1. Mama Bear*

      We went remote with Zoom. Our pastors stayed in their homes and the only additional person was a tech guy helping the lead pastor with Zoom. We sadly didn’t sing, but it worked well overall. I agree that the next few weeks are going to be weird. My kid was supposed to be part of the Easter Sunday service, but with no practice time…

    2. KayDeeAye*

      Officially, we’re cancelled only through Palm Sunday, but I expect that will change. Ugh. We’re still considering remote-worshipping possibilities.

    3. Hedgehug*

      But don’t your quartet of singers have to stand near each other? Our Masses are cancelled for the next few weeks, at least, and before that call was made I read about how singing and choirs shouldn’t even happen because of projection of breath and voice which can cause germs to spread, and the logistics of group singing having to stand close to each other, not being able to abide by the social distance recommendation of 1-2 metres.

      1. Tau*

        My choir ran headfirst into this and is going to be attempting a Zoom rehearsal. I don’t expect it to work very well.

      2. J*

        I know the National Cathedral had four singers last Sunday, all spaced well apart from each other.

    4. Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

      As a former, long time church admin assistant, I think this may well kill off a lot of small churches. People don’t tend to tithe when they miss services, or make it up later. Some do but in my experience, most don’t.

      1. J*

        I worry about this– I’m a member of two small congregations (I am new to my current city and could never bear the thought of leaving my old church and still tithe there) and fret about how both will keep the lights on. I know that at least in my old church many, many of us have recurring auto-giving so hopefully that will just keep chugging along. But it’s scary times.

      2. Dancing Otter*

        Yes, and even conscientious tithe-ers may have greatly reduced income. Ten percent of unpaid leave is zero. Maybe even negative, if they have to pay insurance out of pocket, so have negative income for the length of the quarantine.

        My contributions are paid electronically every month, so missing a service won’t change that. But all my investments tanking may mean re-evaluating the amount, even so.

  17. Emma*

    I am in the Bay Area, so under orders to shelter in place, and my company went from no WAH option to sending everyone home in less than a week.

    My husband works for one of the big banks in a back office role, and was fulltime WAH for 7 years until someone decided that everyone needed to work in the office this past December. With the shelter in place order, his team asked if they could go back to WAH and have been flatly denied, for no real reason. The bank is using the “Essential Service” exemption to insist that employees who do not work in branches and who they know can WAH risk their own and their families’ health for no reason. They care more about some executive’s paranoia about WAH than their employees’ wellbeing.

    My husband tried to appeal this with his managers and HR, got nowhere, and has given his 2 weeks’ notice. Which he will work out from home.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      He did right thing. Good luck to you and thanks to him for making that stand … it’s all helping.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          It’s great he can take that stand – maybe his stupid (soon-to-be-former) employer will take note and reconsider. They’ll lose more people after this is over because employees who are treated badly have long memories, and this bank has proved they give zero effs about anything or anyone, only their bottom line.

    2. RUKiddingMe*

      ^5 to your husband!

      That’s the kind of integrity, character, tenacity, and dedication that starts revolutions.

      Especially when one has much to lose, or super high rent because…BA… to think about.

      1. Emma*

        We are very lucky in that I have a great, stable job and make enough to cover our expenses. This has not always been the case so I know well that people are having to make terrible choices to keep going. Hoping that the shock of his pushing back makes the bank think twice about what they are doing.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          Your husband is awesome! I can’t believe the bank would pull that crap here in the Bay Area where we are under a mandatory shelter-in-place order.

          1. Emma*

            That was how I felt too! Especially since there was such an easy option.
            As a manager myself, the fact that his direct bosses wouldn’t speak up for their people is just offensive. It is our job to advocate for our teams, and they just had no guts.

            1. JobIdea*

              Tell you husband to apply at some of the big tech firms! They are still hiring, handling it all remote and there are serious finance requirements for anyone that deals with eCommerce.

    3. Sophia*

      I’m in the Bay Area as well and can’t believe this given the precautions everyone is taking! What bank if you don’t mind me asking? This should be reported to news outlets. I’m sure they would love to hear this. My mind is blown.

    4. Claire*

      It’s crazy how one senior leader/executive can unilaterally decide nobody is allowed to work from home, just because they prefer the optics of people being in the office.

    5. HighPowerWorker*

      I work in the Bay Area and my employer has been amazing. We have a huge customer base to support and a reputation for working employees hard and long. Management have already set expectations that they know deadlines will shift and to make sure we keep our direct managers in the loop.

  18. Alex*

    My employer, which is 100% capable of working remotely, is only allowing us to work from home 50%, requiring us to come into the office every other day. I can’t even describe how anxious this is making me, and I just got confirmation from our office manager that while I’m allowed to use sick time while I have what is probably just a cold or allergies, “policy” doesn’t allow me to continue to work from home full time once the symptoms subside.

    1. ACollins*

      I’m with you. My boss suggested trading weeks onsite since as of now one of us needs to show up. I’d prefer no one have to show up, and I can’t figure out if this 50/50 thing is actually helping anyone re: exposure.

    2. Smarched*

      Ugh, that’s so counterproductive. My company’s “solution” was to have us spread out in the office, so every 2nd person in a cube row had to find a new cube. Science!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Ha! My mom’s company started them out by finding her department empty space on different floors and having their employees move into deserted cubicles while letting them test drive WFH one day a week. Now they’ve been told to work from home indefinitely, probably because their management team realized how nonsensical that was. Still, my mom can’t do 100% of her job from home, so she has to go into the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    3. KayDeeAye*

      I asked my doctor if working from home 3 days/week and from work 2/days per week would reduce my chances of getting sick, and what she said was “No.” The risk is essentially identical to that of coming in every day. Every now and then is probably OK, but not regularly every week. “It’s all or nothing,” she said.

      My grandboss refuses to believe this, though, according to my immediate supervisor. “But it’s what her doctor said,” Boss said. “I just don’t believe that,” Grandboss said again.

      Ah, well – in the end, he did the right thing, and we’re now all strongly encouraged to WFH for the next month at least, so that’s what I’m doing. This is a major, major culture shift for my organization, so I’m actually kind of proud of them for taking this step. Doing the right thing is often hard; doing the right thing when you’ve always disliked that particular thing is really hard.

      1. Ticking off the days*

        Living it – it’s crazy, and our employer hasn’t gotten to the point where we’re being fully valued as human beings.
        This crazy notion that if you go into the office once or twice a week you’re not going to get sick. I’ve been a non-essential employee for almost 3 decades and now all of a sudden because they’re in an absolute cluster fuck of a mess I am not any longer.
        Really shows you the core of where you work. Not pretty.

  19. Bookworm*

    I actually do hope we have a mix. I totally understand the need for escape but as someone who is like many who have been thrown into a telecommute work situation (my immediate team also recently underwent/will go through significant changes), I’d like to know.

    A lot of us are flying by the seat of our pants on this and while my org is doing a reasonable job, I like to hear how other orgs are working (or not). Our management seems open to suggestions since this is obviously not something they ever expected to handle, either.

    I appreciate both. I’m all here for any current events-specific stuff and I’m also interested in awful boss stories, uncommunicative co-workers or other “regular” office shenanigans.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      Everyone that works at my husband’s day job location needs to be there. WFH is just not possible.

      He got an email early this morning from CEO in Germany telling everyone that 1) only workers affected thus far are only in Italy and Spain and 2) if they feel ill “at all” regardless of what it is, to text their manager and “stay home” because their health, not the bottom line was paramount.

      I love that old man! No seriously, he’s like 90 or something…

  20. Ruh Roh Raggy*

    Not to be a Debbie Downer right now, but then, I’m feeling pretty down. Office workers can petition for remote work accommodations. My restaurant is essentially shut down; all of our workers are, or will likely soon, be unemployed, and I know they’d rather be working, risks and all, than unable to make rent or feed their kids.

    1. Construction Safety*

      My son’s group is closing 28 restaurants today. His will retain GM and exec. chef & do curbside deliveries.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Yeah, my husband is out of work for the foreseeable future. We’ll be okay, between savings and the massive raise I’m getting by switching jobs, but it’s scary.

    2. Mimi Me*

      My mom was a waitress for over a decade and raised 3 kids on her own and on her tips…when I saw my state was moving to take out only I immediately thought of all the floor staff: wait staff, busboys, and bar staff who were suddenly out of work. I know our governor is trying to make it so that they can collect unemployment at a reasonable rate, but I haven’t heard any word on it since he announced it in the press conference on Sunday/Monday. It’s a scary situation!!!! I’m so sorry.

    3. Nita*

      I’m sorry. Hang in there. Where I live, many restaurants are closing but continuing to deliver takeout, and I think one of our local grocery stores is planning to do the same. I’m seeing lots of Facebook ads/posts from restaurants to that effect, to spread the word. So at least some of the workers will stay employed, and more people can get food without leaving the house. Is that an option for you?

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        Yes, the deli near my house is not open for dine-in but is accepting pick-up and delivery orders through their website.

    4. Fiona*

      This is all I can think about. I’m a white collar worker who can work from home, but my heart is aching for all the baristas, waiters, busboys, et al who live paycheck to paycheck. Even if government assistance arrives, it’s going to have such a massive impact. Thank you for sharing your experience, Ruh Roh.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Hairstylists too. My poor friend and hairdresser for the last three years dealt with several cancellations, including mine, leading up to our governor shutting down everything non-essential, and she’s a single mom of two kids. Their dad died two years ago, so it’s just her income really keeping her afloat – she’s panicking, understandably. She started her own salon with practically nothing and could lose everything she’s spent the last decade building up in a matter of months. Shit’s scary.

    5. BuildMeUp*

      For the restaurant, I know there are some resources out there specifically for tipped workers. There’s a group here in Illinois called One Fair Wage that is giving cash to restaurant workers, delivery drivers, etc. There might be something in your area that is doing the same and could at least give them a little help.

    6. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I know a couple in my building who drive a School Bus. They’ll be soon filling for bankruptcy, since they used most of their savings during the summer break.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I think in my county they are having the school bus drivers deliver meals to the kids who are now having to stay home and usually school is their only reliable source of food. I hope more places go that route.

      2. Loose Seal*

        Oh no! Over here, they are using the school buses and drivers to deliver the student meals since the drivers already know the routes and the kids. It gives the kids someone they know to look forward to seeing (even if they just wave from the window) and the bus drivers can still get their income. Could they suggest something like that to the powers that be?

      3. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        AFAIK, they work for a well known elite school that switched to online lessons because almost all of their regular (non scholarship) students spent summer break abroad. Those kids don’t need meal delivery. The institution may pay them the bare minimum, but I don’t know if it’s enough.

  21. Mediamaven*

    We definitely can’t expect business as usual and we need to be flexible as everyone pivots to a frantic way of living, but I do think it’s important to point out that we are seeing massive layoffs in some industries, client loss, money loss right and left and that will continue. It’s critical for workers to demonstrate their value right now, where ever they are working. Over communicate with your bosses. Show that you are producing. Drive for results. Be reachable. Do it for yourself – not for them. But now is a very important time to shine as best as you can.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      That seems really tone deaf. I get what you’re saying, but let’s be reasonable. We are not machines. Not everyone can just shut out their worries and all the distractions. And employers who aren’t willing to (or can’t) acknowledge and accommodate the basic humanity of their workforce have a much bigger problem.

      1. Quill*

        I have a feeling this will weed out some companies which exist solely on the constant availability of new, disposable workers, but it’s not going to do it without throwing those already exploited people into a tailspin.

        The waiting is pretty bad.

      2. Mediamaven*

        It’s not about not being willing – good employers will absolutely be accommodating and flexible. But what happens in recessions is people get laid off if. Not because companies are jerks, but because there isn’t enough money for everyone. That’s not me being tone deaf. That is a real, terrifying reality. It’s called real talk. Everyone is dealing with this. My suggestion is prove your value.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I agree. In fact, I’m going to have that conversation with my manager tomorrow (I hope – we keep having to reschedule our meeting).

    2. Mazzy*

      I’m trying, I’m trying to muster the strength. It’s really hard! It would probably be better for my mental health. I’m distracted by the markets today, some things I own went down 20% or 30% just today, let alone how much they went down this month. I’m finding it monumentally hard to concentrate, since the point of working is to get money, but I’m losing so much money. And I’m kicking myself for not having more cash on hand for times like this. It feels worse than 2008 because 2008 felt more like a normal recession. This came out of nowhere. I remember travelling in 2008 and 2009 and people/places being normal – restaurants and hotel lobbies full of people, for example. I remember empty cubicles by Feb 2009 but this has that time period beat. So very hard to pull oneself up by my bootstraps. Hopefully I find the mental strength. Right now I want to escape.

      1. Mediamaven*

        Oh the market has been terribly distracting for me. Last week I think I had a panic attack over it. This week I’ve really calmed down although I’m still fixated on it. We have to hope that this situation recovers swiftly. I’ve heard everyone in China is back to work and back to normal which was pretty fast.

  22. DecorativeCacti*

    I work at a blood bank and everything is largely being ignored here.

    There are safety measures in place for donors but not for staff. Everyone is expected to pretend that nothing is happening. They’ve “touched on” teleworking and decided that “we’re not there yet”. We can’t close because we are an essential business, but our accountants, IT staff, even our donor schedulers (I’m in document control – nobody is writing SOPs right now) could work from home and reduce the risk.

    So far all we have gotten is that they’re increasing cleaning and to stay home if you’re sick. We have lots of scared and angry employees.

    1. RMNPgirl*

      AABB is putting out lots of good information for blood centers, America’s Blood Centers is as well. Maybe present some of that stuff to your higher ups?
      I’m in a blood center and we are addressing everything from donor safety, employee safety, and hospital inventories. We have lots of good things here for everyone and we’re quickly moving people to remote who can be remote and haven’t previously been set up to do that, others who have done partial remote before are going more remote, all meetings have been moved to virtual ones. It’s definitely possible to protect your staff along with donors, please use the resources out there and push back with others on your higher ups.
      Blood donation is so essential right now so we don’t have a nationwide shortage and we need to keep our donor service and manufacturing/distribution staffs healthy so they can continue to work and get blood on the shelf for patient’t that need it. I can’t imagine that message wouldn’t have some effect on your executives.

      1. DecorativeCacti*

        I don’t doubt that there is a lot of good information out there and plenty of options for us to stay safe AND open but our management team is a joke.

        They’re apparently meeting every day but aren’t communicating with staff at all. We have gotten exactly two emails regarding employee safety. One on March 3rd telling us they’re stepping up the cleaning and the second on Monday telling us to stay home if we’re sick. That’s it. They get angry when we go to them with questions coordinators have about safety on mobile drives.

        I’m trying to get the union involved but our union is mostly healthcare, so they’re inundated.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I’m a universal donor. I have an appointment to donate on Friday. I’m just driving to the blood drive (it’s at a church in ThisSuburb) and back. I’ll be careful to wash hands and sanitize upon my return since I live with a vulnerable family member.

        I also have a tiny bottle of Purell in my purse. Lucked out that it was already in there!

        1. Faith*

          If you get out of your car to donate blood, make sure when you get home you strip down and put everything in the washing machine, and immediately shower. That was the ER doctor’s advice when I had to go there a few days ago (I too live with a vulnerable family member).

  23. No Name Left*

    And do not forget that IT infrastructure may be unable to cope with the increase of telework, so the first few days can be a struggle just to connect remotely to the systems you need to telework.

    1. LunaMei*

      I work in IT at a large state university, and this is precisely the case. We are trying to figure out ways to get a lot of applications out from behind the VPN, while still being compliant with our security policies, because our VPN is so overloaded right now. Luckily we have a good CIO who is being pretty understanding of the whole situation – especially since a lot of us are trying to accomplish these things with kids around, elders to care for, etc.

    2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Yes. Everyone knows someone who was kicked out conference calls, or was unable to log in. Our time recording application servers are struggling as well.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      we’re not having issues with most of our systems – my department was largely remote before anyway, plus we’re spread over the entire state – but having gone to ONLY VIRTUAL MEETINGS ALLOWED has wreaked utter havoc on our webex server. People have basically started going into empty webexes and recording their own information, then forwarding the email with the recording to the folks who would normally have attended.

    4. NW Mossy*

      A couple of years ago, my area experienced a severe snowstorm that meant most staff couldn’t get into the office for several days. We crashed systems regularly during that time and resorted to FB Messenger to contact coworkers.

      Thankfully, we learned from that and had much better systems in place to scale up this time. We’ve been fully remote since Monday with way fewer IT issues than anyone expected.

  24. Richard Hershberger*

    “Ideally, managers have also established work goals that are based on output, not activities. The way you assess whether someone is being productive is by looking at what outcomes they’re achieving, not by monitoring how they’re spending each individual minute of the day”

    Testify! I loathe jobs where the imperative is to look busy, with no concern for actual productivity. The employees figure this out and get really good at looking busy and very bad at getting anything done.

  25. PseudoMona*

    I’m a lab based researcher. My level of productivity is highly dependent on being able to set up experiments, which I can’t do since my company implemented our work from home plan.

    Luckily my management seems to be reasonably understanding, and there are some things I can do from home (reading, writing, etc). But I certainly can’t be as productive from working from home as I would be working in the lab.

    I suspect once lab is re-opened that there will be a push to “make up” the time we lost.

    1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      My husband’s research lab is effectively shut down, he does research that requires humans be physically present to complete a task, and they are so far unable to figure out how to enroll subjects remotely due to the nature of the task. They are probably losing three to six months of data collection time due to this.

      Thankfully, all of the other work (experimental design, data analysis) can be done by remote login so everyone is able to just shift to other projects, but he’s worried about the next step in the pipeline when they’re out of data to analyze and have grant status reports due.

      1. Human Subjects Researcher*

        Same here. All of our data collection came to a screeching halt this week. If it helps, I am certain that funders – especially the feds – are going to be accommodating of delayed research schedules and results in that grant reporting when data collection couldn’t happen because of social distancing. So, I’m not worried about an unhappy funder.

        But I agree that I am worried about having enough work that can be done remotely if this drags. And about cash flow hits. I can’t ethically bill a funder if we’re stalled out at the data collection stage. But I need to keep paying people. It’s not as bad as restaurant owners, but it’s not going to be pretty for finances or workload for a long time, I fear.

  26. kittymommy*

    I work in local government and this thing has consumed everything. For some of our departments we are looking at WFH but that is just not possible for the departments in my building. We’re all pretty much doing 13-14 hour days and no lunch. I just need to get to a flippin’ grocery store to get cat food and peanut butter but everyone is closing early!!

      1. kittymommy*

        Did not even think of them!! I need to see if they carry their food. My prissy little bastards don’t eat chicken or grain. {eyeroll}

        1. Just J.*

          Yes. Try them. I think they should be ok. I just ordered from them over the weekend. They emailed to say their shipping may take a little longer, but my order is on its way. (Thank goodness as I have a very finicky cat at home.)

          1. CupcakeCounter*

            I giggle every time I see a Chewy box on my neighbors doorstep since their puppy’s name is Chewbacca…goes by Chewy.

    1. Brett*

      My former co-workers in emergency management are doing 16-20 hour days right now. Sounds like most of them are sleeping on site and not going home. At least we have an EOC that is less than 10 years old and has a lot of modern features (but, unfortunately, not a full kitchen like the old one did).

      1. kittymommy*

        I’m currently eating lunch at my desk that one of my co-workers gave me. All we have here is a microwave (and not all faucets have hot water). It’s fun.

  27. Spock's Raised Eyebrow*

    Totally understandable!

    And immersion blenders, gah. I nearly took the tip of my finger off with one several years ago and you can STILL see the scars on a cold day. Thinking speedy healing thoughts!

  28. Daisy-dog*

    I actually just can’t think of anything else other than COVID-19. I enjoy reading what is going on elsewhere. I have other outlets to escape when I need it. Maybe on tomorrow’s COVID-19 open thread, we can have a designated section to talk about escapes & stress reducers that aren’t AAM.

    Thanks for all you do! And get well soon!!

    1. Amy Sly*

      My solutions are World of Warcraft for socializing and a diamond painting (like a mosaic where you stick plastic bits to a printed piece of fabric covered in glue) for mind-numbing stress relief. Pair the latter with an audio book for maximum distraction.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        I’m still working like normal, so I’m still getting human interactions. That diamond painting with audio books sounds extraordinary! I’ve been wanting to re-listen to all the Dresden Files.

        1. Amy Sly*

          I’m currently working on one that’s 28″ by 22″ of Van Gogh’s Irises. I found it at a going-out-of-business craft store for half off and I take an hour or two every day to calm myself with it. Just watch out for kitties knocking the plastic bits over … that tends to reverse the calming effect.

  29. Sunflower Sea Star*

    5.7 earthquake here this morning, too. (We’re all good personally) but I have family members working in non-critical companies who are ordered to stay at work or get fired. I’m heading over to check their house for them because they can’t get home to do it themselves. Taking a wrench in case there’s a gas leak. Fortunately I have a key.
    If you own a business, please remember that people are not automatons. Please remember that your business is NOT the center of their world, nor should it be!

      1. Utahn*

        Yup-totally listened to that song this morning after waking up to an earthquake in the middle of a pandemic.

    1. Sunflower Sea Star*

      Update: Everything was okay over there. A bookcase tipped over and there was a broken glass in the sink, but no damage to her home. Took care of it for her. Still seething at her boss.

    2. Jean*

      I can’t even find the words to describe an employer who threatens to fire their staff for not coming in in the midst of A GLOBAL PANDEMIC WITH A SIDE OF EARTHQUAKE.

      I mean, I can. But we’re not supposed to use abusive language on here.

    3. tangerineRose*

      “If you own a business, please remember that people are not automatons. Please remember that your business is NOT the center of their world, nor should it be!” This!!!

  30. TexasThunder*

    A recruiter just reached out to me, I told him I was holding off until things were less uncertain.
    He thought things might be a few weeks.
    The weird thing was his estimate was based on very poor information (infection rates, medical effects, quarantine methodology)
    I told him I was looking at 12months+.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      I’ve had some vendors reaching out to me as well. I get that they have (?) to do their jobs too, but what makes them think I’m in a position to buy new enterprise software right now?

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I work for a software company, and this is my big fear (that customers will stop buying).

  31. fposte*

    Oh, no, the hand sounds really frustrating! And I can imagine the mental weighing that went into “Can I just wrap it up? Nope, still bleeding and I can see things I’d rather not.” I’m trying to be very careful to avoid that and to counteract the distractedness.

    I’m fortunate in that the university decided for us, so I’m home, but so much is still scrambling and we’ve all been spending a lot of time emailing at high speed.

  32. zora*

    My company took a few days to finally get the wording right, and that “productivity targets are not the priority right now. Families, health and well being are the priority” (paraphrased).

    So they weren’t perfect, but definitely doing better than lots of employers! I wish they had gotten there sooner, of course.

    They still haven’t addressed the PTO situation, but they tend to not be proactive. I’m sure once someone actually gets sick and needs more than their accrued PTO, they’ll make it work for people. At least they haven’t been like Amazon, which is telling employees they can DONATE their PTO to colleagues!! Really, Bezos???

    1. KayDeeAye*

      My organization is also…kind of slowly…doing the right thing. We’re all strongly encouraged to WFH for at least the next month, they’re cancelling meetings left, right and center, and they’re strongly encouraging our volunteers to do so, too. (We’re a very meeting-focused group, and spring is a major meeting season around here, so it remains to be seen how many do so.) Plus WFH, except for now and then, is very much Not Done here, so I’m actually kind of proud of them for taking these steps despite their many reservations. Growth is hard!

      1. KayDeeAye*

        Oh, and re. PTO, they’ve just said they’ll “work with” any employees who need extra sick time. There’s still no formal policy, but I do think they intend to do the right thing. We’ll see. :-)

  33. Nobody Here by That Name*

    Speaking as someone who is terrified about trying to get out of unemployment now, thank you for continuing to answer questions about how to handle the job search during these circumstances.

  34. Elenia*

    I am really impressed how fast my company transitioned from “never wfh, ever, employees who wfh are just slackers”, to “everybody get home and don’t come back for a month.” I am really pleased and proud of our higher ups who made this decision so fast.

    But I gotta say – an Immersion Blender? How did you hurt yourself on that? Those aren’t normally as dangerous!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I stupidly tried cleaning some garlic out of it with my finger and accidentally bumped the button to turn it on while I was doing that. I initially thought I’d lost part of my finger but it was just really really mangled. 19 stitches.

          1. Elenia*

            Bad Alison! I’m glad you got it taken care of, though. I don’t envy you the wound cleaning you will have to do. 19 stiches, good lord. get better soon!

          2. Ali G*

            Don’t feel bad. I still have a scar and my left thumbnail grows wonky 17 years later because this genius thought she could uncork a bottle of wine with a pocket knife. The kind that folds up. You can imagine the rest.

            1. willow for now*

              I gave away all my folding non-locking pocket knives and now only buy locking ones, because … folding.

      1. BusyBee*

        Oh my gosh! Get well soon! I could totally see how easy it would be to do something like that. 19 stitches is serious business.

        1. Butter Makes Things Better*

          Ugh!!! Sending heal-up-fast vibes ((((((((((Alison’s mangled finger))))))))))

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        19 stitches on one finger?! Yikes.

        How are you typing? Or are you using voice to text?

          1. Elenia*

            When I had carpal tunnel surgery last year voice to text SAVED me. I had it on my right hand and my left is almost useless.

          2. TechWorker*

            I write mostly things where my brain rather than my typing speed is the limiting factor (code, technical documents), but I am pretty good at typing with one hand through I think laziness and being a cold person and wanting to sit on the other… I reckon it’s doable and you’ll improve quickly :)

          3. No Tribble At All*

            Time to train the army of cats to type for you :) In all seriousness, Yikes, hope you heal quickly!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Don’t worry, I couldn’t even look at it myself when it was unwrapped from the bloody towel, I would never subject anyone else to it.

    2. Duck Duck Goose*

      When I was 11, I got the tip of my left index finger cut off by an immersion blender! It luckily wasn’t enough that I’m missing a noticeable chunk of finger, but it’s my biggest scar for sure.

  35. Diahann Carroll*

    (I mangled mine in a blender last night and ended up in the ER after eight days of perfect social distancing. Watch out for immersion blenders.)

    OMG, Alison! That’s truly one of my greatest fears (that, and getting my fingers mangled in the garbage disposal) – I hope you’re feeling slightly better and are heavily medicated (I would need to be).

    1. willow for now*

      Remember that one Frasier episode where Niles is doing something in the sink with the disposal and Frasier comes in and turns on the cofee bean grinder?

    2. Loose Seal*

      There is a scene in Stephen King’s Firestarter (spoilers, maybe…that book has been out like 40 years or so) where the guy is mind controlled and stuck his hand/arm into the garbage disposal and turned it on. That scared me more than anything else that guy ever wrote.

      Except for The Stand. Which is looking alarmingly prescient at the moment.

  36. N*

    Oh no, hope your hands are better soon!
    Thank you so much for addressing these questions. I have learned so, so much from you over the last few years. I appreciate your rationality, empathy, and commitment to what is right during this insane time.

  37. Ann O'Nemity*

    Sorry about your hand! Ouch!

    My company moved to WFH this week thankfully. So far they’ve loosened PTO policies (no notice needed) and offered a shortened workweek option (for less pay). Neither option will be sufficient long term for the parents who are caring for young kids at home for the foreseeable future. I’m not sure what the best solution is, though. It’s tough.

  38. Rebecca*

    Thanks Alison. I literally had about an hour to get my stuff around to get ready to work from home, as our company is not work from home friendly except under really extreme circumstances. Like now. I’m non exempt, and of course still have to keep my punches on ADP’s site exactly as before. It’s hard because internet has been spotty, connections to the VPN break off unexpectedly, etc. There are a lot of us all of a sudden using internet in a rural area and I suspect we’re going to have bandwidth issues.

    All in all, it’s going OK. I sorely miss my office chair, and I’m working at my late father’s work desk in the bunker, I mean basement, but I have a cat for company. My neighbor is also working from home so we’re taking short walks in the middle of the day so we have human contact, although at a safe distance. I broke my “personal cell phone rule” and have given it to key people in my company as well as my customers, because we need to be really nimble with our shipment changes and sometimes minutes matter. I’m glad I have a laser printer – and I’m able to use it with my work laptop. Thankful for the docking station, too.

    I’m hoping to carry on as usual, no delays, no glitches, and want to present this to my manager as a way for me to avoid the 25 minute drive to work a few times a week and continue to work from home after this is over 1 or 2 days per week.

    I hope our company gives some extra vacation time to our awesome IT staff who have been working tirelessly to get us all up and running, troubleshooting, etc. I got a text at midnight the other night from my IT support person who had solved my VPN problem – man, I just give them so much credit.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      We are getting a temporary bump in speed and bandwidth from my local provider to help both students and at-home workers.
      However I am getting nasty-grams from my work IT about my excessive use of the VPN network. There is almost nothing I can do without being connected to the network so they’ll just have to deal.

  39. nochildcare*

    yes! Thank you for posting.

    I just scheduled a meeting to see how to proceed with a project since my two kids aren’t in daycare now. One of the leaders just replied to the meeting invite that they thought, “this is a great time to [do project] while people are forced to be working from home and may not be as distracted as usual.”

    I just told you there’s no childcare and all the schools are closed for the year. It is not a great time. ugh.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t even have kids and I find that a stunningly myopic statement. You don’t think people are distracted? Plus work is a freaking hamster wheel right now.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah. WFH does not usually mean “free childcare” nor should it. Because you can’t really fully concentrate on doing your work with kids home!
      And the school districts seem to think the parents are now teachers in addition to their regular jobs.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      HAHAHAHA! Not as distracted as usual… that’s funny. First, kids. Second, the news. Third… well, all kinds of third.

      Put a pillow on your desk for when you want to hit your head on it.

  40. Reality Check*

    They won’t let us WFH even though we could. We’re all told to keep our office doors closed -we have no windows – and either eat at our desks or in our cars. It has become a prison and a tomb there. People are ANGRY.

      1. Reality Check*

        Thanks. I forgot to mention it has had the effect of forcing 15 women to share 1 toilet as well.

  41. MiddleGenerationMillennial*

    My office expects us all to work from home, but we are denied laptops and have to use our own devices. This severely impacts my work flow and I can barely get anything done. They barely set us up for home access right before making us leave the office and I’m furious.

      1. MiddleGenerationMillennial*

        Thanks, I was thinking I was going insane bc nobody else could explain why.

  42. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    On Friday we had a call with our Grandbosses, who told us WFH was “optional, preferably for people in high risk groups”. On Monday we got an email from the Regional Manager saying “MANDATORY WFH RIGHT NOW, DON’T COME UNLESS YOU NEED HARDWARE SUPPORT” (yes, with caps, highlighted and underlined). Hiring and onboarding is limited to critical positions, and I don’t know how they deal with departing employees. My ex-manager was supposed to start his new job on Monday, and I have no idea how he’s dealing with it.

    1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I was emailing a former colleague last week. She said her direct report had lined up a new job and gave her two weeks’ notice, but when they shut down all nonessential operations that kicked in a union clause that froze her job in place. So now her job is in limbo until this is all over.

  43. HailRobonia*

    My work from home story: the chair I am using is really hard and so my hubby bought me a very comfy cushion called the Egg Sitter, so called because it is supposedly so squishy that you can sit on an egg without breaking it.

    So that’s the name they went with. I picture the inventor saying “see, you can sit on an egg comfortably! let’s call it the egg sitter?” Marketing: “how about Comfy Cushion?” Inventor: “NO IT HAS TO BE EGGS!” and it turns out the inventor was seven chickens in a trenchcoat.

    1. HailRobonia*

      I have not tested this claim…. yet. But with each passing day the likelihood increases.

  44. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I’ve been working from home for about 9 months now, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been impacted– things aren’t the same for anyone, really. My partner is now working from home, and the options we had available to us a week ago, like common areas in our building to work in and our apartment’s gym for workouts, are no longer open. Our apartment isn’t teeny, but it’s not huge either. On top of that, my anxiety-driven sleep disorder is now back in full force– I was up for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. While I am usually able to take a nap during a quiet hour without anyone knowing about it, I now feel this strange pressure to be way more available because the rest of my company is now in my boat and I feel like I have to set some sort of example. That’s on me, though, and I will get over myself eventually.

    I’m fortunate that my employer has been outwardly very supportive about health and well-being, but I find it hard to truly do what I need to take care of myself right now. I don’t have kids or dependents, so my life should be just about the same, right? Well, no. I could really use a few hours off (or even a whole day) to help me manage my stress. According to my boss, that should be fine, but… I don’t know, it’s a weird time.

    1. Josephine Beth NotAmy*

      I’m feeling quite the same. I’m generally 2 days in the office, and then a combination of WFH and in-home client stuff. The in home visits are called off for at least 2 weeks, and we’re all essentially banned from the office. (While we had a couple of attitude issues early on from TPTB, I give my org a lot of credit for coming around quickly!) I’m used to being home, used to my husband being around for part of the day because of his shift work…but now I can’t go to Starbucks or the bookstore or whatever, I’m nearly paralyzed with anxiety for my parents and my immunocompromised kiddo, and trying to calm my staff.
      I know I’m lucky in that my supervisors are extraordinarily supportive and my team is awesome, but I feel like I need to be extra calm and to project some sense of normalcy…and I just can’t pull it off right now.

    2. TheTomatoInUrFruitSalad*

      Same here, no kids or dependents, but getting whacked with stress. I slept in until 10 today and have been lackluster at work today (I have accomplished nothing), but my boss is giving huge lenience to those with dependents, so I get that lenience when I need time, too. It feels like I don’t ‘deserve’ the time, but it IS a weird time and self-care is important for EVERYONE, even if it’s just them at home.

    3. Chris*

      Listen to your boss. Take the time.

      Along those lines I’ve decided that I’m taking an hour after lunch every day to take a walk along the riverfront path behind my apartment complex. Any “lost time” is being more than made up for by the positive effect it has on me and my work.

  45. AFRS*

    Hope your hand is ok, Alison! And honestly, we need resources like you to navigate the situation, so these posts are welcome! Thank you!

  46. Nacho*

    I’m support staff, and without anybody to support, I’ve been temporarily demoted back to new hire (though at my normal pay). At least I can do this from home, with a better set up than I had when it was my normal job 4 years ago. Some of the others got crash courses in this since they’d never had this job before, and I know they’re strugling.

  47. MsMaryMary*

    Corporate has been really great about WFH, “strongly encouraging” it since last week. A lot of our job includes travel and client meetings, and obviously that’s off the table right now. Historically it’s been pretty acceptable to work from home or flex hours. 90% of us are salaried and it’s understood that if you’re responsible enough to go to a client meeting at 7am or 7pm, you can handle your workload in or out of the office.

    However, there has been a weird insistence from local leadership that our office is Not Closed. I don’t know if they think clients will have a negative reaction if the physical office is closed but we’re all working remotely? Or if some of the more, um, high energy executives feel the need to leave the house (and their families) for at least part of the day? Or if some of the more traditional folks never learned to do more than check email and make phone calls if they’re not in the office?

    Personally, I don’t have kids, my brother lives with our elderly parents, and I’m not in a high risk group. I’m working remotely out of solidarity to my colleagues who have obligations that mean they can’t go into the office. I’ve also made it clear that if there is something urgent that requires an in-person meeting or if someone needs me to pinch hit, I can make it happen pretty quickly.

    Stay safe and healthy, everyone.

    1. MsMaryMary*

      Oh, but suggestions on how to quiet a small dog who magically starts barking and whining as soon as I’m on the phone would be appreciated. I got him a new chew toy but he has next to no interest. He powers through a kong or puzzle toy pretty quick, and can demolish a bully stick in minutes.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Are your hands free while you’re on the phone? If you don’t have to take notes, phone calls can be a good time for pupper snuggles.

        Does your buddy have a crate? His routine has been upended, so he might be a little stressed out, hence the barking and whining. If he likes his crate, phone calls might be a good time to get him in there with a toy so he can relax. My bud is older and definitely weirded out by having both of us at home and working, but unfortunately we lost his crate when we moved and never replaced it, and I’m kind of regretting that now.

        1. MsMaryMary*

          I’ve tried puppy cuddles during a call, but he tries to give me puppy kisses and makes little whines and grumbles when that’s not allowed (it is so cute…but not professional).

          He has a crate but I don’t use it often. Mainly if I’m having work done on the house or a delivery is being made. He doesn’t love the crate but I’ll give it a try. I’ve tried putting him outside, but inevitably he ends up barking at something out there and annoying the neighbors.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Does he like peanut butter? (Mine doesn’t– only dog I have ever met who doesn’t like the stuff.) If he does, try filling his Kong with peanut butter, put it in the freezer, then give it to him in his crate.

            1. Dan*

              Mine liked peanut butter… until he figured out I was burying his pills in there, and now he won’t touch it :(

              1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                We give our bud goat cheese when he needs pills. Cream cheese works too, as does crappy cheddar!

      2. Amy Sly*

        Hmm … wonder if a LickiMat would work? It’s a plastic mat with lots of textural crevices. You smear something like peanut butter in there and they have to work to get it all.

  48. Anonymous Because Reasons*

    Warning: Something of a rant ahead:

    So my company is FINALLY gearing up to have us all work from home. However, I’ll probably be the only one from my office actually working.

    Without going into too much detail, it’s next to impossible for most of my office to work from home just given the nature of our work and our need to have the actual materials we’re working with in hand. Grandboss is suggestion we do things like read articles and polish up on skills relevant to our industry. However, while relevant to our industry, most of this is not relevant to my particular branch – with the exception of me. Most of my co-workers could care less about professional development, seeing as they’re in very set roles that have hardly changed for decades and are only a few years from retirement. Meanwhile, given the nature of my job duties, there’s a lot of things I can do from home to assist colleagues from other offices, so I’ll be the only one who’s actually working while all this is going down.

    This is on top of many people in our company already being unhappy that part time staff is given paid leave while full-time staff is expected to bend over backwards to work from home.

    1. cncx*

      i sympathize, i’m in IT, i’ve had an extremely busy week when i know the vast majority of my coworkers, once their vpn issues were sorted by me, are basically just monitoring their mail. i’ve had a super hard week, including a twelve hour day monday, and i know that for a lot of my coworkers it’s been a lot more low key. It’s really hard for me not to be bitter that some people are kicking back or on light duty at full salary and my job has actually gotten more busy. Keep in mind i work in an office/industry where none of us will lose our jobs and w’re in europe so the social conditions are also different.

  49. Lost academic*

    I’m at a firm on billable hours and today they changed our sick and PTO policy such that instead of taking it in 4 hour increments we can now take it in single hours. My initial reaction was that they were trying to minimize down time at our expense rather than having us utilize nonbillable work and codes. Anyone else seeing this? Any other rationales that hello be think better of my company?

    1. Nita*

      I think it’s better to have smaller increments on sick time! I’ve WFH while sick so many times, and sometimes I’d be able to put in, say, 7 hours but I was feeling too bad to put in 8. So I’d just take one hour off. If I had to do 4 hour increments, I’d have to only work half the day, I guess… So I think they’re trying to give you more flexibility about how to handle your sick time in a very uncertain situation.

      1. Lyudie*

        Agreed, I would actually use all my PTO every year if I could take an hour or two at a time for dr.’s appts and such. They might still be trying to minimize downtime, but it’s good for employees too.

    2. QED*

      Actually, letting people take PTO in single hour increments could help people who are now at home with their kids–if you can take PTO in smaller increments, you can use it for an hour or two when your kids need focused attention. If you’re navigating that with a partner, this policy would let you switch off. It’s of course possible that your company is trying to do something hinky, but I wouldn’t jump to that unless the policy change also came with a mandate to cut down on nonbillable work and codes in favor of using PTO. But if the PTO change came alone, I think it’s just to give people more flexibility.

    3. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      My company also mandates PTO in four-hour chunks. (And it’s all PTO. We have no sick leave.) I’d welcome a transition to one-hour chunks right now because it would help me juggle the sudden childcare responsibilities without burning through my PTO super-fast. I may only need 1-2 hours a day to cover the kids when my husband can’t, but as it is now I’ll have to burn 4 hours of PTO for it each time. I’d see your employers’ new policy as simply expanding your options.

  50. Miss May*

    My partner is supposed to start his new job on Monday. They haven’t said anything otherwise, but I’m still nervous. I’m counting the days, hoping he wont be laid off before his first day.

  51. Hiring Mgr*

    It seems almost criminal to be requiring people to come in to office jobs where WFH could be done easily. Seriously what the f**k? This guy (exec at tech co) has been calling out companies doing this to shame them into doing the right thing.. https://twitter.com/dhh

    1. tangerineRose*

      “It seems almost criminal to be requiring people to come in to office jobs where WFH could be done easily.” Yes.

  52. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    It amazes me how managers act in the face of remote employees. Managers are not standing over your shoulders all day every day watching you do your work. They’re usually in a bunch of meetings throughout the day, or have their own work to get done, and have no eyes on their employees for a large majority of the day. Why all of a sudden do they need to know what you’re doing every second of every day just because you’re not sharing a location? And as Alison mentioned, in the office most people will get up and use the bathroom, get a cup of coffee, and socialize with others throughout the day so why are they expecting different behavior at home? I’m thankful that since I’ve been remote, I’ve worked for reasonable people who understand that if they send me a Skype message and I don’t answer immediately, that I’m not taking a nap or having a party and neglecting my work.

    1. Academic Library Manager Still*

      yes, I was one of the first to WFH because of a multitude of underlying conditions. I was figuring out a plan to “account for my time” when I realized 98% of the time my direct supervisor has no idea what I am doing. Let that one go.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s a psychological thing really. They “know” where you are in the back of their heads, even if it’s just you wandering around the office, it’s “Nancy is at work, so clearly she’s getting work done, right/right!”

      But when you’re scattered around, you start to have that worrying mindset of “Where’s all the staff?! What are they doing in their homes right now?!” It’s silly AF to us who aren’t like that but that’s the breakdown of what they’re feeling.

      Think about parents who rarely worry about their kids while they’re in the house doing God knows what. But if they’re somewhere “unknown” and outside of your “Control” bubble, you start getting anxious. I get this way with my cat, if I go somewhere for an overnight, he’s fine, he’s at home doing what he always does. But I’m not there, so I get really worked up and this is why I do not do overnights much lol.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        I understand the why, but that still doesn’t make it okay. You either trust your people to get their work done or you don’t. If you don’t trust them, that’s a bigger problem to solve that has nothing to do with their location.

  53. Lena Clare*

    My employers and university closed for face-face working and teaching on Monday evening. I have to WFH (I’m currently on lock down because I have symptoms) when I return to work, but I will be able to do some things tomorrow. Any sick leave we take won’t count towards the total sick leave we take throughout the year, which is a relief.

    I think they’ve done the right thing.

    I’m very worried though, and I do feel like I need a space away from it all – social-media distancing as well as social distancing. I get that people need to talk about it, and I also get that people need a break from it. I think, Alison, that you’ve struck the right balance, and I am sorry about your finger. It sounds like a really nasty accident but that you’re worried more about having to spend many hours in ER. I hope you’re ok.

    Apart from the worry, the symptoms are very mild and I am doing ok. I am gutted that Eurovision has been cancelled!, but I understand that it’s for the best. It’s horrible not knowing how long this is going to go on for.

  54. Wing Leader*

    Yep. My company is all, “Go home if you feel sick. Otherwise, we expect everyone to be at work.”

  55. Square Root of Minus One*

    I’ve had my first remote day today, after general confinement started yesterday, final day of my vacation. Strangest “back from vacation” day ever.
    As an office we are so ridiculously underprepared it would be funny in other circumstances. I’m foreign, in a country where about 1-2% people WFH, and government, with an HR manager opposed to WFH by principle (among other faults, including, if rumors are correct, dating the deputy big boss).
    Remote access to our network can’t be set up, meaning no email and no documentation, I haven’t seen my email in a week, I have no idea what I should do, and getting info or work material from the directors is like pulling teeth. I feel guilty because I don’t do much. And I don’t even have kids! Horribly frustrating.
    I don’t even know HOW to work like this. Make the best of it, obviously, but the best doesn’t seem like anything.
    Sorry for the hand Alison – I have no idea what “immersion blender” translates to but I’ll look it up, it seems dangerous.

    1. Amy Sly*

      Sometimes called a stick blender; sometimes referred to as a boat motor for its resemblance to one. Short version: instead of bringing the food to the blender, you bring the blender to the food.

  56. Salt Lake City*

    So side question. I’m in Salt Lake are we had a “minor” earthquake this morning, a 5.7. My animals were freaking out, stuff broke, but no cabinets or anything fell over at my house.
    My work is state, closed to the public, and we’re asked to come in as possible.
    I was freaking out, but not sure it was worth calling in over, given everyone else is going through the same thing too. We were told to stay home. I just don’t know where the stay home line is anymore. Where is the line? Where do you have to take into account your work is not open to the public and safeish?

  57. L*

    Just yesterday we got a spiel about how to work from home…along with the expectation that we’ll get ourselves set up and soon come up to about 90% of where our productivity was from the office.

    I wish I could afford to send my boss the link to this.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      We should crowd-source that, a la Strangers on a Train! Everybody sends this link to somebody else’s boss, and nobody gets in trouble!

      (If only life were that easy! I hope your boss comes around soon.)

      1. L*

        I wish! I do not expect that in general, though. Any of my three bosses before this and I think I’d be in better shape. And of course, the health insurance for myself and my kids, comes from this job.

  58. Arctic*

    The crazy situations in questions are the most fun. But, at heart, this is a practical website. It just wouldn’t make sense to ignore this crisis. This isn’t a safe space. It’s a space for people to ask questions regarding employment and job search.

    I’m having constant anxiety about COVID-19 and how it will impact the jobs of myself and my loved ones (and the health, of course, but that’s not pertinent here.) I’ve been in tears and had panic attacks. And I would love a break. But that’s just not what this website is.

    1. Nita*

      One day at a time. We have to take this one day at a time. Maybe it will blow over sooner than we think. There are already vaccine trials happening.

      1. Entry-level Marcus*

        I hate to be a Debbie downer, but experts think the soonest we’ll have a vaccine is the end of the year. They have to do multiple trial rounds, and each of those will take months to do.

      2. anon4this*

        Hate to be a downer but the FLU is milder than COVID-19 and affects us permanently (hence the annual flu shot).
        This ain’t leaving anytime soon.

      3. NotMyRealName*

        It’s more likely that they will try out some already approved anti-virals first. Having a treatment would help a lot.

        1. MsSolo*

          There are several already being trialled in China, Singapore and Australia (and other countries, but there’s a lot of bad reporting going on around this, so I’m not sure which), including HIV drugs and anti-malarials. Latest reports suggest the current combo of HIV drugs isn’t proving more effective than the existing treatments, but there’s still a lot of testing going on.

  59. Kix*

    I work in a state public health department and I am grateful that my employer has been proactive throughout this public health crisis. Even before official directives came down from our governor’s office, my branch chief checked in privately with each manager to assess team needs and encourage telework early on. Those of us not considered immediately essential personnel are on telework status for the foreseeable future with the understanding that we can be activated as essential personnel if needed.

    In addition, our governor has shown tremendous leadership, transparency, and great concern for all during this crisis.

    1. Minnesotan Here*

      I liked our Governor before. I love him now. Because- science, education, and safety.

  60. L*

    Oh! Could you tag anything NOT related to COVID, so people who want virus-free posts could go to the tag for the duration?

  61. Nita*

    I think it’s important to try to do business as usual. At least some parts of the economy can still function with people WFH. If those parts grind to a halt, that’s more people unemployed. But I feel for everyone trying, it sounds hellish to balance work with the stress of the situation, kids without child care, and all the disruptions that are happening. For some people business as usual is just not going to be possible…

    My company has gone WFH to the extent possible – some parts of our business can’t be done remotely, so we’re just doing what we can to minimize exposure. I can’t tell yet how much longer we’ll be able to do our work, and at what point our clients will spook and put all their business on hold. But the longer we’re keeping the usual work going, the easier it will be for our staff to weather the storm financially.

  62. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    This nested wrong! But on that topic, the Domestic Worker’s Alliance has set up a care fund for in home workers who can’t work right now. They also have a platform to help people that employ domestic workers to provide sick leave and insurance. If your normal child care, housekeeper, home health aide, etc can’t work right now, check it out: https://www.domesticworkers.org/

    For the rest of us, if you can, consider donating

  63. second-rate-shostakovich*

    In my company things have gone quiet regarding the situation after a flurry of activity.

    I think this is because two (at least) of the senior members do not want WFH but are perfectly aware they are opposing Government, WHO etc. guidelines.

    Given that they have much to say about everything else, the silence is eloquent.

    Meanwhile, the younger members of staff are getting agitated and I am spending much time pacifying them …

  64. theelephantintheroom*

    To be honest, some of your posts about COVID-19 make me feel less stressed about it (just in seeing the number of employers who are being flexible—I don’t know why, it just makes me feel better to see people doing something).

    And your poor hand!! That’s horrible. I hope it heals quickly!

  65. TheTomatoInUrFruitSalad*

    I’m a 36-year old dude and I’m terrified of my immersion blender.
    It’s the only kitchen appliance that makes me uneasy.

  66. Academic Library Manager still*

    Thank you. I was just emailing someone to say just this without using the word, “cool your jets” We will NOT be time lining this project. AND
    No, I will not be micro-managing my reports work-from-home time. They will work independently. They will complete their WFH projects as best they can with the technology at hand given they may also be supervising minors. We will have weekly check-ins. I am available for check ins or video sharing of pets, children, and baking.
    That is all.

  67. RedBlueGreenYellow*

    I’m glad every time I see a comment from someone whose company is handling this well; I’m glad my company is not the only one. Where I work, everyone whose job can be done from home was asked to work from home several days ago, in part to protect the people who can’t work from home. Lots of precautions are being taken to protect the people who have to come in (because my company provides a critical service to people with a serious medical condition), including things like increased cleaning of all company spaces and company-paid-for catered meals. The people who have to come in are also getting extra pay. The focus seems to be on protecting employees and customers, and not on worrying about the bottom line. (It helps, I’m sure, that the company was in good financial shape before the crisis started.)

  68. noahwynn*

    Leaders were I work had the right idea, but it wasn’t communicated the best at the start. Originally it was “non-essential staff work from home.” Well no one wants to be non-essnetial because that means you might not be needed.

    I work for an airline, what they meant was, not 100% required to be present in person to do your job. Obvioulsy crewmembers, airport staff, and other have to be there in person to do your job, but most office staff can work from home. The message on Monday was finally “you will stay home and do your work there unless there is an operational need for you to be present at the office.”

    Thankfully we got a new IT head in mid-2019. When he first started one of his focuses was on disaster recovery, so he made sure our VPN could handle having everyone work from home, moved us all to softphones on our laptops, and rolled out Microsoft Teams so we could work better together remotely. He looks like a genius at the moment.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup – I’m astounded by how many companies don’t have a disaster plan in place. I thought that was common sense.

  69. Retail not Retail*

    I have a non-essential job at a non-essential amenity that is open to the public bc we’re a city park. No one is keeping their distance and they made fun of me for refusing to ride in vehicles yesterday (no choice today in the pouring rain). Why not minimize exposure?

    But my coworkers have always mocked my safety worries – golf cart on a city street, treehouse in lightning, continuing to work while bloody – so it’s nothing new.

  70. Foreign Octopus*

    I’m sorry but I have to ask – how in the hell did you mangle your hand with an immersion blender?

    Hope you’ve still got all your fingers and are doing well!

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Well, go big or go home, I suppose!

        Glad you’re doing okay even if you’re not able to use it properly at the moment.

  71. Utahn*

    My company is doing pretty well with getting everyone possible working from home (we’re in software so it is a little easier than some industries).

    Compounding the coronavirus, there was an earthquake this morning. I felt it but there was no damage in my area–there was damage farther north, closer to the epicenter which was near the SLC airport.

    However, the state’s coronavirus hotline was taken out by the earthquake and the state lab doing the testing had to halt operations and is being assessed for damage.

  72. EPLawyer*

    I always worked from home. But I met clients at the public library (closed now). Fortunately I can still do telephone consults and I did most communication with clients by email anyway. Just certain things had to be done in person. I prefered the first meeting in person so we could read each other’s body language and its just easier in person to draw someone out than over the phone. Discovery meetings where they are handing over documents. But not doing in person meetings even if the library were open.

    But not all of my job is office work. My field is a lot of courtroom. Court finally closed in my main county. Chief Judge of the State issued an order closing the court except for emergencies and other matters each county’s admin judge felt could be heard. My main county AJ heard full speed ahead and tried to stay open. Finally the CJ issued an order that basically said Closed means Closed. Then added this time — and no local judge can overrule this order. AJ got the hint. We are closed. So all my clients are in limbo for custody and divorce. Which includes child support and alimony. We have an re-open date, but it will probably be extended.

    My husband’s job is absolute not able to work from home. He’s maintenance in a factory. You can’t fix a conveyor belt from the couch. If they close, he won’t get paid. Thankfully we have savings that will last for a while. He’s also a go-getter, so he will find something to do.

    Also – Alison stick to advice and stay out of the kitchen. that tweet last night was scary.

  73. Liminally Maple*

    There are only two of us in my government department that can’t WFH. Unlike everyone else, we are also contractors from a temp agency. So last Friday there was a (carefully spaced out) all office meeting where the boss encouraged everyone to work from home. It was a very reassuring meeting, “priority is family right now, it is ok if your productivity is down.” Except for the two of us, who can’t work from home, and don’t have any paid leave or anything. If they officially shut the office down, there was a support program for temps in that case. Since everyone (except us) can work from home, however, they don’t have to shut the office. So there is just the two of us, doing work that is non-essential even to the running of this non-essential department and trying not to breathe on public transit.

    So please, if you are working with contractors, please be generous with us.

  74. Beancounter Eric*

    Most of our office staff is working from home. Last week, leadership, which normally doesn’t like WFH, issued orders to IT to get as many people set up for WFH immediately – kudos to IT for making it happen.

    About the only people here are our warehouse team, as we are still shipping orders and have goods inbound from Taiwan, a couple of customer service people, who may go WFH soon, and lil-ol’ me, the Accounting Manager.

    Makes sense – I live 3 miles from the office – I get in the car, drive here, walk in and get to work – afternoon, reverse.
    Other than the odd grocery run, I don’t interact with anyone between work and home.

    Social distancing – what’s new?!?! I’ve been avoiding people most of my life.

  75. lnelson in Tysons*

    I really did like the story about the spicy food.
    Glad that it had a happy ending (if my memory is correct).
    Thanks to Alison for mixing up content. Yes, the Coronavirus is the main news story, but life does on go.
    Currently dealing with an ex-employee who want my company to re-write the compensation scheme just for him. And yes, you did read that right an ex-employee.
    Working with the boss on that on.

  76. LDN Layabout*

    Flexibility needs to come from everyone right now.

    By which I mean, DON’T SHOUT AT THE DELIVERY DRIVERS IF THERE ARE MISSING ITEMS IN YOUR SUPERMARKET ORDERS. The poor dude carrying my stuff was so timid when he handed me the missing items list and it turns out people have been shouting at him all day.

    1. TechWorker*

      My company is relatively well set up to wfh and whilst I am a bit nervous about having to do my first performance reviews over video (definitely not ideal!) it’s going ok so far.

      My sibling on the other hand works for a company that doesn’t allow wfh for security reasons and they are being put onto shifts so only half of them are in the office at once. They live with my mum, who is old enough to be at risk and it’s not ideal they’re having to still go out every day :s As things stand we’re still doing much much better compared to lots of folks (unless there’s serious long term job losses, we’re not at immediate risk and have reasonable savings as a family) – but I’m still a bit scared about it all.

    2. sheltering in place for the duration*

      Why would anyone yell at anyone doing their job right now? I will admit that I was surprised that my grocer was even offering gefilte fish but I thought what the hell? I added grated horseradish. All good. Yup, no fish but I now have an abundance of horseradish if anyone needs some.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          I’m with CupcakeCounter, horseradish is great. I like to add a dollop to potato salads and anything iron-y.

          So the same way it’s great with steak/roast beef? It also works really well with spinach!

    3. Ketricken Farseer*

      I ordered groceries to be delivered, and the guy did a super great job of substituting items the store didn’t have, even if it meant I got 3 lbs of bacon instead of 1 :) I tipped him an extra $10 for being awesome and helping out those of us who can’t go to grocery stores.

    4. Rebecca*

      Oh that makes me angry! I profusely thanked the worker who brought my groceries out the other day. She too was hesitant about all the subs and things not available, I told her, this is totally fine, thank you for trying, and I appreciate all that you do. No problem. I was happy to get anything at all and not have to fight the locusts stripping the store!

    5. LQ*

      I need to add to this. You know that person answering your call at unemployment? Be nice to them too, be quick. They are also freaking out and concerned about their childcare, getting sick, and all the rest and they are the economic emergency responders right now and they don’t just have to go into work but they also have to do extended hours with laser focus while trying to stay on top of all the changes that are happening daily.

      (And please, don’t call. If you just want to ask a question, read the entire website first. Someone who doesn’t speak English needs to get through the call line more than you if you can do it online, do it online, read the website.)

  77. lazy elephant*

    Y’all, not only are we all unnecessarily being required to come in to the office right now in a city with plenty of cases (people with small kids and no childcare included), but this morning we received an email ORDERING US TO STOP CLOSING OUR OFFICE DOORS. And then signing off that we are all very appreciated.

    I don’t even know what to do with this situation. It’s crazy making.

    1. TechWorker*

      If ‘don’t close your doors’ is a new policy then wtf? Even if it’s not… this is really not the time to enforce that!

      1. lazy elephant*

        We’ve been encouraged not to keep our doors closed too much. But ‘don’t close your doors’ was not a blanket rule.

  78. Anita Brayke*

    Ouch! I’m sure you know this now, but always use utensils with a blender! Take care of yourself.

  79. Talia*

    My job just said that we are outright prohibited from working from home, regardless of whether or not we could. I should note that this is top-down from the very highest levels— pretty much everyone is against it except the person giving the order, but the person giving that order has so much power they can give that order and cannot be overruled. I had more or less calmed down and now I am furiously, furiously angry at the reckless disregard for our lives.

  80. WearingManyHats*

    Question about the Wall St. Journal memo–did they expect people to have their Hangouts cameras on all the time? Or only for meetings? I’ve encouraged our staff to have cameras on for meetings that would otherwise be in person so we can at least have a bit of that human interaction. But obviously no one has hangouts on all the time. Right?

  81. Office Plant*

    Wishing you a quick recovery, Alison! And I appreciate all the virus posts right now- it’s cathartic for me as I’m among the group of folks dealing with a lot of uncertainty right now due to my current job situation.

  82. Sharkey*

    My company’s leadership has done a great job. We’ve had global all-hands webinars at least once a week for the last three weeks where the CEO and crisis management team spend a lot of time answering questions on camera from whomever wants to ask. He’s encouraged us to use our webcams on regular meetings to let others see our situations, and he just sent an email that says how much he’s enjoyed seeing kids on their parents’ laps, dogs running around in the background, etc. He specifically said that WFH doesn’t mean working 24/7, and that we should take time for exercise and down time.

    After reading some of these comments, I feel really fortunate!

  83. IT bad guy*

    I am Director of IT for my company – we have been getting ready for such a time for the last 5 years and we were READY!!!! My department is the hero of our company right now. 90% of our corporate office is now remote within 2 days. Because we are 24/7/365 and are essential (everyone staying home and ordering online? We are part of how you are going to get that delivery) we have always had to have alternatives to power outages, phone outages or natural disaster – and now it has all come together.
    Our people are happily working from home and those still in the building have their doors shut and distance – and yet our business is continuing to run. Some of top management was / is still leering of ‘everyone working from home’ but I believe that they are going to change their minds after this. Also it is helping us to now all concentrate on how we support our remote workers who cannot work from home – those front line people that make it all happen.

  84. Jam Buddy*

    I’m stuck in a weird situation where I work in the childcare industry (not a teacher – I’m on the admin side) and our bosses have been so… not willing to see that this is a big deal. They keep throwing around the phrase “business as usual” which I understand they would like to but idk I have a husband with a respiratory condition and am thinking of quitting but am not sure if that’s just me overreacting. I know so many people are facing uncertainty right now so it’s just such a weird time.

  85. this job could always be 90% remote*

    We got a lovely email yesterday saying not to worry about tracking our time, that they understand productivity will be different for everyone in this situation, and to just try to get work done. Then about an hour into the workday today we were told that actually, we do have to track our time (manually, because the normal system doesn’t work remotely), and that we should try to hit our normal goals. I am incredibly curious about what happened overnight. The updated situation is definitely more in-character than the original, but this seems almost worse than if they’d just chosen either thing from the beginning.

    1. Closet Introvert*

      I wish my work would do that – we don’t generally track our time, and they have been extremely good compared to many organizations. know that they are assuming that many of us are not putting in full days, because working from home with kids isn’t easy (not to mention focusing under this much stress), but wish they would come out and say it so I could feel a little less guilty about it and focus on doing what I can.

    2. Rexish*

      We got a reminder to make sure we will wok full hours even with distractions. Basically it meant tha if your kids who are home from school needs help, you need to make up the hours in the evening. And yes. We need to record everything.

  86. Delta Delta*

    I’m an attorney with a home office and I generally meet clients in other locations. I’ve been mostly talking to clients on the phone or emailing, so much of this isn’t different for me. I have a very heavy courtroom practice, and my state’s courts are closed for a while (and it may be extended), so that’s a big difference.

    I half wonder if once people get into the swing of WFH (it takes a little practice) productivity might actually increase in some sectors. I imagine some people sending emails at 5:58 a.m. (as I have been known to do) because they’re up and they might as well work. And without a commute or requirement to wear pants, work can happen at different times. Maybe I’m looking for a silver lining, but I think this could be pretty revolutionary for a lot of businesses.

    1. emmelemm*

      My partner also works for a very small firm (they do have an office where he goes, although he can work from home). But many of their cases are contingency based, and with the courts now closed and no formal mediation “across the table” type of things, I’m just worried about their cash flow. He’s got plenty of things to do, for a decent period of time, but if nothing gets all the way across the finish line to settlement/trial, then that’s no $$.

  87. Aggretsuko*

    Oh my god, they just kept saying “business as usual! business as usual!” over and over again during the last week and I just wanted to SCREAM. NO IT’S BLOODY NOT!!!!!!!!!!!

  88. Ketricken Farseer*

    I’m an extreme introvert, but even I’m having a hard time with the forced isolation. It’s one thing if I choose to hole up in my house and not seeing another human being for days…but quite another if I’m forced to. My company is handling this really well and everyone is using their video cameras so we at least have a semblance of human contact, but I’m getting bored and not a little bit lonely.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Same with the forced isolation aspect! I get that way when we’re housebound for any reason I’m out of control of. Busted my knee up, couldn’t leave for awhile. Snowed in, please don’t.

      You’re not alone. I hope you find ways to get socializing in with the distances. The internet is a lovely place, join some facebook groups or jump on twitter and play with us. Live tweet your stories!

    2. Closet Introvert*

      Agreed, as an introvert, I’ve been shocked at how hard it’s been – to the point that I now have daily calls with a colleague that used to drive me nuts just to get a sense of normalcy. I never realized how much I needed the extremely limited human interaction I had, even if it was just grocery shopping and work. Someone walked by my house today (I am rural so they were easily 100 feet from me on my porch) and I almost called out to them just to interact with someone besides my kids.

      For what it’s worth, I think AAM has to address this – to go on like it wasn’t impacting every workplace in the world would be really strange at this point. I still need a break, but the reality is that I have about 10 new work-related questions every day that relate to the coronavirus. It might be good to have some questions or threads that are generally about remote work (or hilarious situations that occur because of it). Also, maybe an extra open thread that’s specifically to talk about work-related topics relating to the coronavirus so people can talk about it if they need to but get a break from it on the other open threads as well if desired.

  89. OwlEditor*

    I’m so grateful for my job. They sent us home last Thursday to work from home. The majority of our employees do, but everyone “in office” was sent home. They locked down the building and you have to get permission from your manager to even have badge access to the building.
    I’m so sorry everyone is struggling with stupid employers!
    That said, we here in Utah woke up to a 5.7 magnitude earthquake and several aftershocks this morning. Not fun at all. Did someone steal the Ark of the Covenant or keep the Israelites from leaving? ;)

  90. Unike*

    Does anyone have good language to talk to my boss about having more assistance form my colleagues with handling tasks that usually I handle while we all work remotely? I am having trouble keeping up and am the only one with a small child in my large department. For example, someone is the “backup” or handles the overflow but isn’t picking up much even though I asked her if she could handle more. Having a toddler to take care of while I work presents unique issues.

  91. Lilyp*

    I hope you recover quickly Allison! And thanks for acknowledging the “no virus talk” requests and explaining why it doesn’t work for you/the site, so everyone can know what to expect.

  92. 653-CXK*

    My company has done very well in preparing us in all arenas – I did my first WFH in two years, and it was glorious. It took me a little while to adapt to not having two separate screens like I do at work, but I was able to finagle it by hooking my laptop to my TV using an HDMI cable and using Task View in Windows 10 and separating the buckets of work (e.g. Desktop 1 was spreadsheets and programs, Desktop 2 was email, etc.) I would get two monitors, but for right now, that setup seems to work the best.

    There are some things I can’t do, but for right now, our company is encouraging us to WFH at least three days a week unless/until the state tells us to lock down*. Working at the office two days a week breaks the monotony up – all of the buses in my area are running Saturday schedule but hardly any crowds.

    On a side note, today is my first anniversary at CurrentJob. How ironic that I spent my first anniversary working from home, but that’s what you get with an unpredictable bug like this!

    *People in my state are screaming for our governor for a lockdown, but the governor is (in my opinion, correctly) resisting that urge. Even if there was a lockdown for a few weeks, people would get a very false sense of security once the lockdown is lifted, and figure the virus is gone and won’t affect them – and then the virus strikes very hard and that “flattened curve” was completely artificial, because The Bug has found a more hospitable environment to spread far and wide.

    1. 653-CXK*

      Small change – it’ll be WFH all week until further notice. In a way, it’s good because I can catch up on work without being interrupted, and I have plenty to do anyway.

      And what I was describing yesterday about lockdowns was the rebound effect: when someone takes precaution, then thinks they’re in the clear when the lockdown is lifted, and the virus strikes far harder than expected. Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebound_effect

  93. Retail not Retail*

    Well hell my job is closed but we’re working our schedule until the end of the month when they make an announcement.

    A guest did expose an employee but don’t worry it wasn’t anywhere near us. Um???? We work EVERYWHERE in the park??? Literally????

  94. Timothy (TRiG)*

    We were in the office on Monday. St Patrick’s Day was a holiday, of course, and today was our first WFH day. I could get used to it in time, but I found my concentration tanked in the mid-afternoon. I’m going to need to work on my self-discipline.

    Programmer/web-dev, so WFH is fine. Our clients are mostly small businesses, though, so who knows how things will shake out if this goes on for months? But the roadworks in the town centre are still going ahead, so the world is still happening out there.


  95. Thankful for AAM*

    Surprisingly, my coworkers dont want WFH bc they dont seem to know what it is and think it means work 24 hours a day.

  96. Waving not Drowning (no longer Drowning not Waving)*

    Not US based, and at this stage minimal amounts of people diagnosed with CORVID-19 in our state. I’ve started working from home for the next 2 weeks. Skeleton staff still at work, in individual offices. We’ll reassess in 2 weeks, and swap over staff, unless things escalate here, and we’ll all be working from home. Schools are still open, however, once a confirmed case of person to person contact within our state is confirmed, they will roll over to online studies at home. I’m a permanent staff member, with generous personal leave provision. Our casual staff aren’t so lucky, there is a push to have our employer make some provision for these people.

    To help with the social isolation, we have a morning skype session, 30 minute staff meeting, with the first 10-15 minutes just a coffee and chat (no work talk) session, where we get to show off our dogs/cats/birds etc. Its helping with the isolation of working from home.

  97. Bowserkitty*

    Alison, what about within every coronavirus post you insert a cat tax? (Congratulations on your recent foster failure, by the way! ;) ) I’m thinking fun cat stories AND photos.

    Cat tax is best tax.

  98. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

    My departmental VP decided last week to have us all move to WFH unless authorized to come in for a specific purpose (we do operational stuff aside from the laboratory and production areas, so no one has overall job duties that cannot be done remotely, but some projects require certain in-house aspects to be completed). He wanted to put pressure on the VPN before we were in a situation where the whole org moved to all non-essential in-house folks being remote. We only got a couple days in before the rest of the org followed suit, and today I spent way too much time trying to connect. I’ve move a number of my key work files to OneDrive instead of our network and the majority of non-Office applications I am using for the bulk of my job are web-based instead of network based.

    The biggest issue with me working fully from home is that the rest of the family is also home (community college on Spring Break then canceling next week’s classes, husband and HS-aged son are in distance-learning/teaching mode and therefore not engaged all day, daughter only works part time at a local retailer that is remaining open) and we have an open space kind of house. I have four WebEx meetings tomorrow, so I may have to banish Hubby to the basement so that I don’t have to hear his computer’s speakers or his phone calls about rescheduling his golf trip.

    1. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

      Also, I have been considering getting an immersion blender, but now I’m scared.

  99. Em*

    Thank you for this! I was irked today when our leadership asked what additional work we had planned since it’s likely to be a little quieter than usual… They want us to have “something to show” for this WFH time. To my mind, keeping things running is more than sufficient in this scenario. I felt condescended to, as though we are all seen as slackers, rather than a group of high performing professionals.

  100. Mme de Poppadom*

    As Alison might say “ohhhhh, nooooo….”. So, so sorry to hear about your kitchen injury, non-preferential triage position, trip to germ city, and 19 stitches OMG.
    Here’s to a speedy recovery!
    Thank you for this cautionary tale on robot-maries, as even in my cooking classes no one explained how they might turn on their human overlords and attack!

    Gosh, forgot the topic: oh yeah; my employer noted to all staff how work might not at all be the same as before as everything in the entire supply chain is affected and even government or legal deadlines are being extended. The big boss gave examples of other types of work we could do, and even though we’re all very different, a few of his suggestions were exactly what I’d been planning to work on so he really understands the situation and what are reasonable alternatives.
    Examples include writing SOPs, developing resource materials, cleaning up files, or taking online tutorials that the company provides.

    Trying to see/make this upheaval a blessing.

  101. Anagram*

    My boss has just told us no WFH because 1) not fair to those who can’t do their jobs at home and 2) we won’t be doing any work if allowed to be at home. Bottom line: let everyone get sick if it means that the company won’t collapse in the next two days. This is Japan, the feudalism never went away.

  102. BossyWoman*

    One question. As a disabled person who has asked (as have many friends) for accommodations identical to the ones being used in this emergency, such as work at home, conference calls, adjusted hours, WHY are these so easy to set up now? Why was this not important for people with disabilities? Please do not talk about the ADA, I have 5 friends who were forced to quit jobs because they refused to make accommodations. The AFA has no teeth.

  103. Emily*

    I mangled my hand in an immersion blender a year ago and it remains one of the more traumatizing experiences in recent memory. My heart and nerve endings go out to you, Alison!

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