work and COVID-19: an open thread

This is an open thread for all things related to the intersection of work and COVID-19.

It’s been nearly a month since the first stay-at-home order was issued in the U.S. How are you doing in this weird new reality? What questions do you have? How can other people help?

{ 1,066 comments… read them below }

  1. Hlyssande*

    I’m really struggling to keep up with daily routines and it’s definitely affecting my ability to work. Sleep is not good.

    I don’t have room for a separate office setup in my apartment, so the place I’m working is the same place I’m on my laptop for leisure, which makes it harder to switch on and off to work mode.

    At least my cat is very snuggly.

    1. Amanda*

      I was having this issue. What helped was I started to close every work program when the work part of the day ended, even email, and then shut down the laptop. I then go to my front door, take a step out and then enter again, like I’m just walking home after work. And then I go on to do what I normally would in my leisure time.

      Even if I turn my laptop on 10 minutes after having turned it off, it really helped to separate my “home” time!

      1. Alice*

        I’ve been doing something similar. I have a work bag, so when I end my day the previous evening around work end time, I pack up my laptop into my bag, shut everything down at my desk (which is also my kitchen table), put my work phone on vibrate, and pack up anything else I might have used during the day. I move the bag to the place where I leave it on the floor when I come home from work and then open the door to my bedroom as if I’m coming home from work. (That’s one of the first places I go after work so I can put my shoes back in my closet.) The next morning I reverse the process – shut the door to my bedroom, move my work bag to my work station, unpack everything, and start working the normal time I would work in the morning. It’s obviously not exactly the same, but I think the action of packing up my work bag has helped me shift from work mode to home/leisure mode.

        Hope you figure out something that works, Hlyssande!

        1. Courageous cat*

          I do something like this too. I move my monitor into an area I can’t see it and put my laptop into my bag. I reclaim my dining table – buying fresh flowers whenever I’m at the grocery store to keep there has helped too somehow.

      2. Beth*

        This sounds like one of the best, simplest, most effective end-of-work rituals imaginable. Go you!

    2. juliebulie*

      Yes, I’m surprised how hard it is to keep up a daily routine. I want to rebel! I want to… I’m not sure what I want. But not this.

      And sleep – I don’t understand how I can be so tired, I want to go to bed early, yet my sleep is crap. I think I need exercise, but I’m too tired :-(

      Luckily I do have a separate space to work in, but my kitchen is just outside the doorway (there is no actual door). The kitchen is full of distractions.

      Oddly enough I find it easier to work with the TV on (game shows, reruns, etc that I don’t have to pay attention to). I guess because it somewhat mimics the din of the office?

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Are you me????
        Exactly the same – tired, easily distracted, and required background noise. I have basically turned into a guard dog as well – a noise??? I must go investigate that immediately, oh just the washing machine finishing its cycle, when was the last time I washed the towels? Sheets? Have I change clothes recently? Oh look – a kitty!

        It doesn’t help that things are changing so fast behind the scenes at my place that our boss is hesitant to pass along some work because the directives change every hour or two so I barely have anything to do.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          It doesn’t help that things are changing so fast behind the scenes at my place that our boss is hesitant to pass along some work because the directives change every hour or two so I barely have anything to do.

          OMG do you work where I work? It’s been driving me batty!

        2. Claudia*

          OMG, this is me. I spent 10 minutes yesterday investigating what I thought was two cat meows, only to conclude that it was either a regular squeak noise, or I was hallucinating. I then changed my pants and washed my sheets.

        3. MusicWithRocksIn*

          I can see right out the front window where I’m sitting and I stop and stare every time someone walks by. I feel like that noisy neighbor in Bewitched. But I am starved of seeing people doing things! The other day one of the deer gave me a look like I was creeping them out.

          1. This Old House*

            I have heard more references to Gladys Kravitz in the past 10 days than in the previous 10 years. This is clearly a pretty universal response to isolation. “Is that a real live human being?! I must know more!”

            1. Pomona Sprout*

              Gladys Kravitz was a character on a 60s TVshow, Bewitched, a nosy lady who semed to spend all her time looking out the window to spy on her neighbors.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        You’re anxious! That is how you can be so tired. And it’s really hard. Just don’t beat yourself up for being tired. It sucks, but it’s a normal consequence of uncertainty and anxiety, even when you don’t think you’re anxious.

        No advice– unless you want it– but just some commiseration and some assurance that you’re not weird.

      3. HiringMgr2*

        I like to have the radio on in the background – same concept, I think! I’m trying to re-create office chatter! Maybe burn some popcorn, microwave some fish? haha, kidding. I’m trying to use humor to keep myself afloat, clearly.

        1. pancakes*

          There are lots & lots of long-playing videos on YouTube with these sorts of background sounds – 10 hours of coffee shop sounds, etc. I’ll drop a couple links in a separate reply. I’ve been working from home since last summer and often have one going in the background.

      4. Falling Star*

        Have you considered a tension rod and “curtain” as a door to block your view to the kitchen? If your doorway is wide, you can use a tension shower rod Some of the shower curtains have very nice graphics including outdoor scenes. Obviously a bed sheet you already own is an option. A tension rod will also allow you to adjust it vertically to let in light from the top, or raise it to allow egress for 4-legged coworkers.

        1. juliebulie*

          That’s not a bad idea. I have extra sheets and I can probably relocate one of the rods currently in use.

          1. Kelly AF*

            You could also try Command hooks and a shower curtain (or a sheet with holes cut in it) for a similar temporary solution.

            1. TheOtherJennifer*

              this is a really good idea. We have an office without a door and my husband constantly walks in while i’m on web cons. I could hang a shower curtain there with a big KEEP OUT sign!

              1. Kelly AF*

                No joke, this is absolutely how we have blackout curtains hung over the blinds in our bedroom in our current rental! We put up a bunch of command hooks, then hung them from those. It’s not pretty, but it works.

        2. Alexandra Lynch*

          If you own and can put holes in the walls, I use a wooden closet pole (cut to length) with closet rod holders. The pole fits into one and the other has a cutout to let the pole slip out, and you rotate that slightly to get the pole in and out. Tension poles didn’t work for us because we have a young cat who tried to climb the curtain. It’s a slightly more permanent solution, but you may want that.

          Our four-legged companions figured out how to nose the curtain aside so they could nap in the closet. I have, however, had a cat who was a Cat of Little Brain who would simply cry “Mommy is behind the Wall Of Fabric! I cannot get to Mommy!” when I drew a door curtain. His sister just looked at him and slipped through at the side. So it’s your call.

    3. Nina*

      I want more separation between school and play. It feels a bit like I’m always at work even though I have been working in a designated spot and actually exercising, eating family dinner, cooking fancy things after work – activities that you would think would feel like a break.

    4. Oranges*

      This only applies if you use your laptop for both work and leisure (as I do), but the biggest thing that helped me was making a separate user account on my laptop for work. I have a MacBook and if you check under “Users & Groups” in System Preferences, you can create a whole new user – with their own background, toolbar, files, and all that. It really helps to keep all of my files and bookmarks separate from my leisure account because I’m unable to just click over to Twitter on a whim.

      1. Ama*

        If you have a PC you should be able to do this as well. I also have separate Chrome profiles so I can’t access my “fun” bookmarks easily from work (and also can’t be as easily tempted into “just checking” work email when I’m on my home profile).

    5. Brett*

      Are you allowed to exercise outside where you are?

      I took up running, and started doing my workout right after the workday is done. This has created a nice barrier between work and the rest of my life. Cooking (which might mean eating earlier) is another barrier you can use.

      Another thing that has been really helpful is that we bought another laptop. So now work is done on one laptop and everything else is done on another. When I am done with work, I close the work laptop up and it stays closed. The home laptop has none of my work tools on it: no slacks, no work email, etc. (This is mandated by our security policies anyway, but still something to keep separate if you do this.)

      A second laptop might seem like a luxury, but you might be able to get one for relatively cheap and it could be very worth the sanity it could add to your routine.

      1. Ice and Indigo*

        If you aren’t able to go out running and have limited space, a good routine is to march in the spot, getting your knees as high as you can with each step. Preferably to funny music. I find that ‘Ra Ra Rasputin’ gets me a long way.

        1. Hillary*

          Walk at Home with Leslie Sansone videos are surprisingly good – she has a lot on youtube now (I also have older DVDs).

      2. Alli525*

        To clarify, I don’t think there are ANY rules in the U.S. that mandate you can’t go outside to exercise (provided you observe physical and social distancing). I live in the epicenter of the outbreak and I go out most days for a walk/run at lunchtime, which is completely in line with city and state rules. I wear a bandanna that I’ve folded into a mask, but even that’s not required yet unless the areas where I walk are crowded.

        I’ve been working on my coffee table because I don’t have space for a desk in my tiny apartment… recently I’ve started considering moving it so I can face in another direction while I work, vs where I sit when I watch TV.

        1. Brett*

          It’s not so much directly stay at home rules as it is just safety related. We definitely have neighborhoods here where it is not safe to go running. People there would go to certain parks, school tracks, or gyms to run. But the parks, school tracks, and gyms are all closed by use, so they do not have a safe place to run without taking public transit to another neighborhood.

        2. Eukomos*

          I always sit in a particular seat at my dining table when I eat, so for work I’m sitting on the opposite side of the table. I really do think it helps.

    6. Champagne Cocktail*

      I live in a studio apartment so I understand. Something that has really helped me is having a specific lighting configuration when I am working and another when I am not.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I too live in a studio, and I keep my dimmer lights on during work hours because it illuminates my workspace the way office lights do, and then at the end of the day, I turn that off and turn on my main lamp that illuminates the entire room. It really does make a difference in setting the tone.

      2. Frinkfrink*

        My husband telecommuted for 7 years before his current job, and this is what he did. He turned his overhead light on for work, and used other lighting for non-work activities in his office.

    7. MarketingLady*

      I was struggling with this, until I started going on 45 minute (length of my commute) walks before and after work to reset my brain.
      It keeps me active which is something I needed badly, and my “commute” gets my head ready for the day.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        I do this as well! I always started my commute with a walk of a little over a mile to get to the subway station, and now, I start my morning with a walk about that length. Since I’m not getting out and about much during the day, I take a longer walk in the evening when I’m done with work. It’s really helpful for me to shift mental gears.

      2. Christina*

        I started doing this the second week of stay-at-home orders and it’s made a WORLD of difference in breaking up work time from home time (and also weekdays from weekend). It also helps because I don’t have any good open space to exercise in my place and I just can’t keep looking at the same 4 walls 24/7.

        In 4 weeks, I’ve walked 56 miles! I haven’t skipped a day, even when it was raining or snowing, even if my walk was literally just around the block.

    8. Katrinka*

      I feel out of sorts, too, but I feel guilty about it because I don’t have it as bad as others. I’m still getting a full paycheck. I have a dedicated office space. I’m single, so I don’t have to compromise and deal with also caring for a partner or family. What right do I have to be stressed? (Which isn’t logical, but anxiety never is.)

        1. pamela voorhees*

          It’s also a perfectly rational response to the situation — you don’t have to justify your anxiety by comparing it to other people’s. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic that has the potential to change life as we know it. Of course you feel anxious. There’s no reason to feel guilty. If you can, give yourself permission to feel anxious. It’s better than creating a guilt spiral where you feel anxious, feel guilty, and then feel more anxious because you feel guilty.

      1. Liz*

        I have all that, minus the dedicated office space. and yet i find myself being anxious sometimes for no good reason. I just am. You’re totally allowed to be, the fact you don’t have responsibilities others do doesn’t matter one bit. Its scary, and uncertain. so you’re allowed to feel however you do, without feeling guilty.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        Most of my teammates have kids, so it’s obvious why they’re stressed. I can easily WFH full time, and not having the damned commute is wonderful, and gives me back two hours a day.

        However, I am a worrier by nature. My stress is through the roof. I only have a spouse and roommates, but everyone in my house is high risk.

      3. TechWorker*

        Me too! (RE: stable workable from home job and enough room for a dedicated office space). I am living with my partner but we’re both young and healthy and honestly I think I’d go nuts without social contact so I can’t exactly count that as a negative. I also had to take a few hours out last week to panic cry – as you say anxiety isn’t rational or logical but also – this is a super weird situation. I’m trying to be as sympathetic with myself as I would be with others… it’s a work in progress. Good Luck!

    9. Liz*

      Same. my “office” is my dining room table, which is basically an extension of my living room. So when i’m done, and on the couch,etc. i can still see my “office” i’ve been shutting down my laptop each night, and trying to set a routine. i make my bed each day, get dressed, including a bra, wash my face, and brush my hair, teeth etc. no makeup but that’s ok

      i’ve also been exploring new things to keep me busy in my down time, like audiobooks, which i never really liked, but now love, keeping the tv off, limiting my news watching, and taking walks. sometimes at lunch, sometimes after work.

      i’m actually considering taking tomorrow afternoon “off” even though i can’t realy go anywhere! i do need to grocery shop so i may do that, and then hit the pharmacy for a few things. then come home, and maybe do some chores which I can’t seem to get to after work.

    10. SophieChote*

      Poor sleep, despite knowing I’m as safe as can be.
      Same re: using same space as where I eat, have leisure (watch online), etc.
      Having issues with staying on task, etc.

      Sigh…I guess it’s the new normal

      And we’re all experiencing similar things

    11. Duck Duck Goose*

      I’m in the same boat. I don’t have a home office so my wife and I are just sitting on the couch where we relax and using the coffee table for a shared desk. A way we’ve been trying to combat the work/life switch is shutting everything down and going on a short walk around our complex. It allows us to “come home” in a sense and has definitely helped, although not solved everything.

    12. chocoholic*

      One thing my husband and I have been doing is replacing our commute with a walk around our neighborhood. We go in the morning before we start work and again in the afternoon when we are done. It has helped.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        Oh, this is a great idea! I spent my “morning commute” outside with my dogs but in the afternoon, I end up just working until – or later than – I would normally get home from commuting. :/

    13. MK*

      Same. I’m struggling to stay motivated on my work tasks. Yesterday I took a 2-hour nap at lunch and did about 30 minutes of actual work. I can’t focus and it takes me several days to complete something instead of a few hours (like it would in the office).

      My skin looks/feels like shit too. I haven’t been adhering to my normal skin routine, partly laziness and because I’m not running to the store if I run out.

      Increased grief, depression and anxiety no doubt.

      1. Elenia*

        My sleep patterns are bad. I sleep about 3.5 hours straight, then wake up, then sleep another 3.5 hours. This is obviously affecting everything I do. And now the Pause has been extended I just feel utterly depressed. I gotta clean, that always cheers me up, but I gotta get motivated to clean first. :(

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          I have the worst time getting up in the morning. And for some reason the baby is too? I can wake up fine when the baby is crying, but he’s been sleeping in, so I need to drag my butt out of bed, so I can drag his butt out of bed and get him dressed and fed before I’m supposed to be ‘on’ for the office. Part of it may be that I’ve forgotten how to wake myself up without a crying baby, but I’m a bit weirded out that he doesn’t want to get up either.

          1. allathian*

            How old is he? Babies change so quickly and go through stages. At some point they just learn that they don’t have to wake up and cry, especially if your schedule hasn’t really changed and you need to wake him up. Some babies wake up very early until they’re about 8-10 months or so, but after that their sleep pattern changes and they’ll sleep longer if they can. It happens about the same time that they switch from three naps to two or two naps to one. Or at least it did for my son, YMMV.

      2. ThisPersonIsTyping*

        trouble sleeping and concentrating, being easily irritated and being sensitive to noise when you weren’t before – these are all sings of depression (ask me how I know…).
        These are real things. They’re not just “in your head”. So sorry to anyone experiencing it, it’s definitely not easy. Be gentle with yourself.
        For anyone who wants advice: If you can, do something that takes your mind off the anxiety-inducing situation. Create art, listen to music, move around… chose the easiest version of anything. For example you may not have the energy for a one-hour zumba class but maybe you can do a 20-min-stretching. or even a 5 min one. Just lower the bar for yourself for everything. We’re all doing the best we can.

    14. Princess Deviant*

      There is comfort for me in knowing that others are having the same difficulties as I am, but yes it’s so very hard! I suppose the advice I’d give to you, which would also apply to me but which is hard to do!, is to be kind to yourself and acknowledge that the times are unknown so we can’t know how we are going to react to the unknown until it happens. We can cut ourselves some slack and cuddle our cats.
      And maybe eat chocolate? :)

    15. Curmudgeon in California*

      I actually use a different computer, in a different room, than the one I play games and read email on.

      My “commute” is from my bedroom to my work area. I do have to remember to activate my screen saver at the end of the day, get up and go into a different room for a few minutes to “end” my workday.

      The sleep thing, though…

      I already had insomnia. The insomnia is aggravated by stress. The stress from my roomie getting restless and always wanting to go out shopping is spreading to me and my wife. Sleep, what’s that?? If I get 6 hours a night I’m doing good. My body wants 8 or 9. Naps have entered my lifestyle.

    16. Stacey Rebecca*

      This is the exact same issue I was dealing with- impossible to switch gears psychologically when I tried to do work from my comfy couch spot.

      I ended up buying a $10 wooden folding tv tray from target and setting it up in front of a chair off to the side of my living room. When I sit in that chair, I’m at my “desk” and can get my head in the game.

    17. Quill*

      What I would give for a cat or a dog right now.

      My only company is podcasts and stuffed animals. My mother is campaigning for me to come cross country to live with them for the duration of this, some sort of nesting instinct I think.

      Fortunately I have a personal laptop so I just pack up the work one at the end of the day…

    18. Bethany*

      I’ve been going for a walk as soon as I finish working – though of course this is dependent on whether walks are allowed where you live.

  2. Legally a Vacuum*

    My productivity is really down-the expectation that I’m always available (because what else am I doing?) just sucks the motivation right out of me

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Same. I didn’t realize that WFH meant WFH 24/7.

      I really have no desire/motivation to do anything other than job search.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I’m actually doing less off-hours than when I worked at the office. I used to work in the office, come home, do some household things, and hop back on my laptop. After all day in my home office and having the family around “not disturbing” me, I don’t have motivation or much ability to go back to work later in the evening. My family used to be scattered at night, but now they’re home and tired of being ignored. It’s the only way I can stay somewhat sane, and I am sorry for those working with people who won’t allow any boundaries or down time now.

        1. RegBarclay*

          I don’t have family living with me, but back in Before Times I used to take a break at five pm for a couple of hours to run errands, drive home and eat. Then I’d log back in all refreshed and power through a few more hours of work. Without that break and change of scene my second wind just isn’t there anymore.

    2. Amanda*

      But you’re not always available, and if your company expects you to be, they’re asshats.
      You should try to keep to the normal hours you would have in the office, and when that’s done just close everything work related. Go read a book, or play video games, or zoom with family and friends, whatever.
      Virtual happy hours help too, and not just with coworkers, but friends too. I had virtual dinner with a bunch of friends last Monday, and it went great!

      1. Legally a Vacuum*

        The problem is that we’ve always occasionally had to put in late hours- nothing unexpected for a lot of people who are non-exempt.

        Right now a lot of people on different projects are assuming I have some time after hours- maybe only once every 2 weeks or so. But if I’m on 10 different projects, that’s a lot of people who expect availability. And it’s not like at the office where it’s clear I’m staying late multiple days in a row.

        Going to my boss is fine, but he doesn’t control my workflow, and my ability to push back when my great-grandboss specifically asks me to work on a project is limited.

        1. Quinalla*

          Yup, I hear you, I’ve been pushing back on this myself, saying that expecting people to work more than 40 hours right now is for most not possible. Even those in the most ideal set up are still stressed and having to deal with so much they normally wouldn’t – add kids on top of that or someone else you are taking care of, health issues, anything breaking, etc. ugh! I can barely squeeze in 40 right now without working weekends and I flat out refuse, they are the only thing keeping me sane. I’ve been asking for more help and ruthlessly prioritizing on things that are due today vs. due later.

    3. Another name*

      I agree, I started off being more productive, when I first started teleworking 4 weeks ago, but my management’s push to accelerate projects because we all supposedly have more time and availability to work on them now is really sucking the motivation out of me.

      I am grieving for my “normal” life and fearing for the life of my loved ones who work in health care, and that takes energy too – I am not a work bot!

      1. Chili*

        Yes! My company had us do some “emergency work” right when things started to get serious with COVID-19 in our area and people started working from home. I didn’t mind doing some work outside normal hours for 2 weeks, especially since I could understood the justification of that tighter-than-normal timeline, but now, on week 4, they are still trying to push us on “new emergency projects” that really are just regular work on accelerated timelines because they realized we could do things much faster and it’s just unsustainable. I want to have time to do my hobbies!

        1. Another name*

          Exactly – it was one thing to push to get urgent tasks completed and everyone who was able to settled in to work from home the first couple of weeks – that was understandable. But now the managers are beating the bushes to flush out projects that dropped off the radar, sometimes for good reason, so they can whip them across the finish line.

          At least that’s how it looks when I insist on logging out at my regular time, and log back in every morning to read all the after hours emails and find that I’m already waaaay behind.

        2. Quill*

          Everything was an emergency the first two weeks, and now all the emergencies are me saying “Yes I’m aware of that going on, no, nothing will happen until the plague is over, please just set yourself an auto reminder to blast that at me some time in June or July when I have answers.”

    4. Goodbye Toby*

      Yeah our office keeps beating the drum that we all need to have a “work first” mentality and don’t seem to see the issue with that at all. They want us to be working and producing more than ever before, at the same time they cut our salaries and keep threatening our jobs under their breath. It is incredibly demotivating and quietly all of us are discussing how we are burnt out and done. I know we’re fortunate to have a job but oi.

      1. sofar*

        I’ve been joking to my husband that, when our company says, “We are going to be flexible and understand that everyone may not be working at 100%,” they clearly ACTUALLY mean, “We expect 150% right now.”

    5. Frinkfrink*

      My day job doesn’t expect me to be available outside of my posted hours, but I have a side gig in graphic design and all of THOSE clients are expecting me to be just as productive as ever. I even had one start an email with “Since you’re not commuting now and have more time…” At least that one took “No, I’m already overbooked” as an answer.

    6. Bree*

      Having this issue too – and I work in the health sector, so my ability to push back without looking like a jerk is super limited.

      1. Kitrona*

        If you burn out, you can’t do *any* work for them. Maybe that’s a tack you can take?

    7. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      I am getting a bit disheartened by seeing messages from colleagues at times like 7pm asking about implementation details of things, “should we do it this way or that way” etc that are really just part of ongoing project work — we do have deadlines for the project, but these questions aren’t urgent or time-sensitive as such.

      Then a conversation will start up in the group chat with people offering their opinion of what to do and why, responding to other people’s opinions with positive feedback or with why it won’t work as the case may be… and then there is an ongoing debate. The team I’m working with is quite “conflict comfortable” so it’s normal to have these kinds of debates but I don’t want to get into them at 7pm!

      It’s like the boundaries have gotten blurred between work life and home life with these people… and I can understand that, but am quite good at drawing boundaries myself so I’m passively aware that this is happening (because the group chat app is running in the background and pops things up) but I don’t actively engage or reply unless it is truly something time sensitive which has happened once over the last few months (the nature of this project is that it is long-term, we aren’t directly in the “line of fire” from clients or anything like that).

  3. annakarina1*

    I’ve been OK, but missing the community of my office space. I miss the casual social vibe of it. I’ve been able to do most of my work from my home laptop, but it doesn’t feel natural to just be home all the time working, I prefer office life. I’m lucky to be safe and to have my job, but I miss my co-workers and our friendly conversations, we just now only talk on Slack about work.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      This. This is why I’m video chatting with coworkers, even if I don’t need to check in with them. I figure it’s pretty much the same as stopping by their office to chat for a few minutes, and if that was OK when we were in the office, it should be OK now. If anything, it’s actually needed more now.

    2. Megumin*

      Same, I always preferred working at home most of the week (not all, but most), but now I really miss my coworkers and being on campus. Although I think my previous job was the main reason I wanted to work from home – it was a super toxic environment and I just couldn’t stand being around most of those people, so I worked from home as much as I was allowed. Now that I have a much better job and team, I like being at the office.

    3. Herding Butterflies*

      This. I work at in incubator / start-up space and it’s just me in my office – so I work alone anyway – but I really miss my office!

    4. Another Chris*

      At this point I would pay money to sit in a room full of strangers and not talk to any of them, just to be around some different company in a different place.

    5. GRA*

      Yes! While I am so very grateful to be able to work from home, this experience has taught me that I DO NOT like working from home … I miss people and the office environment soooooo much!!

    6. BethDH*

      Agreed. I’ve realized I am a particular type of social — I don’t want to have events with work people much and I don’t even really miss events with close friends much. But I really miss those short casual conversations that just happen with friends/colleagues/neighbors.

    7. Aquawoman*

      Would it work for you to set up some coffee breaks on video chat? I have a video team meeting with my reports every week. It usually lasts 50-60 minutes and is 90% chat and 10% work issues.

    8. Academic admin*

      I am in my university admin office with just a handful of other people. It’s safe but there are no students. They are the best part of my job and I miss them! And there is talk that we may still be distant Ed in the fall. We are going feral here. There are comfy chairs on the balcony, tomato plants in the lobby and I plan to wear my fuzzy kitty slippers tomorrow.

      1. kiri*

        I work in an academic library – I miss the students SO much!! It’s so much easier to remember why we do what we do when I get to see students, chat with them about how things are going or help them figure something out. Easily the best part of my job! Here’s hoping we get to go back in the fall!

    9. Saaam*

      I really miss office life too. Our Slack channels used to be full or random articles and jokes, but now they’re dead silent and the only thing people message about is work. I don’t understand it. I miss random short conversations walking past people. I miss being in the presence of others and hearing background chatter.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        That, at least, is not our problem on Slack. We have a remote work channel, as well as a “random” channel, a “#hashtag-dad-jokes” channel, and a “punitentiary” channel. Those of us who want it get our quota of humorous memes, puns, and dad jokes. We even have an RSS feed of XKCD piped into our “random” channel.

        I wish we had a “rant” channel, but that’s not in our “go along to get along” culture.

        But we are leveraging Slack pretty well as our virtual announcement board and watercooler.

    10. an actual doctor*

      I’m an essential worker (see name) and need to be onsite. However, a lot of my normal day-to-day co-workers are now working from home. On top of that, I’m seeing patients virtually to try to decrease their exposure risks. I’m very extroverted, and the lack of IRL people contact (even though I’m still going to work) is making me exhausted!

    11. TheOtherJennifer*

      I had a co worker video con me today just to tell me he missed me giving him shit in real life. So that was cool. Hang in there!

    12. Anon for this*

      Try starting a social Slack channel. We have a “water cooler” chat which we use to share pet photos, talk about our families, or chat about pop culture like Tiger King, Animal Crossing, etc. It’s a great outlet to keep up the social team dynamics. And keep work out of it :)

  4. Beancat*

    As of this morning I’m officially furloughed. I was asked by a doctor to stay home two extra weeks after a coworker tested positive for COVID-19 and was due to return next week. Now we’re furloughed and I’m trying to pick myself back up.

    I would probably be a lot worse off if I didn’t have my husband and kittens here. I feel lucky in that sense. I think we’ll pull through okay, but I’m also definitely a bit off kilter.

  5. WhatDayIsIt*

    I work in a hard hit industry (think tourism), but we’re finally setting into long term projects at our work and our superiors are trying to protect our jobs with the higher ups. But watching other people loose work in our field has been tough and nerve-wracking as the lowest-ranking employee in my unit. It’s hard to figure out how concerned I should be.

    I also find myself worrying a lot about over-communicating – how much should I talk to my coworkers? Am I overbearing with my questions / new project ideas?

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Long term projects are things that presumably the company wants to have in order to be “competitive”, but probably doesn’t have the time for most of the time.

      Do you think you have a “visionary” management who see this as the chance to turn it into an opportunity to redirect people to work on things that will put you ahead of the game when things get back to somewhat normal? I worry that you say your “superiors are trying to protect your jobs with the higher ups” so perhaps not… but ultimately the higher ups haven’t made the decision to furlough or lay off people yet, which I would think it’s likely they could be talking about that by now if it was going to happen.

      Whether you are being ‘overbearing’ with new project ideas depends on whose initiative it was that you are “finally settling into long term projects” — has that come from ‘above’ or have you all just taken initiative to work on those. In any case I think proposing concrete things you can work on to put the company in a better place is likely to be appreciated, if they are realistic ideas.

  6. BigSigh*

    I think, at this point, I’m as adjusted as I’m going to get. I can tell the only way I’m not going stir crazy is because I’m lucky enough to be able to set up a work space outside my bedroom.

    I feel closer than ever to not just with the team I shared a physical office with, but the company globally thanks to the virtual meetings. I see their faces more than I used to and am lucky enough to see their families and homes.

    1. Bostonian*

      I agree with the second part. My team has always had remote workers, but now that *everyone* is “remote”, we’re doing a lot more to stay connected, and it has allowed our team to get closer as a whole.

      I really hope that once we’re eventually back in the office that we still utilize the tools that keep us all connected.

  7. CatCat*

    Working 100% from home is not my jam. Maybe if I planned for it, had dedicated space for it, and didn’t live in an urban area, I would dig it. But because I don’t, I hate it. It’s getting harder to concentrate on work the longer this drags out for me for some reason.

    1. East Coast Girl*

      I am commenting with you in solidarity on this one. Very grateful to have a job that can be done from home right now, when so many people do not. And I thoroughly enjoyed the option to WFH one day per week pre-Covid. Those were incredibly productive days and felt like a treat.

      But I am now on week five full time WFH and have learned the valuable lesson that doing it 100% of the time isn’t for me. Focus and productivity, which are normally two big benefits to WFH, are hitting new lows.

      Also, partner works night shifts so I have a lot of alone time right now. I addressed the cat as “Mr. McSniffs” last night. Isolation may be getting to me…

      1. allathian*

        I hear you. The most I worked from home pre-COVID was 3 days in a row, and that was very rare. I usually worked from home about 2-5 days per month. I’m finding it much harder to focus on work now.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That’s the thing– I planned for it, budgeted for it, rented a particular space knowing I would be doing it. So I’m ok. But most people didn’t get a chance to do those things and it’s not exactly easy to make adjustments on the fly if, say, you live in a studio without space for a table. It drives me nuts when people are like, “Make sure you have a good desk chair!” and I’m all, “But the desk chair wasn’t in the budget, where should it come from?”

      1. CatCat*

        I have put in a request to be able to go into work to take the desk chair and foot rest from my office. My chair at home is fine for short-term sitting, but it’s getting intolerable sitting in it all day.

      2. Jackalope*

        Not to mention my issue which is that I can’t buy a chair online (funny height so I want to make sure that it’s the right size) and all the furniture stores are closed so how exactly am I supposed to obtain this mythological chair?

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          Yea, it’s not like we can go out browsing for a good chair right now. And its one of those things I would prefer to try out myself.

          1. Kat in VA*

            This is so me. I have a Serta office chair that, by all rights, should be incredibly comfortable. It’s leather and upholstered and padded and has adjustments and…I hate it. It’s so uncomfortable. Even in a 30m meeting, I’m shifting every few minutes because *this* way makes my back hurt and *that* way makes my butt hurt.

            I even bought a gel cushion from Amazon (and waited over 2 weeks for it to get here, because that’s how things are right now, and I’m OK with that) and the cushion improved things by…maybe 10%.

            Whatever office chair I buy when this is all over – for future WFH endeavors – will be one that my butt has personally sat in for at least ten minutes to make sure it’s good.

      3. Exhausted Trope*

        I am 100% WFH now and was pitifully unprepared. My old task chair thrifted eons ago was giving me all the pain. Couldn’t afford a decent desk chair. But I did find a gaming chair for under $100 on Amazon. And it has massage. So thankful for a chair that actually supports my back!

    3. Liz*

      Yes! I’ve never had any desire to WFH but was grateful if the weather was bad etc. i had the option to do so. I’m not in an urban area, but am still going a bit crazy, finding it hard to concentrate etc. I’m grateful i still have a job, and probably will, but its still tough.

    4. Jellyfish*

      Same! In theory, WFH sounds great. In practice, I’m at a card table set up in my bedroom, and my building isn’t well located to allow leisurely outside walks at lunchtime. Some days I do fine, and other days, my brain just isn’t firing.

    5. Ray Gillette*

      Having so many people in close proximity due to urban living is definitely making it harder for me to concentrate. My upstairs neighbor is sick and I can hear her coughing constantly, another neighbor has lost all sense of time and plays loud music at weird hours, and the homeowner next door is coping with the boredom by mowing his lawn four times a week – my window opens right into his yard, so I can’t have the window open when he’s mowing.

      1. JustaTech*

        So many of my neighbors have been doing yard work it’s amazing. I get that they’re probably bored/stressed, but it’s weird to all the sudden have everyone mowing and weed-whacking and whatnot.

        Probably also a spring thing, and I just haven’t been home to notice, too.

    6. chocoholic*

      I don’t care for it either. I’m sharing my dining room table with 2 teenagers who are doing online school, one of which needs a fair amount of oversight from me, else he’d be playing minecraft all day. Sigh.

      I’ve been going into my office every other Monday to process the payroll, and I have enjoyed getting out of the house for a day. This week I was there and there was no heat at the office so it was less enjoyable. I at least did have a space heater in my office that I was able to use, but every time I left to use the bathroom, it was like a 20 degree temperature drop.

      1. Kitrona*

        I just read a news article about how the next county over from me is handling school for the rest of the school year, and it’s brilliant. Elementary and middle school up to 8th grade is pass/fail, with no new material from yesterday on. High school students can take the grade they have at the end of this week, or they can bring their grade up by submitting more work. All grades are accepting work and redone homework through May 22, but the schools are effectively saying, “Ok, we know y’all are having trouble, and we are too, so you don’t have to stress any more.”

    7. Quill*

      Yeah, my brain feels like scrambled eggs most days.

      At least I’m still the champion of “beating excel into an obedient pulp.”

    8. Oxford Comma*

      In ordinary circumstances, I get to WFH at least once a week. I have a dedicated office. I live in an okay area.

      Normal WFH meant that I got to sleep in a little late because I had no commute. It meant that I could spend the day working with few interruptions on a couple of projects. It meant I could go to a coffee shop and work there. It might mean I got time to walk to a neighborhood restaurant and treat myself to a nice lunch. It meant I had some time to recharge and slog through work that was hard to do in the office because you need a way to focus.

      This is not normal WFH. This is hell. I’m just trying to make it less hellish.

    9. onebitcpu*

      I’ve been working from home since March 13.
      In the past few days I have started playing mythbusters on a screen beside me, just to break the quiet with something other than music.
      It’s not quite the background noise of the office, but it seems to help.

  8. Regina Phalange*

    Is it terrible that I have settled into this “new normal” and don’t seem to be experiencing the cabin fever that a lot of my colleagues are?

    1. Dasein9*

      Nope. Not terrible.

      I wanted to become a remote worker entirely, myself. One big reason was to have time for friends, not . . . this! Still, in many ways I’m thriving and that’s causing some guilt.

      1. French Pressed*

        My partner and I completely filled our ambitious emergency fund savings goal this month, and we’re both gainfully employed without serious concerns about job security. There’s a strange sense of guilt about feeling newly financially secure and happy about our money situation in a time like this – having grown up below the poverty line, I explained it to a friend in a similar situation as “poverty survivors guilt”

        1. Dasein9*

          YES! A few years ago, I experienced a career-destroying layoff. It really does create aftershocks years later.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Me as well. The stimulus that came in yesterday has finally pushed me over my goal.

          Of course, now is also the time when everything in my house has started breaking down and needing costly repairs/replacement. Hopefully I can still hang on to my emergency fund.

          1. French Pressed*

            The stimulus check is what bumped us up as well. We were on track to meet our goal last year but then our shared car broke down and we had to buy a new(to-us) one since we were in the middle of a protracted multi-state move and were shuttling belongings back and forth. A very stressful time. Buying a used car outright and moving impacted our savings quite a bit and I felt guilty about it (it was my job that moved us, and that move that broke down the car) but my partner very calmly reminded me that these were exactly the sort of situations we were saving for. If you’ve built yourself that net, don’t feel bad about having to use it!

        3. MA marketing assistant*

          Same here. I just got a new job in a secure industry and it pays 4x as much as I’ve been making. (It pays well, but not extravagantly, for what it is.) I love working from home. I feel secure in my job (essential industry) and I’m ready to pay off some debt and start investing while the stock market is down. I feel guilty about this optimism and I’ve been donating money to orgs but mostly directly to individuals in order to offset that, but by and large I’m doing quite well for the first time in my life.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Yaay! Enjoy your successes. If someone does better for themselves, that means this sh!t-show isn’t all bad.

      2. Anax*

        Yeah, that’s where I’m at. I love working remotely, but being cooped up in my apartment for 8 weeks and counting… that’s what’s driving me a little batty. I really pine to be outdoors, seeing friends, maybe a museum – not the office, which can be fun but is exhausting for me at the best of times.

        Part is that I’m JUST getting over respiratory illness and an asthma flare, so I haven’t been able to go out at all, even for brief walks – folding laundry had me panting for air – and I still can’t wear masks, so things are… limited.

        I’m dying for some vitamin D.

    2. Midwest writer*

      I expected to feel a lot more cabin fever than I actually have. Most weekends, we were on the road, driving 2-3 hours to hit a museum, restaurants, Costco shopping, something like that. We haven’t done that in a month and I … have enjoyed the quiet times at my house way more than I anticipated.

    3. Bostonian*

      Nope. Everyone adjusts differently, and sometimes our feelings about it change over time- as I learned the hard way last week when I went from “everything is fine” to “I am losing my damn mind”. I’m a little jealous of your ability to feel “settled”, but I’m hopeful that I’ll get there soon.

      1. MayLou*

        I’ve also gone from “fine” to “losing my mind” a bit lately. At first it was great. No commute! More people wanting to socialise via video! Lots of introvert time! But I have very little work, I’m very aware that my colleagues are snowed under with work and are also trying to care for small children, and I’m not able to take some of their work off their hands for various reasons. So I’m bored and feeling guilty at being unproductive. And I’m lonely. I miss hugs. I can’t imagine how we are going to cope if this carries on for months (UK lockdown was just extended for another three weeks) but also can’tssee how we can stop any time soon.

        To be more practical, the things I’ve found helpful have been very granular to do lists to keep myself on task and motivated, using a coworking room (I use Complice but I’m sure there are others) and interspersing work-work with small achievable household tasks. Somehow having successfully vacuumed the hallway gets the ball rolling for me to also successfully make a work call or whatever. Otherwise I never get going in the morning and we reach lunchtime before I’ve done more than maybe an hour of actual work.

    4. French Pressed*

      I’ve never dreaded office life the way my full-time WFH partner did, but I have also discovered that I don’t really miss it all either. And I’m fortunate to live near urban greenspaces with hiking trails that I use every morning before people are out to get my daily fix of “out of the house” – so I’m in a similar boat. Aside from the general societal stress, I’m feeling fine about everything. No rush to go back to work personally, other than a worry for my colleagues who are getting furloughed until we do.

      1. JJG*

        I was typing out a reply and then saw this one which matched my own situation and feelings exactly. So +1 to French Pressed.

    5. londonedit*

      Not at all, I’ve mainly settled in too. I don’t have a partner or children living with me, so I guess some people would say I’m lucky not to be juggling childcare as well as work. I’ve been working from home for a full month now and it’s very easy for me to do so – I have a work laptop and it’s just like being in the office, except that I can’t print things and I’m not seeing my colleagues every day. So maybe I’m just lucky all round. I am finding it harder to fill my evenings and weekends – I’m really missing seeing my partner and my family and the thought of doing another three weeks at least (which the UK government is expected to announce today) is really hard. But in terms of working from home, no, I’m not getting cabin fever because of that.

      1. Quill*

        I was doing great until this week, when the fact that I’m not an introvert, I’m an extrovert with a fear of people, reared its ugly head.

        I’ve been fantasizing about driving cross country to borrow some cats off one of my oldest friends (She has a whole colony after adopting a pregnant stray and keeping the kittens.)

    6. Blueberry*

      It’s not like other people will suffer less if you’re unhappy as well. I’m glad this is working well for you! That’s the opposite of terrible!

      1. Trachea Aurelia Belaroth*

        This is a sentiment that would be helpful for me in normal times, when I’m dealing with anxiety. My brain tries to justify relaxing by making sure there’s nothing I SHOULD be worrying about–and of ourselves it always finds something. It takes a while to remind myself that worrying doesn’t solve anything. Do what you can, plan what you can, but then you have to just wait and see what happens.

        Weirdly, I’m more able to be philosophical right now than during anxiety periods, when there’s really something troubling happening.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Lots of people thrive in remote settings.

      Just because a lot of the vocal crowd is saying they’re miserable, doesn’t mean anyone is terrible for not minding it and not having cabin fever.

      My only issue is that I don’t like being “told” much of anything. So being mandated to change is a different aspect to the psychological issue on my end. But I don’t regularly leave and can work from the moon if they told me to try it out.

      I’m different than a lot of people too in the sense that I don’t care where I am, city/area wise. I moved to follow my partner and the whole “Did you check out the city? Make sure you like it first!” advice was met with “Lol nah it’ll be fine.” and I just found whatever affordable apartment was available when I got my job offer, I didn’t bother checking the area out. Duncur.

      We’re all very different creatures and that’s a good thing :)

    8. KayDeeAye*

      I have also settled in much more easily than I expected. Pre-COVID-19, I rarely worked from home and when I did, I had some difficulty keeping focused. But now – maybe because I have to be focused? because if I’m not, I can’t tell myself “I’ll catch up when I get back to the office tomorrow”? – I am finding my focus to be very similar as it was when I was in an office 5 days/week.

      And I don’t miss the commute at ALL. That’s an hour and a half of my life that I’ve gotten back! I miss seeing coworkers (most of them, anyway :-) ), and I miss going out to lunch/dinner, and I miss a few other things, too. But you know, home is good.

      1. Elenna*

        SAME. I had a 1.5 hour commute each way (was planning on looking for a condo near my work before all this started), and I’m 100% delighted to have those three hours a day back.

        1. miho*

          SAME. When I was making that daily 3 hour (roundtrip) daily commute, I always sucked it up and told myself that’s just the way it is. Whenever coworkers talked to me about my awful commute, I would just force a smile and say it’s not that bad – I have time to read and do other things on the train.

          But man, now that I don’t have that commute anyway, it really is freeing! It’s incredible how much I love staying at home.

      2. londonedit*

        I think that’s it. I was freelance for a few years, and worked almost exclusively at home, and back then people would always ask me how I could manage it, didn’t I get distracted, wasn’t it tempting to just sit around in my pyjamas, etc. But it’s very different when working from home is your bread and butter. If I didn’t do the work, I didn’t earn any money, and strangely enough that was quite good as motivation! And it’s the same now – I have to work from home or I’ll lose my job and I won’t have any money.

    9. Amanda*

      No, you’re fine! Don’t feel guilty for being ok!

      I had a short adaption period, and now I’m pretty settled too and mostly comfortable in our new reality. Do I miss things? Sure, very much, but it doesn’t seem to affect my mental health as much as with some friends and coworkers.

    10. Elenna*

      Yeah, I’m… honestly fine? I felt a bit of cabin fever a couple weeks ago after about three weeks of not going out (I started self-isolating about 1.5 weeks before most people because of possibly being near a confirmed case, plus I’d been working from home for about a week before that for unrelated reasons) but I’ve started going jogging every few days and that’s gone away. Also I’m one of those people who’s like “quarantine? who cares, I never want to leave the house anyways” so that helps. Plus I’ve been super lucky in that almost everyone I care for is both physically and financially okay. And between work, craft projects, and youtube/twitch I haven’t been bored at all.

    11. AndersonDarling*

      I don’t want to go back to working in an office. I’m able to make better use of my time from home. I’m in a support role and WFH makes my colleagues really think before calling/emailing, so communications are more thoughtful and less time is being wasted spinning wheels.
      I’m loosing weight because I have more time to eat healthy, I get more sleep, my house is clean, and I’m less stressed.

    12. High School Teacher*

      I think it varies for everyone! My friend normally WFH’ed once a week, and she is THRIVING now. She hopes to go full-time WFH.

    13. Lora*

      Nope. I actually LOVE it and am much more productive.

      In the cursed Open Office, people decide they are free to interrupt and chat with the one woman in the office the live-long day. I spend a solid half my friggin day, every day I am in the actual office, listening to people talk about their personal lives as long as I can stand and then saying nicely, OK I need to go to a meeting / work on project deadline soooo… A significant part of my job consists of Being Approachable, and if I tell them politely, “sorry, I’m working on this and don’t have time to chat today” that is viewed as Rude (see: one woman in the whole office full of grumpy older men).

      Last time I had a huge project that needed all my attention and a couple of people (a contractor and an employee in another department whom I had previously helped a LOT with her job) approached me to chat about nothing much, and I replied, “Sorry I really don’t have time this week, I’m overloaded with this one project, so unless it’s about Project I just don’t have a minute to spare,” it did NOT go well. The contractor was pissy and walked across the building to find another woman to talk to, stood over her shoulder and stared at her for several minutes and made her generally uncomfortable, and eventually had to be told never to return to the site. The employee complained that I wasn’t helping her enough (I had been doing her ENTIRE JOB for weeks! She couldn’t answer ONE stupid client question by herself while I worked on a different project?!? Or asked one of the several men also working on her project?? The answer she needed was smack in the middle of the spreadsheet I’d made for her, highlighted in purple!) and I was rude to her and she filed an official complaint with HR and my boss that I was mean. So, I get scolded for not being Approachable if I don’t let people waste four hours of my day.

      Now there is a slight barrier to them pestering me. They have to IM me, of which a record is made, or otherwise put their requests in writing, and the time is officially noted and charged to their department. They cannot casually drop by for a quick chat and not get their budget dinged $200 for my time. They have to schedule a meeting if they want a significant portion of my time.

      I get so much more done. I have big blocks of uninterrupted time for coding, checking complex calculations, writing up formal reports…I get in the flow of the work much more easily and just churn it out. It’s GREAT. My boss was under the impression that it was only a few people who do this to me daily, and once I was off projects with those few people everything would be better – and now is learning that it is not just those couple of guys, it’s really so many people I have zero control over my time and it’s a serious impact on productivity and work quality.

      Best of all, our IT system had some sort of horrible automatic save/update thing that was interfering with the function of a $25,000/year software package I need to use every day. I literally could not use this software for YEARS even though we paid $25,000/year for the license, because they had this update thing that prevented file transfers and auto-saved all the time, causing the huge files to crash when the auto-save file location filled up with information, which took about 30 minutes. When I’m working from home, if I disable the VPN and don’t connect to the internet at all, I can run the software perfectly! I can’t disable the WiFi connection at work though, it throws some sort of security exception so I can’t disable my connection to the network unless I’m at home. I can finally use the software as it’s intended to work, and it doesn’t crash! Oh. My. God. It’s a game changer!

      1. mf*

        I’m glad your boss is finally coming to understand how little control you have over your time when you’re in the office. I hope you continue to talk to him/her about this. I’ve worked in a bunch of support roles and while it is important to be approachable, that’s not the same thing as being at everyone’s disposal 100% of the time. You need to be able to put boundaries around your time without being scolded by HR for it.

      2. Jackalope*

        I hope this will make your boss aware and willing to let you set boundaries when you’re back in the office, but if not…. Is there a way when you get back that you can document how much time people are wasting coming by to chat and how much time you’re spending getting the software to work? That might help make things more quantifiable for your boss (and if you start billing other depts for your time maybe they will visit less?).

        1. Lora*

          That’s the crazy-making part for me: I was documenting and showing him, look, it is seriously 4 hours per day every friggin day, this is untenable, I need more than one or two work-from-home days per week in order to do my job properly. And he didn’t believe me. He just somehow assumed I was fibbing or exaggerating and it just could not possibly be that bad, that it was just me making excuses for being a slacker or just not very good at my job – he normally sits in a different building from me, so he really never sees this for himself. We were just re-org’ed a few months ago so he didn’t really know me either, just got stuck with me. But now with the difference in work capacity and quality, and the IM records on MS Teams and Skype and Zoom meeting requests, he is starting to believe it.

          1. allathian*

            Maybe the enforced WFH will open his eyes and you’ll be able to 100% WFH permanently since you’re so much more productive? You can only ask.

    14. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I’m fine too (other than being terrified of going outside I guess). Heck, this lockdown/SIP might’ve ruined me for office jobs forever. I will be looking for a remote job (and likely not finding one) for the rest of my career.

      Like one of the commenters above, I used to go out, get together with friends, go to cultural events, meetup events, parties etc, a lot, and oddly I don’t miss that. I am starting to feel that there was a lot of fluff in my life (in form of both people and events that I attended) that was getting in the way of me doing the things, and interacting with the people, that mattered. I see a lot of decluttering in my post-covid future. A lot of social contacts and obligations will need to go, for they do not spark joy.

    15. Ama*

      I realized last night that this is the fourth consecutive March/April I have had to deal with some kind of extra complicating factor, either personally or professionally (some years, both) so in just my day-to-day this is not really much different than my last three springs where I just have to suddenly scramble in the face of an unexpected obstacle. In fact it might be a little easier because I can work from home AND everyone else is also dealing with this, as in previous years the issues were often something only me or only my small department were dealing with.

      And I am definitely going to have to talk with my boss about the possibility of taking more regular work from home days (by coincidence I was actually seriously thinking about it before all this happened, but was waiting to get past what turned out to be the last work trip I will take for the foreseeable future).

    16. RabbitRabbit*

      I don’t think so. I’m fine. Though I feel bad – I’m kind of itching for my husband to get his self-quarantine over so I can have my solo workspace back again … but then he has to go back to the office and risk more exposure. So, I’m not too fond of that part.

    17. periwinkle*

      It’s weird. I’ve been telecommuting 90% of the time for nearly two years so 100% isn’t a big change. My team is experienced at virtual meetings because we’re scattered across multiple facilities and time zones. I have a dedicated home office. I’m an introvert who is perfectly happy being alone for large chunks of time.

      I am nevertheless approaching cabin fever mode. The difference could be that my current isolation isn’t voluntary? It doesn’t help that I was supposed to fly off on vacation this weekend – down to LA to spend a day riding roller coasters and then onto a cruise ship to relax on my balcony and sip cocktails with juvenile names.

    18. Aquawoman*

      While I miss some stuff about the office, there have been some real upsides for me in WFH full time. I realize just how much of an accumulation of minor stressors I have. I’m an introvert and I have sensory processing disorder, and it’s just been nice not to be pecked to death by sensory ducks all day (e.g. bras–those MFs are uncomfortable! I just sort of squish that into background noise on a daily basis but when there are 12 such things every day, it adds up and not having that is nice).

    19. alienor*

      I don’t miss the office at all and would be fine working from home forever. I don’t miss socializing either–even before all this, I was pretty content to mostly chat with friends online and just meet up for an occasional face-to-face coffee or lunch. What I *do* miss, a lot, is doing things like shopping, enjoying the local beaches and parks (all closed at the moment), going to plays and museums, etc., and especially being able to travel. The one time I’ve felt really trapped and on the verge of a panic attack was when I tried looking at photos of past trips and realized that I might never be able to travel again, or at least not for several years.

    20. Kate H*

      Nope, not weird. I’ve considered and wished to work remotely from home for a while, and it’s actually exceeding my expectations. I love not having a commute, eating lunch at home, having my cats sleep next to me while I’m at my desk, and not having the distractions of a loud, open-plan office. In terms of cabin fever, I didn’t get out a ton previously so I’m coping with it better than many.

    21. Nozen*

      Not terrible at all, in fact I’m glad to see I’m not alone. It seems like all the articles and conversations are about dealing with social isolation, going stir crazy etc and I’m over here just living my life. I feel guilty that my friends, family and coworkers are having difficulties with the transition. I was joking the other day that it probably says something about my lifestyle that not leaving my house or seeing other people isn’t that big an adjustment.

    22. Niniel*

      Nope, not at all!! My one and only complaint in all of this is that I am mostly caught up on work, and I have low motivation for the few things that I have to do. If I could knock them out and be “on call” and do whatever the rest of the time, I’d be golden.

    23. Mama Bear*

      Not at all. I used to WFH and I miss it on some level. Some people are just suited for it.

    24. MistOrMister*

      I sure hope not, because this is me as well. I am nore productive both with the remote work and around my house now. I’m still lazy and low energy but somehow the being at home so much is helpful for me. I miss the ability to just run to any store I want if the whim hits, but really don”t have a lot I would need to be going to anywhere that’s closed for anyway.

    25. Telly Lace*

      I’m with you. While I’m definitely experiencing a lot of anxiety and fear, the working from home and mostly staying home doesn’t bother me that much. I was kind of a homebody anyway. Granted, I walk my dog three times a day and where I live I am still allowed to go running outside by myself, which I do 2-3 times a week, so I am still getting some nice time outside, where I know a lot of people are not lucky enough to be able to do that.

    26. Peachkins*

      I feel the same. My husband and I are total introverts and it’s actually been really nice not to have to worry about outside obligations. I do at least have my full-time job to pass a lot of the time, so that probably helps. Really though, other than the occasional urge to just go outside, I’ve been doing pretty well!

    27. Curmudgeon in California*

      Nope, not terrible. I don’t have cabin fever, and I like working from home.

      But my roomie does have cabin fever and she’s driving me nuts with it, which, coupled with the existential doom that this whole sh!t-show has caused, means that I’m just not working up to snuff. I feel guilty about it, because other than the roomie with the sugar foot, I’m doing fine.

    28. nep*

      Not terrible. There will be as many reactions/realities as there are humans dealing with the current situation.

    29. Senior Montoya*

      No, not terrible. People deal w adversity differently, sometimes because of previous experience and sometimes just because of temperament. And of course sometimes because of good fortune.

    30. Jean*

      If it’s terrible, then I’m terrible too. I like being by myself at home. I’m working from home and my job duties haven’t changed, just the place I’m doing them. I like being able to go out in the middle of the day for a walk, get up and do little chores throughout the day, have my “murder shows” (Dateline etc) on in the background, and pet my cats. (I have my son every other week, and we’re having to do online school during those weeks, but we have our own nice little routine for that too.)

      I miss going out, sometimes. But I’m not having a hard time with social distancing. Not at all.

  9. new kid*

    Monday’s post about not always working while “on the clock” right now is something I’m really struggling with too, but to an even more heightened degree. I’m on a long term project team where the only “real” deadlines (aside from interim milestones I set for myself) are currently years away. (In case it helps with context, think something like writing an instruction manual for a complex product as it’s being built but that’s still years away from release to customers.) Complicating things even further, I haven’t had a manager since the beginning of the year due to some org restructuring. I’m of course still beholden to the rest of my project team and we have a really great/supportive dynamic so I’m very conscientious to engage on every call with them and to deliver quality work on anything that’s directly requested of me, but there’s literally zero external pressure to do any work beyond that and my usually high internal motivation is completely shot.

    Is there anyway for me to turn this around and figure out how on earth I used to be able to focus for more than a few minutes at a time? I feel like I’m taking complete advantage of my situation, but I just cannot seem to make myself sit down and do work that I know no one particularly cares about or is looking for right this moment.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      When I face this kind of feeling, I up my external motivation. I set timers and tell myself if I work until it goes off, I can take a break and make some tea. I time myself doing things I need to do repeatedly (in my case, writing report cards for several hundred students) and track my running average and try to bring the the time down. I chunk my work into pieces, line up a bunch of blueberries or almonds, and eat one after completing each piece. It feels silly but it keeps me going.

      Also, headphones with ambient music or rain noise help with keeping away distractions, even when I’m already in a quiet place.

      1. new kid*

        I really like your blueberry/almond trick, actually! I think that’s the kind of simple ‘gamification’ that I would probably respond well to and my current work is parceled out in a way that would fit into something like that.

        Thanks for all the suggestions.

        1. MayLou*

          You might like Complice, which can be integrated with Workflowy for an even more powerful project management tool (that might not be the right term).

          When I was studying I found that always having listed the next step on every part of a project or piece of work was really helpful. Not an overwhelming list of everything that needed doing, and not a nebulous “make progress on this” but a specific next action. It made transitioning between tasks smoother and reduced the amount of time wasted in analysis paralysis.

      2. Amanda*

        For me, the TV actually helped me focus. I think having actual voices on the background helps me think I’m still in the office.

        1. Quill*

          Yeah, my youtube rabbit hole of “people cheerfully doing things” has gotten really deep.

    2. eshrai*

      I have the same problem really. Working on training that may or may not see the time of day, with no real guidance. I find my attention wandering more than usual. My manager has given us leave to spend our time on “professional development” as well. Think watching webinars to build skills usable in this job, or reading leadership prep books, etc. Would you be able to do some things like that, but related to your field? I really thrive on learning new skills so I have spent some of this time learning new technical skills that could be used in future projects. I plan on doing more of that today – watching Adobe tutorials and practicing.

      1. new kid*

        Yeah, whenever I had a day I was feeling less focused in the office, webinars were definitely a go to for me, especially since I’ve been using a new (to me) software and teaching myself as I go along. There’s something about being at home now though that I’m struggling to even be productive in that way. But I really appreciate the suggestion.

    3. So long and thanks for all the fish*

      I’m feeling this way too. I’m a scientist and am supposed to be writing a paper, but we didn’t get all the answers we need to publish (we have maybe half of the work done) and my PI told me to write up what we have, which I did, and when we discussed it in our last zoom meeting, we decided to wildly speculate (within reason) some answers. So i’m sitting here with instructions to speculate wildly speculate, with no motivation to do so, while my dog whines at me to play. Sometimes I give in with the hope that it’ll make my subconscious work, which has mixed results. Other times I bake something, because it feels somewhat like being in the lab. I wish I could focus.

      1. new kid*

        Yeah, that’s exactly it. Sometimes I can make myself do other things around the house (I’m moving at the end of the month, so packing mostly) that make me feel momentarily productive, but then I can’t get that energy focused back on work stuff.

      2. Eukomos*

        Set a timer, work on the article for fifteen minutes. If you make it, great, you accomplished your goal! You can keep working if you want to, which you may at that point because it’s always the starting that’s the hard part. If you don’t want to keep working after fifteen minutes are up then that’s fine, you accomplished your goal, go read some other articles you’ve been meaning to get to or apply to a grant or answer email or whatever else it is that’s on your plate, that still counts as productive. Eventually you’ll probably want to ramp up your initial goal past fifteen minutes but don’t push it, the trick only works if the initial goal is genuinely easy to achieve.

    4. limpet1*

      I’ve reealllly struggled with this but I’ve found setting 15 or 20 minute timers has been a massive help. I work for the 15 mins, no opening up ask a manager, checking my phone or the death count, getting water etc. for that time. Then I get 5 mins to walk around, read whatever I like (not make a snack or i’d be obese) before settling back down again. It really really works for me, i’ve basically got all my work done in half the time.

    5. SophieChote*

      I have the same issue on some of my big research projects for marketing/products that will probably be put on hold/never made now.

      ….especially when I finish my day-to-day stuff and all I have left are these projects with both no end and lots of work…hard to keep focued

      I understand.

      And following to see what others suggest

    6. Hydrangea McDuff*

      Doing short timers/pomodoro method works well for me.

      It also sounds like you don’t have as much to do as usual. Can you pick a skill you’ve always wanted to work on (even tangentially work-related) and do some professional development? If you’re on linked in you have access to lots of work type classes and tutorials. :)

    7. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      I struggle with being motivated to get stuff done even before the enforced WFH (and I struggle with it on personal projects as well)… it’s like I lack any kind of internal motivation or discipline a lot of the time. Not good. When there’s an imminent deadline with a “drop dead date” I will meet it; when there’s a problem I will go straight in there and solve all the things… but ultimately I find I prefer ‘longer term’ work as I got burned out over a period of years with “putting out fires” and I firmly believe there’s only a certain quota of that (varying from person to person) that you can take.

      So what I’ve tried to do is impose a structure on myself to make sure it gets done. At work I make a list of 3 things I have to complete that day and physically write it out (I’m old-skool in some ways despite working in ‘Tech’ so I have a glass whiteboard next to my desk, but it also works electronically) and commit to myself that I will do these things and then will do X (some treat) after I complete each one.

      It may be hypocritical advice since I struggle with it myself, but ultimately a “long term project” is just a series of “short term deliverables” each with their own timeline (which may not be a ‘drop dead date’ but just an internal milestone or not even have a specific date) and as such meeting the overall project goal is really just the accumulation of a series of sub-goals… as mundane as they are.

      For what it’s worth I think “being able to focus for more than a few minutes” and “no external pressure to do work so I don’t” are sort of orthogonal.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        Oh and I forgot to add – my internal monologue goes something like: “there are X hours/days before you need to report back with a deliverable on the Y project, so why don’t you just slack off for a bit and then do the Y in the half hour before it’s due as you know you have been able to do before”….

    8. same boat*

      Yes to all of this! Started a new job a week after the UK went into lockdown and it’s been a *challenge*; never worked from home before, no solid deadlines, training is all self-guided and everyone else is coping with backlogs of emails and meetings so hearing back to clarify something takes a long time. Plus, my last team was so tiny and every task was made TOP PRIORITY so there’s an ingrained sense of needing to be busy at all times.

      Work right now is like zoning out in a meeting and trying desperately to concentrate… and then realising that you’re putting more effort into looking like you’re paying attention than actually paying attention.

      Do you have a desk-based task or hobby you could have on hand for when you zone out of work stuff? So instead of letting your concentration go entirely, you switch it over to something more enjoyable you can put down when you’re ready to work again. Even in the most basic sense, you’re still accomplishing something so you don’t end each day feeling defeated. It might not be the most ‘work-friendly’ advice, but it’s not really business as normal no

  10. The Cosmic Avenger*

    I’m finding that video chats are keeping me sane. But then, I’m a (low-energy) extrovert. When I was in the office, I would chat every day with at least 3 or 4 people face-to-face, talking about our families and our weekends and such. If you have MS Teams or Skype, offer to check in with coworkers via video chat. Even if you don’t feel the need, some of them might.

    Overall, I’m a bit worried about our collective future, but on a personal level, despite feeling isolated, I’ve worked from home before, just not 40 hours/5 days a week, so this is not as big of an adjustment for me. We’re going through a big transition at work, but we knew that was coming for months, it’s unrelated to the current crisis. It is a bit weirder now, but isn’t everything?

    1. A. Ham*

      yes to the video chats. It’s funny- when all this started we scheduled a daily department meeting via teams, and at the time we REALLY needed it because so much was changing on a daily basis and we needed to check in and get the new info- it was critical to our work. Now, weeks later, things have leveled out a little, and under normal circumstances it might be considered unnecessary to still have daily morning meetings but no one feels compelled to cancel them because everyone just likes seeing faces in the morning and checking in. They may only bee 10 minutes long on most days, but it is still helpful.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yeah, we started a manager’s check-in call that we didn’t have before, as much to make sure everyone is doing OK as anything else. And the managers are of course keeping in touch with their direct reports.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      I feel bad for everyone who calls me because I am TERRIBLE at letting them hang up. I basically turn into a golden retriever. Oh look…people! Pay attention to me! No don’t leave! I have stories to tell!

      Only saving grace so far is I can sing along out loud to the music I have going constantly.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I had a non-work video chat with a bunch of people from high school, and it went over 3 hours! Some of them are people I see a few times a year and interact/talk with almost every day, but some I hadn’t seen or talked to in decades. It was good to see/hear/talk to all of them, and yes, apparently us extroverts had a pent-up need for more conversation!

        I’m thinking about posting a video meeting link in the open thread now, just for anyone who needs to talk.

        1. Quill*

          I’m usually the introvert herder and right now I’m trying to drop all of them into one video call to play werewolf.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      As an extrovert myself I chat to more than 3-4 people a day, and we as a company have tried to replicate the F2F aspect (now we’re enforced WFH) with some “social” chat areas in our messaging app… which I do participate in, but I’m conscious that productivity is being monitored so don’t want to be perceived as ‘that guy (girl)’ who is always chatting and slacking off rather than doing actual productive work.

      I’m finding that people are more willing to share information about their personal lives than they would have in the office. I’m not sure if it’s a curse or a blessing? I haven’t seen anything noteworthy (spouse taking their clothes off for a shower not realising they are on camera, or whatever) but have heard the mundane day-to-day interactions like people’s partner bringing them coffee in the morning and it sort of puts names to faces like they always talked about their partner Sally (or whoever) but now we actually have seen Sally on camera!

      Also I am finding that compared to F2F meetings, the more introverted members of the team seem far more forthcoming / assertive over text chat than they are when we are all working in-person as a group… and it turns out that they don’t necessarily say much but when they do say something, it is actually significant and interesting! (and correct!)

  11. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    The school I teach at just made he official announcement (which was clearly coming) that we’re not returning to campus for the rest of the school year. Which I know will hit me with a bunch of moments of grief as we miss various traditions and milestones, but at the moment it just gives me a feeling of relief to have certainty. Now that I know what I’m up against, I can plan out what distance learning can look like for my curriculum. It also helps that I’ve mostly made peace by now with the fact that it will look very, very different – and it REALLY helps that my administration gets that, too.

    1. urban teacher*

      I just started with distance learning and learned that none of my special education students seem to have access. I’m only getting a few comments from parents so I have no idea if anyone sees anything.I wish my administration would realize that.

  12. Midwest writer*

    I cut back my hours about three weeks ago, when I realized I was going to be home with my three kids (8, 6 and 2). Previously I worked at home two days a week; my boss and I agreed it would be OK for me to WFH every day, for 25 hours a week instead of 40, temporarily. It was my suggestion, because I knew I wouldn’t be as productive at home with three kids who needed help with school, getting meals, etc. My husband is a teacher, so he was still getting paid and also working from home and taking a master’s level class relating to his teaching license. We swap on and off to make sure each of us has the time we need to get stuff done, and I’ve been getting up at 5 a.m. to do some writing and emailing before my kids wake up. Since the weather has turned to crap again (hello, 20 degrees and snow), my kids have been stuck inside more than usual, which makes it hard for them to go to sleep at night, which makes for VERY LONG DAYS.
    Monday, my boss called and told me she may have to bump me back to full-time, so that her paycheck protection loan stays as a grant instead of a loan. I get it, but I don’t have 40 hours of stuff to do right now for work (smaller newspapers than usual, no events to go cover) and I do have lots of hours of taking care of my kids ahead of me. I know it’s the epitome of a privilege problem, but I’m just tired and mentally exhausted from the whole thing.

    1. Miriam*

      Maybe your boss should pay you for 40 hours regardless of what you are able to get done, as an act of generosity as well as a way of helping themselves with the loan/grand situation. It seems like it would be a win-win, right?

      1. Midwest writer*

        I think that’s part of my issue. I’m salary, she doesn’t work in our location, she trusts me to put in however many hours to get the job done. So if she bumps me up to 40, I’m going to feel like I need to sit at a computer for 40 hours (or close to it) … when that’s not actually been how my job normally goes. Part of it is that I have to do quite a bit of driving to locations for meetings/covering events during normal times and almost all of that driving is gone. So there’s at least 5 hours of a normal week that I’m not doing. I’m going to feel guilty that I can’t fill those hours, but also feel guilty if I step away from the computer to help/play with my kids, even if I’m still available if my phone rings.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          Part of being salaried is being there to cover workload, not fully set hours.

          I’m sure at necessary times you probably worked more than 40. Your current workload doesn’t need 40 hours. You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty over.

          1. Midwest writer*

            Fair point. I appreciate you reminding me of that.
            Our busiest season is usually in the summer — there are fairs and festivals most weekends that I need to get pics of, and that comes on the heels of graduation, which is also a busy time for the paper. And now … those are getting canceled and postponed. It’s going to be the quietest summer for me in years. I’m looking forward to it, in many ways.

            1. HiringMgr2*

              Absolutely agree. My team is salaried and I am not expecting them to log 40-hours weekly right now. I’m expecting them to get their work done and balance their working hours with their home/family needs – which will look different every single day. I am not at all concerned with making sure they are actually working 40-hours a week. In fact, I’m quite certain most are not. Heck, I’m not. As long the work is getting done that needs to get done… all is good. Don’t feel guilty!!

              Fellow parent here … and I’m losing my mind with homeschooling. It’s HARD.

              1. Midwest writer*

                It is so hard. And our school stuff isn’t even mandatory. My son’s kindergarten teacher is AMAZING. My older son’s teacher is … older and not so into Facebook and Zoom, but it’s OK because my husband has my oldest for a special class anyway, so my husband has some good insights there. I feel lucky that we can pretty much make them read, do some math and writing and call it good. Grading it would make it MUCH more stressful.

          2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            And even if you were in the office for 40 hours a week, you wouldn’t be solidly working for 40 hours. You’d take bathroom and coffee breaks, chat with a coworker, etc.

            1. Midwest writer*

              Absolutely true … but I’m not killing 10 to 15 hours every week with nothing to do. (Well, some weeks. But not most weeks.) And it feels work-ish to talk with co-workers, less so to jump on the trampoline with my kids.

          3. GRA*

            This is a really good point. Thank you!! I’ve been feeling a lot of guilt of not always having 40 hours of work to do, while still getting all my work done. I know when we go back to the office, I’ll be back to 40+ hours a week. I’ve been good about giving others a lot of grace right now, but it’s hard to do for myself.

        2. CL Cox*

          A lot of meetings are bing held virtually, so you can still attend them from home. I think they’re also often recorded, so maybe you could watch them during a time when your kids are doing schoolwork, rather than when they are initially streaming. You can conduct emaqil interviews, which give you the flexibility of working on them when you can work around everyone else’s schedule. One thing I’ve also done is keep my work email open on my computer and turn on my speakers and notifications. That way, I can hear when an email comes in but still be working on other things.

          1. Midwest writer*

            I do attend meetings virtually, which has been awesome. I’m saving hours of drive time (two or three meetings most weeks, usually 30 minutes each way driving), which is awesome. I do lots of email interviews and I get up early to write, when there are fewer distractions. I get my email on my phone, so I’m never missing it … I just … feel like if I’m on 40, I should be busy at least 30 or more, and that’s just not super likely when working from home and when so much stuff is canceled. My feature story game is on point lately, though.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              My feature story game is on point lately, though.

              Then that’s all that matters right now. You’re getting done the work you do have, so don’t worry about filling up 40 hours, especially since your boss knows you asked for a reduced schedule not only to look after your kids, but also because you knew work would be slow. Trust me – she knows it too. She just needs you to be on call for the 40 in case something comes up and so she can get her grant.

    2. Quinalla*

      Be up front with her IMO, tell her you will realistically only be able to do 30-35 hours of work, but you’ll be available for phone/email the normal 40. This is a unique time, I’d just be up front so that way you don’t have to feel bad about it. I know I’ve been up front with my boss that I can’t work 45-50 hours like I normally do, I don’t have the bandwidth right now, so I have been getting 40 and calling it good enough. I also am not nearly as focused during those 40, none of us are, but I’ve had to let that go too.

      1. Midwest writer*

        I feel like I should add in that she’s been AWESOME and super encouraging through all of this. She’s going to tell me to take care of the kids first and the rest will sort itself out. It’s just the issues in my head getting me down.
        On the other hand, I just read that the fund for small business loans has already run out of money, so who knows if she’ll even get the grant. I really want her to get it! She’s a good boss and has about a dozen employees who could really use the continued income through all of this.

  13. TiredofThis*

    I’ve been out of work since March 17th. We were lucky enough to be fully paid through the end of March and then furloughed starting April 1. I’m in a lucky financial position where, with unemployment, my tax returns, and the stimulus check, I don’t have to worry about housing or food. But I feel so lonely as most people I know are continuing to work remotely. It’s been increasingly difficult to not feel like I have a purposeless existence.

    1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      I’m sorry you’re in this position. I know this is easier said than felt, but I assure you that your existence is not purposeless. You’re not defined by your career (or lack thereof) – none of us are – but I understand that the loneliness is real, especially under these circumstances. I hope you’re able to find some solace until life goes back to normal (or new normal).

    2. Pinkie Pie Works Hard*

      I’m in a bit of the opposite situation in which I live in a house of artists and performers and I’ve still got my day job. Our hours have become so disconnected from each other, and our specific experiences of what’s hard are very different (I’m on 6 AM conf calls each day; they’re watching movies in our common room at 2 AM). I’ve got friends who are furloughed and bored; I’ve got work colleagues who are overwhelmed and stressed. One of the best things we’ve done in any of it is just try to find small points of completely non-work-related connection as much as possible. Your friends who are adjusting to a new work reality might appreciate the opportunity to disconnect and talk directly to you about something interesting. And honestly, checking in on folks, or being vulnerable enough to ask for a check-in is its own purpose at this moment in time.

    3. RobotWithHumanHair*

      I feel you. I was furloughed last week and I don’t think I realized how much of my mental stability was tied to having working and feeling like I had a purpose throughout the week. It…hasn’t been easy.

  14. eshrai*

    I have been home working for the last month and there are good and bad days. I am having a very hard time focusing, even more so than usual, even when it is quiet with no interruptions. I was sick for the first two weeks, possibly coronavirus, probably not. Still have to use an emergency inhaler if i walk around the block. Being sick means I really haven’t been out of the house much. I have taken to riding in the car with my roommate when she does custody switches with her kids as my only means of escaping the house! We usually pick up a coffee too (from a drive through of course).

    It has been a hard adjustment with three kids in the house and homeschooling. I feel lucky I have a roommate here who is furloughed and is watching the kids while I work, and then I feel guilty that I am not more focused on my work. I am also still taking night classes to advance my career and struggling with all of it. But all in all I think my family unit here is coping well. My significant other still goes in to work so I am glad we are not trying to work from home in the same room. Kudos to all of you out there making that dynamic work!

  15. Kiwi*

    The stress is ruining my sleep schedule and what rest I do get is interrupted by really weird and unsettling dreams. It’s killing my focus and productivity and it’s bad timing because we’re still crazy busy.

    1. new kid*

      I wish I had advice for you, but all I can do is commiserate because my sleep schedule is totally off the rails right now and I’m having unsettling dreams as well. I couldn’t fall asleep until well after midnight last night (very late for me) and then woke up around 5 am this morning. I’m already anticipating the crash that’s inevitably coming this afternoon.

    2. Lizzy May*

      I can relate to this. I’m having such weird dreams and I wake up exhausted. Then I struggle all day to focus on work just to collapse into bed and do it all over again. I’ve taken two long weekends since late February just to try to clear my head and get my sleeping back in order and it works for a while and then the weird dreams start again.

    3. Grits McGee*

      If I don’t dose myself with melatonin, I don’t fall asleep until 4am. I’m hoping it’s a result of my routine being out of whack, and not a stealth return of the extreme psychosomatic insomnia that I had in my 20s. wish I could give you solutions instead of just sympathy and commiseration.

    4. Quinalla*

      Exercising daily (I take a break on the weekend) has helped me the most with this, but I have to do it right when I wake up or I won’t do it as I’m too exhausted later in the day. Getting outside as much as possible has helped too. My sleep is still not what it should be, but its hard with all this anxiety. I hope it gets better for you!

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Can you speak (remotely, I presume) to your doctor? Seems like you may have an incipient case of anxiety here.

    6. nep*

      Sorry you’re struggling with that. Same here re: sleep. Lack of sleep is like a poison. Hope it gets better for you.

  16. queen b*

    I am struggling because before COVID hit, I wanted to get a new job. That feeling hasn’t gone away, and now companies are not really hiring anymore. I’ve even thought about quitting but then I wouldn’t be eligible for unemployment. Sigh.

    1. Brett*

      It is very dependent on the industry, but some industries are scrambling to hire lots of new people right now. Hiring is slower because so many companies do not know _how_ to hire right now, but there are still jobs to be found.
      Even better, a lot more companies are going to be open to remote work now, so you can greatly expand your search geographically.

        1. fposte*

          Food supply, medical manufacturing, etc. A lot seem to be hiring at the corporate level as well as the hands-on, too.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Yup – my brother just had two interviews last week with Pepsi and P&G for corporate-level positions (I’m praying he gets one of these jobs so he can leave his CO position at a prison).

          1. nep*

            Too risky to be worth it. I salute those on these particular front lines.
            If I lived alone I’d continue Shipting while continuing my job search, but I live w a high-risk person.

        2. Brett*

          Agriculture and logistics need a lot more people right now too.
          I suspect there will be a big wave of hiring for automation companies as well.

        3. Diahann Carroll*

          Some software companies are still hiring, though the one I work for stopped a couple of weeks ago to preserve our cash reserves while revenues are down.

        4. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Maybe not scrambling, but accounting/finance and audit roles are still active, unless the company paused everything.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        Yes, this! It’s complicated right now, but companies are still hiring. Just gotta put yourself out there!

        1. queen b*

          thanks, everyone! I work in software, so I’ll have to be more diligent in my searches. hopefully something pops up soon!

          1. Goo*

            Not sure what kind of software you handle, but I know several grocery distributors are clamoring for software development to help them manage this insane influx of demand!

          2. software developer*

            Software companies are hiring, even if most of the company has a hiring freeze. The company I work for has a hiring freeze due to general uncertainty but certain divisions are still hiring.

    2. JF*

      I am in this boat – I’ve pretty much stopped looking since I think jumping ship would be a bad idea, but it hasn’t changed the reasons at my current job that I wanted to leave in the first place. I feel lucky to still be employed but that doesn’t make me happier about it.

    3. landertoo*

      Same. May was the month I was going to start actively applying to other jobs, and now I don’t know when that will happen, and it is a bummer!

      I don’t think I’d be comfortable leaving my current team in the lurch during the crisis (right now I work at an essential organization, and I know they don’t have the bandwidth to fill a staffing hole.) And it’s also just hard to walk away from a secure WFH gig during isolation. So I’ll stay until things cool down a bit.

      But I’m hitting up LinkedIn multiple times a day to fantasize about leaving, anyway. I’m so unhappy in this position! Which to be clear is a thousand times better than being fired/laid off, or god forbid getting COVID-19 because I’m forced to work in poor conditions, but still….

  17. A Teacher*

    I’m working more than I ever do when I’m in my classroom. Three hours of emails to parents yesterday and 6 hours of online grading. Not to mention 4 hours of live teaching/curriculum. I’m not sleeping well and I’m exhausted.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Fellow teacher here. I am really disliking reviewing student work online. It doesn’t feel as “real” to me as my piles of paper, and it feels harder to keep track of the big picture of a student’s work.

      1. Mama Bear*

        I’m sure it doesn’t help that while you could eyeball a paper and recognize Timmy’s handwriting, you can’t do that online and if someone sent you a random file that didn’t follow your instructions…One of my kid’s teachers recorded a lesson with bad hair and her family wandering through in the background. I had to smile, though, because that’s a lot of people’s reality right now. My kid’s been getting lots of practice in writing a good “business email” and being patient and understanding. I know teachers have a lot on their plates.

    2. Gallery Mouse*

      My teacher friends have said the same thing! They are working more than ever before.
      Thank you for educating!!! I cant imagine how crazy it is right now with schools not re-opening for the remainder of the school year :(

      1. HiringMgr2*

        Seriously… GOD BLESS TEACHERS. My kid’s teacher is working her butt off right now and is doing such an amazing job. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it is to translate in-school to distance learning. Especially with kids of all ages (as in, not adults).
        Thank you for all you do!!!!

    3. EBennett*

      I agree that online teaching is definitely more work. Is there any way to cut back on how much you grade? Our beloved principal basically just ordered us to only grade every other assignment because she is worried about our mental and physical health.
      The oft-repeated maxim is so true “put on your own oxygen mask first.” You cannot take care of your students if you don’t take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself.
      I also know it is easier said than done and I need to take my own advice.

      1. A Teacher*

        No, because 3 of my sections are dual credit and I adjunct for a junior college for my second job. Some of it is set, trust me I’ve cut back as much as I can on giving stuff. One section of dual credit will not have tests the rest of the semester–I’m doing projects instead and some of them are fun that they like (as they tell me-ie making food or baking something). For my non DC courses, we are only to count assignments if they help the grade-but I still have to meet with them and be available in 2 hours blocks of time 1-2 times a week. I’m not complaining, my admin is supportive and I haven’t had a lot of issues with parents for the most part, its just exhausting. It also sucks because I miss my classroom and the banter with my kids. I have a facility dog that I take to work daily and she’s almost depressed because she can’t “go to work.” I like that I’m learning new technology and my classroom will be more of a hybrid next year with MS Teams but the set up when we had no training and very little prep is a lot.

    4. Brett*

      I did a considerable amount of online teaching as a grad student, and the workload for online teaching versus in-person (especially for the lab classes I was doing) was vastly different. The online classes were easily 2x to 3x the workload of the in-person classes, and that was even with me writing new labs for the in-person class.
      Local governments are struggling for funding right now, but from an outside perspective it looks like we have to hire more teachers (a lot more) if we end up having another year of online classes.

      1. A Teacher*

        I think one of the positives I’m seeing is that a lot of those same critics of teachers because “they went to school once” are now realizing it isn’t so easy to teach. Teaching, like any profession, isn’t for everyone. I couldn’t be an engineer or in HR or a welder. I switched professions from athletic training to teaching and this online stuff after 10 years of teaching is a whole new ballgame.

    5. Humble Schoolmarm*

      When we first started, I was encouraged by how reasonable the workload seemed (1 hr office hours per day, don’t assign too much so that the kids don’t have to do school more than 2 hrs per day). What I didn’t expect, was how much of my time was going to go to answering emails. I was aware that I spent a lot of time in the classroom with my kids who are really capable but need to check that they’re doing everything perfectly right before they tackle any question or work, but I didn’t think about how demanding it would be in a virtual classroom. Right now I feel like 80% of my work day is emailing with 2 students. I don’t want to give them the brush off, because they’re anxious kids and this is an anxious time for everybody, but I’m really struggling to figure out how to reassure them AND mark AND prepare new material AND go to meetings (just raised from 1 to 3 per week) AND provide a whole new set of work for a kid who’s struggling.

      I’m delighted to have a stable job and I’m thrilled that my kids are hanging in there, but it’s a lot at the moment.

      1. A Teacher*

        Totally agree. Plus learning new technology. I didn’t know MS Teams or Screen cast o matic at all and the junior college is using Zoom. Its not just the teaching and prep, its all the other stuff and learning new technology on the fly and making classroom hands on stuff virtual–plus trying to engage the kids so you aren’t just talking at the screen.

        We are still required to meet in PLC (Professional Learning Community) and I’m an elective so there are 22 of us that do not teach the same thing at all–think I teach Health Sciences so Med Term and First aid and I’m supposed to meet collaboratively with art, Spanish, PE, and the band teachers. We call ourselves the Island of Misfit Toys. I’m the department chair so we are doing a touch base meeting tomorrow before we teach.

        1. Humble Schoolmarm*

          Yup! In the last 24 hours I’ve learned screencastify and Google meet. I’m so glad that our School Board has a tech team and they’ve been doing a great job of hosting office hours and sending quick guides to some of the most common programs.

          Right now we’re doing grade level meetings instead of PLCs. It’s not ideal because I teach in a dual language school and there isn’t typically a lot of overlap between my side and the English side. I’m trying to figure out if I can/want to burn enough capital with my principal to request a weekly meeting for just our second language side. We all share and know the same kids, so it makes more sense to me than to sit in on a meeting about kids I don’t know who are being taught different things in a whole other language.

      2. Maybe*

        Forgive me if this isn’t relevant as I’m not a teacher, but if it’s primarily two students would it be possible to set up pre-scheduled check ins every few days? That way you could plan around it / have them funnel all their requests through the check ins?

        1. A Teacher*

          In my case, its not two students. Its multiple students reaching out via: email, google voice text, regular text, and MS teams chat. At all hours of the day. I get anixety when something is not answered but after 13.5 hours on the computer yesterday, I realized I couldn’t sustain that.

    6. Also A Teacher*

      I just wanted to chime in and commiserate. I have some of both problems. I teach elementary band and strings, and they basically want us to run a YouTube channel except through Canvas, which has been a nightmare to learn and set up. My county is trying to be very cognizant of our personal time and also our students’ time (since parents are working from home and may be sharing devices with multiple kids) so right now what they’re asking of me seems…too easy and disconnected? I expected to be able to hold office hours for my kids and try to teach some new skills, but we aren’t allowed to even do that. We have to join one of the homeroom classes Google Meets once a week, which means by the end of the school year I won’t even have seen all of my kids once if I stick to this schedule. And then on top of all of this, we aren’t allowed to teach anything new (review only) and we aren’t grading or asking kids to turn in anything, so I can’t even give feedback to the ones I know will be chomping at the bit to hear from me.

      I just…really miss them and really miss making music with them and I’m so sad for all of the things we were going to accomplish this year that we won’t be now. This whole thing sucks. I’m also stressed about all the school instruments I won’t get back from kids and also possibly doing band and strings recruitment online somehow in the fall??? UGH.

      I’m just glad I’m not alone in my feelings. My friends are all loving this and living their WFH dreams and I feel so isolated and lonely and sad.

      1. Brett*

        There are a lot of regional networks forming just for band and strings teachers because of the unique problems they face. My wife (a suzuki institutional teacher) is part of one just for everyone to figure out the complications of work from home private lessons. Another friend of mine is a southern california band teacher who has a network of band teachers working through different software options together.
        You probably have at least an informal network already, so might want to reach out through them for some of the solutions they are coming up with.

        1. Also A Teacher*

          Thanks! If this wasn’t clear, we aren’t allowed to live teach, at all. No one at the elementary level in my district is. I definitely have a network of people and we are all sharing video ideas but…I just didn’t sign up to be a Youtube star, and that’s basically what’s being asked of us. :/ And I definitely didn’t sign up to do it on an incredibly clunky and not at all user-friendly site without being able to interact with my children.

    7. just a random teacher*

      I just wish my state would pick a plan and stick with it. We’re on about Round 4 of new plans in the last month, and I am just Over It. I can teach online, I can teach pass/fail, I can teach new stuff, I can just do review, I can do whatever, but I need to not get a new plan every damn week.

      At this point, I’m feeling totally unmotivated to actually tear my online course apart for the second time in April based on the new state-level rules from this week, because next week they’ll probably say something else and I am tired of all of the planning and clicking and throwing away of the previous hours and hours of work.


    8. Another Teacher*

      I feel all of this. My state hasn’t officially shut down for the rest of the year but the informal consensus is we will. I miss my kids (HS freshmen and juniors) and am feeling totally torn trying to give my students enough attention and also my 3.5 and 5 month old enough attention. And it is HARD nor does it feel like enough for anyone.

  18. I miss the muffins*

    I miss the chocolate chocolate chip muffins at the cafeteria at work.

    Yes this is a minuscule thing compared to all that is going on right now. But those muffins were good enough to get a shout-out into the internet. And thank you to the baker(s) who made them.

    Maybe one day I’ll see you again, delicious muffin. You made the commute into the office worthwhile.

    1. Amanda*

      OMG, the cafeteria brownies! Weird and shallow as it may sound, it fills me with actual grief every time I think about the brownies.

      It may seem like nothing the big scheme, but for me they seem to represent everything that was good and normal and now is gone. I totally get you!

    2. Pit Pat*

      I would kill for a La Colombe oat milk latte.

      I realize in the big scheme of things, this is a very small thing to miss, but…

      I’d love to hear other people’s “frivolous” things that they miss.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        My jam was to walk the half mile to my local coffee shop and get a hot chocolate on the weekends. It was so nice in the winter!

        1. londonedit*

          What I’m really missing is my Saturday morning routine. I’d walk to my local parkrun, run the 5k with friends, and then either we’d all go for coffee or I’d walk back up to my favourite coffee shop and buy a coffee and a cake. I’d love to do that again!

      2. Grace*

        My work’s coffee machine! We had a proper one, that ground the beans for us, and I have nothing but instant at home because I was a coffee-only-at-work person. I miss good coffee.

        On the other hand, I’ve drastically cut my sugar intake on the basis of there being no eternal supply of biscuits and soft drinks.

      3. new kid*

        Super frivolous, but I miss idly shopping as a leisure activity, honestly. I’m moving at the end of the month, and I was really looking forward to buying furniture. Plus I think I tie shopping to my mom because we enjoy thrifting together and I haven’t been able to see her since new years.

        1. Roberta aka Bertie*

          I also miss window shopping. It was only after the quarantine started that I realized just how often I would take a long wander on the weekend popping into and out of shops, just for fun, buying if something caught my eye but mostly just looking.

      4. Herding Butterflies*

        I used to walk to the nearest bodega at about a block and half away just to get away from my desk and buy Reese’s peanut butter cups. I miss my office space, I miss the walk to the bodega. I know I can get Reese’s anywhere, but it was the ritual of it.

      5. christine*

        There is a little cafe across the street from the office that sells these giant, delicious chocolate chip cookies. A few times a week that’d be my mid-afternoon pick-me-up: a quick walk across the street for a cookie and either a hot chocolate or an iced chai. The employees at the cafe recognized me after a while. It was just… nice. I miss the cookies, but I think more than that I miss the routine of it. (And probably the ability to go outside for something that seems so frivolous now.)

      6. Elenna*

        There’s a Tim Hortons on the first floor of my office building and I miss their breakfast sandwiches and steeped tea. :(

        1. Bree*

          I miss the friendly workers who knew to get me my double-double every morning before I even said anything. :(

        2. Mill Miker*

          Carpooling meant I got dropped of at work every day a half hour before I was supposed to, which was just enough time to walk across downtown, enjoy a breakfast sandwich at Tim Hortons, and then walk back to the office. I miss the walk and the food.

      7. The Original K.*

        I miss just “popping into” a place. You’re out, you’re walking around, you see something in a window and you just walk in and decide to look around, or get the pastry they have in the window, or try on that dress. You can’t just walk in anywhere anymore, and I really miss that.

      8. Tau*

        Going out to a cafe for breakfast on the weekend. I had this whole routine where I would take my laptop, buy myself a chai and a panini or the local equivalents, and have some guiltless writing time (if I write, great! if I just produce 1k words of more worldbuilding and plotting notes, also great! If I just ended up daydreaming and then going home after half an hour, everything is good!). I’ve been trying to figure out if I could manage an in-home equivalent and coming up blank. :(

      9. Diahann Carroll*

        I miss going to cultural events like the opera – I bought my season tickets for 2020-2021 in December, and yesterday they sent us an email cancelling the entire season that was supposed to start in June (guess that means my state’s staying closed for some time). I miss getting dressed in cocktail and evening attire, doing my makeup, and showing up for a glitzy night on the town with good drinks and light patisseries. I have so many beautiful gowns that are just dying for some love, but I have nowhere to wear them now – it’s only a matter of time before my season tickets for the ballet get cancelled too. *sigh*

      10. JustaTech*

        I miss getting dinner at my husband’s work cafeteria. It’s not even mostly that it’s free, it’s that it’s always something really different and interesting and well made, and I could have a soda with dinner and when we got home we were *done* for the night, and no dishes.

      11. Mill Miker*

        The only thing that tends to get me up before noon on weekends is the opportunity to either prepare or purchase a really nice breakfast. With everything closed, and eggs in short supply, neither are really options right now, and most of the other things I consider breakfast staples are the things that run out or go off about halfway between our now-reduced grocery trips. I miss just having a breakfast that my brain recognizes as “breakfast” and not just “food”

      12. frivolousgrit*

        I miss walking up and down the aisles at a craft store, maybe buying something or maybe just browsing, during my lunch break at work. I would wear my ear buds, listen to a podcast, and just check out fabric/yarn/whatever.

        1. JustaTech*

          The last “frivolous” shopping I did before the SAH orders came down was to go to the yarn store. My SO gave me a hard time about it, but just knowing that I had enough yarn for two whole projects just for me took my anxiety way, way down.

      13. Jackalope*

        My favorite sport is ballroom dancing. As in, I’ve done it multiple times a week for over a decade. I applied for my current job since it was a significant pay increase and I could better afford the dancing. It’s my standard mental health boost when I’m having a hard time and just need to get out of my head for awhile. Etc. Really. Love. Dancing. But for obvious reasons, going to a dance party and dancing with 30 different people is off the table right now. It’s killing me! And I’m worried about my studio that they’ll still be around when all of this finishes. My other favorite sport is biking which I can still do in my state but it’s not the same as dancing.

      14. nep*

        Not so frivolous for me, though, since online reselling is currently one of my income streams.
        Really do miss visiting the mix of my favorite resale shops, though. And of course this is a time of year people are spring cleaning and usually donating some interesting things.
        Related to that, I always look forward to estate sale / garage sale ‘season.’ Gone for now…

      15. double spicy*

        Thanks for starting this thread! I miss being able to share baked goods with my coworkers (under normal circumstances, I attend lots of potlucks with friends, and my coworkers are always glad to help eat leftovers). I’ve hardly baked anything since before the stay-at-home order started locally, mid-March.

    3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I think I miss the little things as a way to keep myself from getting caught up in anxiety about the big things.

      1. NotAPirate*

        I think this statement is very wise. I have no hope of getting the big things right now (hugging my dad, very at risk, 4 states away from me) but there’s a decent hope that the grocery store might get my favorite cereal in stock. Focusing on missing my cereal is a lot easier than missing my dad.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I work in a company with a test kitchen that regularly turns out cupcakes, cookies and occasionally muffins, quick breads, scones, pizzas, pasta dishes, and other baked delights. I miss wandering into the break area to see what’s been made recently.

    5. Mouse*

      There’s a coffee shop next to my work. They’re ridiculously expensive, but the chai lattes are amaaaaazing and it’s my favorite “rough day” treat. I miss them so much.

    6. CupcakeCounter*

      I think focusing on those little things, either that you have them or you miss them, can really help manage anxiety over bigger picture issues. Its why I felt the LW from yesterday about the missing chocolate egg got an unfair shake. Yes there are serious issues out there and receiving a chocolate egg is low priority right now but those little things matter even more right now for mental health. It was something to look forward to! Like a sunny day in the middle of a Midwest winter – doesn’t change the fact that its still 4 degrees outside with 22 inches of snow but Damn! It looks pretty and makes me feel better.

      1. fposte*

        I would have *cried* over that chocolate egg. The combination of missing out and food right now would have just knifed me in the heart.

    7. The Original K.*

      I used to work somewhere that had the best blueberry muffins I have ever had, to this day. I feel you.

    8. CL Cox*

      There is an Amish bakery inside a farmer’s market near my school. They have the most amazing pretzels. I miss their pretzel and milkshake special. And Dunkin runs when I made bank deposits.

    9. Stormy Weather*

      There’s a Swedish espresso shop near my office that I miss. They make this cardamon bread with a cinnamon filling that is utterly amazing. And I can’t try to make it myself because I can’t find a store with yeast.

    10. Can't Sit Still*

      I miss the pie in the cafeteria at work. $.79 a slice for lemon meringue, pecan, chocolate silk, apple, or berry. Mmm, lemon meringue!

      I also miss espresso macchiatos and flat whites. They are entirely frivolous caffeine delivery methods, but I miss them so!

        1. Can't Sit Still*

          Our cafeteria is subsidized, so that keeps food cheap. But I think the pies are catering leftovers, given the total randomness of flavors.

    11. CastIrony*

      I frankly don’t miss much, but whenever I see a coworker from my former job, I always say hello to them by name because they’re special to me.

    12. just a random teacher*

      I miss overhearing the student conversations. Teens will tend to just kind of proceed about their lives when a teacher is in earshot and it’s not specifically time for a lesson, and I miss all of the little windows into their lives I’d get when they talk to their friends.

      I also miss Surprise Food. We’d often have someone bring in donuts or other snacks as a treat, and now that I’m home there are no more food surprises. I have plenty of junk food (among other things, I stocked up on tins of Christmas cookies at the after Christmas sales since those stay good for months and I planned to serve them at some meetings that won’t likely happen now), but things that I bought myself are not the same as things that just magically appear in the break room.

    13. Senior Montoya*

      I’m sad that I can’t bake for my colleagues. I love to cook, and it was so nice that they ate it all up.

    14. Chaordic One*

      I miss Starbucks. After they ordered the restaurants closed, they still had the drive-thru window open, but now even that is closed at the 2 nearest to my house and the only ones with drive-thru windows still open are too far out of the way to consider.

  19. Herding Butterflies*

    I know for many people the pandemic has highlighted how bad your management is. I know that I am lucky to still be working, but for each day that passes, my frustration with my management grows. They are tone deaf, unsympathetic….the horrible thing is that overall my company has been great, it’s just my direct management…..

    My question is how many of you would like to switch jobs when this is over (when and if the economy recovers)?

    1. Super Anon*

      I will definitely be trying to switch jobs. My employer hasn’t been too horrible. But, the whole WFH thing has turned my boss into a complete micromanager, and she seems like she is doing even less than when we were in the office.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      My frustration, stress, depression, and anxiety are at an all-time high. I was thinking about leaving before and am anxiously looking now.

      I keep telling myself that the economy is going to bounce back just to give myself hope. I can’t stand the thought of working here any more.

      1. KaliAZ*

        Yup I’m right there with you. Ever since this started I’m realizing the culture fit issues I thought were minor have driven my stress and anxiety through the roof.

        Starting my search again this weekend to give myself some hope.

    3. Mazzy*

      Can you be more specific? Tone deaf to what? I’m a manager and we haven’t been talking much about corona because I’m assuming employees don’t need or want to talk about corona yet again with me.

      1. Herding Butterflies*

        Tone deaf in that they expect work to go on like normal when there is nothing normal about this. I don’t have a printer or a scanner, so no I can’t just print that out, mark it up, scan it and send it out. No, I cannot market for new work when half my clients are shuttered. No, my billings will not meet expectations for this month as, again, half my clients are shuttered and thus half my projects are gone. No, I am not willing to call up my remaining clients and ask if they have any new projects (Really? WTF?) They are worried about to survive this crisis and how to pay their own staff; they aren’t thinking about projects right now. And on and on…..they are only looking at the $$ in this.

        1. Mazzy*

          Oh now I see! Yes a previous job made me reach out to people not ordering during the crash of late 2008. It felt like a punishment because it was all “duh you didn’t hear about the recession? I have no business.” And I think some people dropped us after I was forced to annoy them

          1. Herding Butterflies*

            Yes, and I fully understand that if we cannot create new business, my company will eventually not be able to afford all of us and layoff will happen. But for us, like you, there is no new business, and please stop beating on me to find it.

    4. Amanda*

      I’m actually really impressed with how my company is handling all of this, and my managers have been all around awesome. I went the other way. I was ligthly looking for somehing new before this started, and now I feel like it’s absolutely crazy to even consider leaving this company.

    5. Betty2*

      Me! I was already semi-looking, but things weren’t terrible and there are some good perks (government stability, good pay) that I’m really glad for right now. But omg. The miscommunication and poor management was hard in the office and next to impossible from home. This is also highlighting how much extra responsibility I’m expected to shoulder compared to my colleagues, without any kind of recognition or promotion. I’m being pinged before and after hours and asked to do things under incredibly short timelines with little to no direction, whereas some of my colleagues literally don’t have computers (half of us got assigned laptops, the other half of us have to work on our personal devices…yup, and this is government) & continue to be paid more than me. (Which is great for them!! I don’t want anyone to lose their income. But come on.)

    6. Aggretsuko*

      I’ve wanted to for years, but I’m trapped.

      I’m really tired of bringing up *WHOPPING PROBLEM* every 2-3 days to management and getting ignored about it and they won’t let me notify people that it is a problem.

    7. coffeeandpearls*

      The break in pace and routine at work has been a good reminder for me how unhealthy my office is and how micromanaged we are. Now the person doing the micromanagement is off their routine and they are not the best at technology, so they haven’t been able to do it full force for the past month. It’s been really nice. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way! I expect in the next few weeks, they will adapt and ramp back up. I’ll be polishing up my resume – but who’s hiring?!

    8. Lentils*

      Ugh, I’m sorry you’ve been having such a bad time with your direct management. Sending sympathy and e-hugs if you’d like them <3

      Pretty much everyone in my department (finance) is all but saying they're leaving as soon as they can. Most of us are being forced to come into the office despite being in one of the first hard-hit areas, and my company has been laughably disinterested in actually trying to ensure our safety. (They passed out one free bandana to each of us yesterday! And now we have the option of calling into meetings from our desks. This works maybe 50% of the time.) I already knew it was a sketchy company but this just confirms it – I'm not staying here one minute longer than I need to.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        One free bandana? That’s cheesy. Sure, I could probably eke two masks out of one bandana, but I’ve been sewing for years.

        If you work can be done remotely, the fact that they don’t enable it is … callous, at best.

    9. Aren't we supposed to know better?*

      Ooof I am so much in the same boat. I work for a public agency, and they’ve broadly been good, but my direct leadership has been awful, and keeps getting worse! Super unsympathetic to their employees to the point that I’m losing respect for them as fellow humans. And on the work side, assigning projects but immediately forgetting about them, making us spin our wheels re-doing the same steps because they can’t remember that we did them, and nit picking the (actually pretty impressive!) stuff we are able to get done with no direction whatsoever.

      I really like this organization, and my job, but I’m going to have a hard time staying with it once this is over. I feel disillusioned.

      1. Kowalski! Options!*

        Same here. I never realized that I worked with so many technophobic people who haven’t learned the most basic features of everyday software; who lash out at underlings in times of stress rather than rally the troops instead of seeing who can handle what and who can contribute to what; and how badly managed some of my coworkers are, because some supervisors are burning two or three people out while the rest are twiddling their fingers. I don’t know about the other teams in my division, but frankly, my bunch are slightly less functional than the Marx Brothers’ dressing room arrangements.
        I’m lucky that I have a skill set that’s in high demand because, frankly, once all of this is over, I’m THIS CLOSE to walking away and becoming a freelancer again.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My management’s failings aren’t specifically highlighted by the pandemic, but they’re still there. And they’re not related to callousness re the situation. I am searching. I expect it to be slower than usual, but considering “usual” for me has been just over a month, I do think I’ve got a good shot at something new before fall at latest.

    11. N*

      Desperately. So tone deaf. My boss told me I was “more likely to get covid at the grocery store” than at work. I work in a clinic that provides rehab services.

    12. CastIrony*

      I want to get a new job or quit my cafeteria job. I don’t want to go back after seven years of being part-time and knowing who my supervisor prefers. Besides, the environment is very negative.

    13. Senior Montoya*

      Me. Because right at the start, our bosses worked out a rotating skeleton crew to staff the office and work remotely with our students, and TPB slapped it down and said (while WFH mind you), you all have to come in and you have to see students face to face.

      Within a few days the county and then governor put in a stay at home order. But I will never never never forget that they thought our lives were so unimportant compared to “how it would look.”

    14. First Time Caller*

      This tracks for me too. I was already looking (and in fact have an interview later today!) because I was frustrated by the management in my current role. My boss has also been asking me to do outreach to our customers ostensibly to “see how they are doing” but really to remind them that we are still filling orders. It feels more than a little icky. If I liked this job more I would be more than happy to continue working from home, but I think I am willing to start a new job (in what our area considers an “essential” industry, no less) rather than just trying to wait it out…

  20. Master Bean Counter*

    In many ways I love this. I can accomplish so much at home. No commute is a huge plus.
    But this has also brought out a fatal flaw of my boss. He doesn’t communicate well. He neglected to tell me something very important this month that ended up with me looking like an inconsiderate fool. It’s amazing how much I miss not being in the office next to him.
    It’s also made me realize when this is over I probably should start looking for something new before my boss ends up tanking my career at the current company.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Yeah, management skills in person are different that management skills while WFH.

      But why wait until this is over?

      1. Master Bean Counter*

        Nobody is hiring right now. At least not in my area. Also I’m set up on a pretty sweet work from home deal that no other employer in the area is doing as well as my company.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          If you like working from home, try looking for permanent remote jobs. I’m still getting job alerts that show those positions are still out there, and most of them are with companies not headquartered in my state (I currently work for a company that doesn’t even have a field office in my state).

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      > He neglected to tell me something very important this month that ended up with me looking like an inconsiderate fool. It’s amazing how much I miss not being in the office next to him.

      Sounds like important info you rely on isn’t actually communicated by your boss but just “heard” by you sitting next to him and so absorbing it in a 3rd party eavesdropping sort of way?

      That doesn’t sound right. Have the conversation with your boss about the situation that ended up with you looking like an “inconsiderate fool” and how ‘we’ can avoid this kind of thing in the future by communicating more directly (e.g. a daily/weekly review or whatever makes sense in your situation).

  21. Super Anon*

    So I’m really bummed that I’m probably going to be stuck in my current job for the next couple years, and I feel super guilty about that. There are 22 million people out of work, so I feel like I should just be grateful that I have a job. Especially, as I’m in an industry that is directly impacted by the limit on gatherings (although not immediately impacted). But, I’m still bummed about it, and I’m annoyed at myself for not jumping ship earlier. I lived through the great recession and I was just feeling confident enough again to change jobs.

    However, I’m also loving working from home.

    1. ThatOneRedhead*

      I found out yesterday that I didn’t get an internal position that I applied for and am with you in feeling stuck.

    2. Paris Geller*

      I can sympathize with this to a small degree. I am so grateful to have a job, but at the beginning of the year I was planning on apply for new jobs with an increase in pay & responsibilities, and that seems so unlikely now. I don’t dislike my job, but I was really ready for something new. I had started to feel like my career was starting to come together.

  22. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

    My home wifi is out and my ISP keeps telling me we’ve exhausted all of our remote troubleshooting options and the next step is for a technician visit. I’m asking if I can mail them my modem to exchange for one I can install myself, or even just buy one to install myself, and they keep telling me that it’s not possible to return my modem by mail, but they can schedule a visit for me. I’d literally rather exhaust all my PTO than do that in my area right now. I live close to my office and nobody else is coming in, so I’m able to make it work until I can get a hotspot set up in my apartment, but this is exhausting and stressful. I’d rather just not go outside at all.

    1. fposte*

      You don’t need your ISP’s permission to buy your own modem, though; if that’s what you want to do, just order one online. Many devices list whose specs they meet, so it’s usually pretty easy.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        I’m aware. I’m still charged a monthly rental fee for the modem I have, which I’m waiting to find out whether they’ll waive if they won’t accept a return by mail.

        1. dealing with dragons*

          do they have drop off spots? last time I had cable there was a place you would chuck the box into to return it so there was no contact

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      I’m so sorry this is happening to you. Losing my wifi is one of my biggest fears right now. I can use my phone as a hotspot, but would burn through my data plan fairly quickly. I’m starting to wonder if I should buy a back up router the next time something like this hits.

      1. Grace*

        My work has said that they’ll be happy to expense any overrun on phone data plans caused by hotspotting when internet is out. I know not all companies are that generous, but when it’s a choice between doing work and doing no work… It might be worth bringing up?

    3. Brett*

      Check with your cell company. Our company (Verizon) tripled our data limits for free so that we can hotspot if needed. If your home internet is out, your company might give you a lot of free extra data for a month or give you a really good deal on data temporarily.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        This is fantastic, thanks – my company is working with me to get a hotspot sent to my place and I can expense that and everything associated with it, but I’ve been using my personal phone as a hotspot for non-work use and I’m expecting the “you’re almost out of data” text any minute now.

        1. Brett*

          Definitely give your cell phone company a call and let them know what is going on. A lot of them are being very flexible right now.

    4. Granger Chase*

      You also can try calling again. My coworker’s elderly parents were told they needed to have a tech come into the home to fix their phone/internet. They weren’t willing to take the risk, but needed a working phone, so coworker made several calls to the company until they were able to get someone to walk them through how to fix the problem themselves. I’m sorry this company is being difficult about helping you without having to come into your home!

      Possible alternative suggestion: our local library is closed but they did send out an email to everyone saying that their free WiFi is still in place and you should be able to use it throughout the whole parking lot. I’m not sure if you have a library/cafe/school in your area that you might be able to park at and try to work that way? I know it’s an option I was considering when our internet was really spotty, as we aren’t willing to have anyone new come in our home right now due to comprised immune systems in the household.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        That’s my hope! They keep insisting they can’t get someone on the phone with me until I schedule a visit, and I’m not able to get a human on the phone when I call their customer service line, so I’ve just scheduled a visit with no intention of actually having it so I can get a phone call and eventually hopefully get someone to talk me through the steps, lmao. Telling them “there have been confirmed covid cases in my building and it’s not safe for the technician to come to my apartment” has done nothing to deter them from insisting it’ll be fiiiiiiiine.

        Thanks for the tip about the library!

    5. 00ff00Claire*

      If you’re comfortable buying your own, I would try to go that route. I had to take equipment back a few years ago and I put it off a long time because it was such a hassle. I don’t remember the company caring how long it took for me to take it back. If you’re willing to buy one yourself they but are that insistent you return the current one and they won’t let you mail in the modem, could you arrange for the technician to come out and just pick up the modem if they want it back that bad? You could leave it out for them to pick up like a reverse package delivery or something. Or maybe they would even be willing to let the technician bring new equipment and pick up the old without coming into your home?

    6. Gatomon*

      That’s ridiculous. If the modem is still syncing and it’s just wifi that is broken, you should be able to plug in any off-the-shelf wireless router and get a functioning network. Worst case scenario you may be double-NAT’ing, which can impact performance somewhat, but is obviously better than no internet.

    7. Holy Moley*

      IT person here: go on your ISP website and look at their approved modem list and buy one online at curbside pickup at an electronics store. Once you swap it out, just call the ISP helpdesk and they can add the modem to your account.

      I did this a few months ago, spent $100 on my own modem and got it fixed. Depending on your wireless router, if you rent from them they can give you a new one or you can install your own. Hope that helps :)

  23. Eillah*

    My ADHD is *out of control* right now. Making myself work feels like trying to push myself through a brick wall. Does anyone have motivation hacks where you trick yourself into doing things? I find it so, so, *so* difficult to make myself do things, even when I absolutely have to.

    1. ynotlot*

      One that works for me in a pinch is give yourself another critical task to do that you want to do even LESS. Then, set it up so that when you procrastinate that task, the procrastination is doing the other task.

      1. juliebulie*

        I’m in the same boat as Eillah. I tried choosing between doing my job vs. an even more unappealing household task, and… I’ve gotten more household tasks done in the last month than I did in the last couple of years. I’m my own worst boss. I’m intractable.

        So your particular strategy is working for me; just not working the way I had hoped.

        1. new kid*

          This is me! When I suddenly have a burst of productivity, it’s used up doing something around the house and I can’t seem to redirect the same energy back at work stuff.

    2. The Green Lawintern*

      Have you tried using a pomodoro timer? Twenty minutes of work followed by a five minute break. Sometimes it was the only way I could force myself to study in school.

      1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

        This is what I was going to suggest. The pomodoro technique the only way I was able to write my dissertation and I’ve gone back to it now. I’m a regular remote employee (with no kids), so I have no excuses for why this period is harder for me now, but I need to let myself indulge in breaks and then get back to work in order to get anything accomplished.

        1. Justin*

          Yes, that’s how I do things with my own focus issues. The specific lengths are different (usually it’s “get this THING done, break, get this THING done, break) but it works for me.

    3. Elenna*

      Yeah, I don’t have an official diagnosis but I suspect I might have ADHD, and focusing for WFH is, uh, difficult. Doesn’t help that it’s a slow period at work right now so I don’t really feel pressured to do things fast. It sort of helps when I have a list of stuff that needs doing instead of just one thing, so I can jump between them. Listening to Twitch streams in the background… uh… sort of helps? On one hand it gives the “bored, need something new” voice in my brain something to listen to, on the other hand it’s obviously another distraction. I’m hoping it’ll get better once we get more busy in a couple weeks.

    4. Kristin*

      Same, same, same. I know it doesn’t help that I have my personal laptop next to me and, most of all, can’t put down Animal Crossing… but that’s because it’s a hyperfixation that’s keeping me somewhat sane. I don’t have any tips, just solidarity.

    5. Justin*

      Interesting, mine is much worse in my open office. At home I have been able to compartmentalize. So I suppose what helps me is I say, from (time) to (time), it’s going to be work, and nothing else. And then I build in a lot of breaks. And I get some tea (or whatever) as a reward.

    6. irene*

      I’m not WFH but i recently got my ADHD diagnosis and was put on medication for it, and I finally feel like a normal person? with regards to energy levels anyway, and that helps me with feeling more motivation and less boredom (i’ve noticed since that when i get more tired/mentally worn out, it’s harder to keep on task and i look for other sources of stimulation, which looks a lot like getting bored quickly, and i have a harder time with multiple stimuli fighting for attention)

      I don’t know if you have the resources to re-evaluate your medication situation, that maybe WFH needs something different than you’re used to.

      But one thing that has helped me a LOT is the To Do List. I have hung picture frames throughout my house with plain white behind the glass (because they’re cheap at the dollar store!) and use whiteboard markers to make lists of things i want to accomplish, related to whatever tasks belong in a particular room. Though my bedroom has lots of chore things, too, so i can see the list from bed (this helps when i get stuck in the morning and need a reason to actually get up). There’s lots of unpleasant, boring things like mopping or cleaning toilets, but also fun things like reading a book or going for a bike ride. I usually do a week at a time, so that my weekdays after work are ok to do the list if i’m not too tired, but it’s really meant for weekends. I don’t expect to completely finish a list every week. But there is a gamification element and satisfaction for accurately predicting what i’ll have spoons for, and being able to cross off a particularly annoying task.

      Can you adapt something like this for work? Mix up good stuff and hard stuff, just think of it as one task out of many, and leave the reminders around your place? That’s why I like the picture frames (my teacher sister taught me that it’s cheaper than white boards! and you can make the background nice, or use a typed list as a shortcut, and if it stops working for you, you’ve got usable picture frames). I can move them where I need the reminders, and swap out, say, a list of things I have to do to leave for work with a list of things i have to check before taking my bike somewhere.

      Though tbh I’m very reliant on visual cues, color coding, and lots of lists to help my memory along. I have multiple lists and whiteboards at work, where I use a combination of Pleasant + Unpleasant tasks and deadlines to help keep motivated. I don’t need to have the reminders to separate my WFH and home stuff, but what I listed above, with the extra picture frames, is my plan for if/when i stop coming into the office (we’re essential services, i’m too new for wfh, but lots of office staff only come in once or twice a week). I’ve always struggled with WFH when doing online school or just trying to have a WFH day to get things done, but that was before I was diagnosed and thought my struggles were just a matter of willpower!

    7. Curmudgeon in California*

      Mine is going crazy too. I end up switching back and forth between so many attention sinks, and trying to do regular work, that I feel like a starfish. I can’t concentrate for more than 15 minutes at a time (some of this is the crazy increase in interruptions from deliveries and the gladfly roommate).

      If it wasn’t for my habit of documenting everything in the past, I would start leaving out steps and screwing up. Same with to-dos. Seriously, if I don’t write it down, it doesn’t exist.

      I make myself do the drudge stuff by telling myself that if I didn’t have that to do, I’d be bored.

  24. SociallyDistant*

    Our company laid off several people, then sent a mass email soliciting people to volunteer to be furloughed. People are of course worried. If they volunteer, will they be seen as not really “needing” a job and then be laid off later? If they don’t volunteer, will they be furloughed anyway but then miss out on the promised “incentives” the company is offering for those who volunteer?
    With the extra $600 from unemployment, some people stand to make more money unemployed, but with the unemployment offices being so overwhelmed, who’s to say you’d actually see the money right away? And they’re only giving people 36hrs to volunteer, which implies the INvoluntary furloughs are coming next week anyway…

    1. Tuckerman*

      Ugh, yeah, I know it probably varies state to state, but in my area people who applied for unemployment 3 weeks ago still haven’t seen a payment. And they won’t even begin processing for self-employed until 4/25. That puts a lot of people in a rough situation.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      My company did that as well but they have a good track record of bringing people back as promised so quite a few people in the higher risk categories took the offer right away. Helped out my sister and her husband as they were able to keep their jobs and move to the same shift.

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      I would be concerned about this too – my state already said our unemployment fund will be insolvent by June, and claims are taking forever to be processed (not their fault), so there’s no guarantee there’s even going to be money left by the time they get to your claim.

  25. LDN Layabout*

    My org has a lot of ex-frontline staff and pretty much everyone has gone back, whether it’s nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, ambulance control room, as well as special constables and army reservists getting permission to be full time there (on full pay from us, obv).

    That’s in addition to those volunteering on various fronts.

    Some people are relating their experiences back to those of us still doing org work and to be honest it’s how I start my day every day now and it helps (and hopefully I’ll be volunteering at the Crick soon to support the testing ramp-up).

  26. Buni*

    One month after I more-or-less stopped working, my boss has just told me I can be furloughed (actually she offered to ‘furlong’ me, but I’m presuming she doesn’t intend to enter me into the 3.15 Derby and let me keep the winnings….).

    Up ’til now I was a kinda zero-hours-contract hourly paid worker – I submitted my hours at the end of each month, they paid me accordingly. I can still do little bits, but in a normal month my hours as of today would have been 30-ish, and it’s actually been 5. This is my one of two jobs, and I’m completely out on the other one, so this is FANTASTIC.

    1. fposte*

      My love for my immediate co-workers and staff has swelled. They have been so wonderful and been my bright lights during all of this.

      But I feel like I’m in a foxhole with them and nobody else in the army matters to me. Every now and then I get an email from above and I’m like “Who *are* you and why do I care what you say?” I”m a little worried about my ability to relate to my department when things come back to reality.

      1. fposte*

        Ugh, nesting fail; I’m sorry. I was going to comment on “furlonged,” which is unfortunately very funny in the middle of news that is not.

    2. Recreational Moderation*

      You just annoyed the heck out of my cat, who was dislodged from my lap when I burst out laughing at the idea of being “furlonged.” Actually, though, running in the Derby sounds like more fun than being furloughed … and I’d bet on you!
      Still giggling.

  27. Sleepy*

    How do people react when they hear coworkers are not social distancing? I was flabbergasted when one said that he was still practicing with his band (they have since stopped…I think) and another said he had dinner with a friend this weekend.

    1. Super Anon*

      I have one co-worker who is still living life as normal, and putting everything on facebook. She’s also complaining that everything is closed. I’ve had to block her, because I find it incredibly frustrating to see that she’s not taking this seriously, and it’s people like her that will make the shut downs go on longer.

      However, I also try and remind myself that I can’t control others I can only control myself.

    2. Sidestep*

      I have one colleague who attended some of those “defy the virus” parties back before our state put in a stay-at-home order. I’ve just headdesked and avoided conversation, really – we’re all working from home so there’s not much I can do besides (◔_◔) at their social media

    3. Bostonian*

      It’s very jarring and disappointing, but I try to keep judgement to myself (or just vent to my husband!). Our upstairs neighbors have very much not been social distancing, which does indirectly affect us, but I’d rather not say anything and just take extra precautions. I don’t think my saying anything is going to change anyone’s behavior.

      And in the case of coworkers where you still need to maintain good relationships… I think if anything, the safest bet is to respond to a coworker talking about social events with “Oh… so no social distancing?” in a confused/curious tone. And then leave it at that. If someone is the conscientious type who would change their behavior, then that might do the trick. If they’re not, there’s probably nothing you can do.

    4. Roscoe*

      It depends what they are doing. Like, a friend of mine had a few of us over in has backyard recently, for a couple of hours. All the chairs were at least 6 feet apart. People brought their own drinks, no one entered the house. It was 100% fine. I know some people would look unfavorably on that, but it really helped my mental state, and I don’t feel like I was any closer to catching anything than I am by going and picking up food or grocery shopping.

      But, to me, its not my place to judge what they are doing. As long as this is in effect, not my business. I’m not coming in contact with them, so what they do is on them.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        A neighborhood just had a street party like that and the cops were called. They drove down the street, noticed that everyone was 6ft+ apart and told everyone they were doing a great job and to keep having fun. My favorite neighbors are too far down the road but we did drop off a gift on their front porch (they were supposed to go to Hawaii for 2 weeks and had been planning the trip for almost 2 years and had to cancel so I got them a pineapple, some rum, and coconut candles) and talk for 30 minutes or so from their front yard.

      2. pancakes*

        You have no idea whether it was or wasn’t “100% fine” because people can be asymptomatic carriers. The idea that people who are sick with the virus reliably look and sound sick is nonsense. We’ve known that for months now. Why are you denying it? Whether you want it to be or not, your own denial of basic facts is the business of everyone you come into contact with. People cannot survive with food and medicine but they absolutely can survive without backyard parties, so please stop trying to use “I don’t feel any closer to risk” as a deflection.

        1. Roscoe*

          Ok, fine, no one can know for sure if anything is 100% fine. My point is, we followed social distancing guidelines as they are laid out. If you would particularly like to never go outside, that is your choice. But, we were all 6-10 feet apart. So my risk of catching anything was no more than if I’m outside on a walk and someone is walking 6-10 feet in front or behind me. Luckily I don’t need your approval for what I’m doing.

          1. pancakes*

            You have entirely misunderstood what I was trying to say if your takeaway is that I like staying indoors forever! I was talking about your thought process, not my preferences, which are beside the point. You also appear to misunderstand the nature of risk. Yes, you are increasing the risk of a poor health outcome for yourself and everyone you come into contact with by choosing to break quarantine to socialize in addition to breaking quarantine to get food and medicine. Whether anyone approves or doesn’t approve is entirely beside the point. That you have the personal agency to choose to break quarantine is not an argument in favor of breaking quarantine.

            1. Old and Don’t Care*

              Breaking quarantine is not the best choice of words. Most people are not under legal quarantine. In my state what Roscoe describes would be discouraged but not outlawed.

              1. pancakes*

                I wasn’t saying or trying to suggest that what he’s doing is illegal, and regardless of my usage (or yours, for that matter), “quarantine” is not a legal term.

      3. CheeryO*

        That’s a false equivalency, though? Of course the grocery store is riskier, and it will be even more risky as long as people are using the 6-foot thing as a loophole to keep having in-person gatherings.

        1. Roscoe*

          How is it a loophole. We are outside. If I’m walking outside, and someone is 6-10 feet in front of me, am I using that as a loophole in your opinion? I live in an apartment building. Just by checking my mail, taking out the garbage, etc I’m probably exposing myself/others to things more than being 6+ feet away from someone outside.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            You, like many people, have misunderstood the six feet rule. It’s not “everything is fine if you’re six feet apart.” It’s “if you absolutely must go out, staying six feet apart will help minimize risk.” But public health experts still want you avoiding all non-essential trips.



            And for good measure:


      4. Atalanta0jess*

        The other thing to consider is that as far as I’m aware, length of exposure is significant. When they talk about contract tracing, I’ve heard examples of looking at people who have been exposed to someone with COVID within a 6 foot distance for a length of over 15 minutes. So passing someone at the store is a less likely exposure than spending a significant amount of time with the same person.

      5. Litebrite*

        Just wanted to say, Roscoe, that I’m with you. We’ve done a similar thing with our neighbors and we’re all better off for it, imo.

        1. Roscoe*

          Thank you. It really does help with people’s mental health issues. Its funny, I’ve seen many people who typically would say “take care of your mental health” who now want to ignore that aspect because of things that “could” happen vs. what is actually happening to me now. But I’m single and live alone. I’m not doing great some days. I’ve definitely broken down. That was the pick me up I needed.

          I’d also be willing to wager some of the people who are on the “don’t ever leave your house unless absolutely necessary” side are people with a family living with them and or yards that they can go excercise or enjoy themselves in. Its a lot easier to be on your moral high horse when that is your situation, vs. in an apartment alone

    5. Lizzy May*

      I have a coworker who told me that because the cell phone service is spotty in his house he goes to his parents’ home every day to “work from home.” He’s younger than me but his parents have to be in their 50s. He’s also still going and meeting with clients and coming in to the office every so often. It’s incredibly frustrating and while I don’t know his parents, I’m scared for them.

    6. Another manager*

      The issue I’m having related to this: I am working from home, but supervise staff who have to work on-site. One of them is super-fastidious about hygiene and social distancing. Another one in the same shop thinks the whole thing is silly, so he doesn’t take it seriously.

      The careful one wants to stay home, but get paid anyway, since in his mind, the reason he can’t come to work is because his co-worker is endangering everyone else. He’s complained to the union and our HR department. My usual approach in these cases would be to go to the work site and facilitate a conversation between the conflicting workers. But that would risk furthering the spread of COVID-19. I just lack the mojo to compel these two to resolve their conflict by calling them on the phone. There’s a Skype teleconference scheduled for tomorrow; if that doesn’t resolve the problem, I’m thinking about calling an in-person meeting and having it outdoors, so I can shout at them from 20 feet away …

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Honestly, like yesterday’s letter, I don’t think this is a “work this conflict out yourselves” situation. Tell the one who’s being reckless that he needs to stop, period.

        1. asterisk*

          I’m aware of a similar situation.

          This place of business is closed to the public, but still has employees working onsite (following social distance guidelines). One employee, however, feels the whole coronavirus thing is being overblown and isn’t doing anything personally to stop the spread, including having family visiting every other weekend from another area. It’s affecting morale at the workplace, as other members of the staff are feeling exposed/compromised by this employee’s attitudes and actions.

          From a performance standpoint, the employee is productive and is following social distancing guidelines while at work, but his/her behaviour off the clock is putting other staff members at risk, and the employer has responsibilities to them, as well. What can the manager legally, sensibly do?

          1. pancakes*

            The other workers are compromised and are having their risk of exposure to virus increased by their coworker’s failure to abide quarantine guidelines, not merely “feeling exposed.” Why wouldn’t the manager take the same disciplinary steps they’d ordinarily take if an employee made a point of antagonizing others and putting them at risk? The behavior happens outside the workplace, yes, but so do many other termination-worthy behaviors. If, for example, the employee was drinking at home before work and picking up coworkers in a company vehicle while intoxicated, there would hopefully be no confusion about that being a big problem. This isn’t much different.

          2. DKMA*

            This version is a hard one. I think there are two choices:
            1) Institute even more on site social distancing policies, so that team members feel (and are) safer even if they are working with someone who may be careless outside the workplace.
            2) Institute policies around not allow access to the building of you have travelled to [Insert clear guidelines] or visited with people who have travelled [Insert clear guidelines] or attended any event with >X people. You may want/need to offer a paid 14-day self-isolation if you create a policy like this though.

            #2 sounds tricky, but I know companies did something similar early in this tragedy with people who travelled to Europe or had household members who had done the same.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      Hm. Well, these examples do not sound like large gatherings by any means. Assuming those friends or family aren’t and haven’t been sick, and have mostly been keeping to themselves or within a small circle of friends and family and are taking washing and disinfecting precautions and not getting too close. I don’t know about the band, maybe they were out in garage and/or have a big space to practice in without getting too close to each other? Kind of depends on what they’re doing and how many.

      It’s still a risk, but maybe not as huge of one like travel or going to more crowded places like the store. If you are a high-risk group for COVID, or have household members who are, then no don’t do that.

      1. Pennyworth*

        We have been told that any contact anywhere will increase the risk, and that sharing an enclosed space is the riskiest. The virus can hang in the air for three hours. You can look up images to see how much visible vapor we breathe out in cold weather. In an enclosed space any virus being exhaled just gets more and more concentrated with each exhalation even if you stay 6 feet apart apart. It can travel a long way in the open too. I once sat in a park with a friend on a very still spring day, and her cigarette smoke stayed in a visible ribbon that slowly traveled about 30 feet before dispersing. Anyone sittng directly downwind would have got a lungful of whatever she had just exhaled.

    8. Diahann Carroll*

      Not coworkers, but my apartment building shut down all of our common areas except the laundry rooms on each floor, and the shut down included our rooftop courtyard. Most people complied, no problem, but last weekend, I saw a couple of people sitting around a table together from my balcony – not remotely six feet apart – and I contacted building management about it. On Monday, they sent maintenance over to our building and they took the tables and chairs away and locked the doors to the courtyard. These damn ignorant ass people are not going to cause an effing outbreak in my building on my watch!

    9. zora*

      Not coworkers, but my upstairs neighbors have been throwing parties every weekend, with at least 8-10 people tromping in and out of the building. I’m so confused about what they are thinking, but we’re staying inside, so I’m not worried about any contact with these people. Just appalled and incapable of wrapping my mind around it.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Pray that they don’t become infected and cause an outbreak in your building.

        People are so f%#*ng inconsiderate and entitled.

    10. Retail not Retail*

      People aren’t even doing it at work – sharing vehicles when walking isn’t that hard.

      I also have a 60 something coworker who declared she doesn’t feel fragile so she intends to work even though we can be paid to stay home. Same with the 72 year old. Guys. We could KILL you. Literally.

  28. Diahann Carroll*

    I’m doing okay as long as the weather holds up. I posted in another thread here that the past couple of weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster what with the shelter-in-place order in my state in full effect since mid-March and tornado season swinging in. I had a breakdown a week or so ago when, in the middle of the night before I went to bed, tornado sirens were going off and the winds were knocking everything around outside and the news kept threatening power outages in my area. I spent two hours huddled in my bathroom crying because this combined with this virus was too much. Luckily, my area wasn’t hit, but the state next to me was and power was knocked out at hundreds of locations in my state, but it’s like, seriously? Can we get a damn break here?

    Anyway, my mom made masks for everyone in my family – I believe she mailed my brother and his family some yesterday. She’s bringing mine, and some toilet paper, down to my apartment tomorrow.

    Work is still going even though sales are slow and submission deadlines for proposals keep getting pushed back. I’m very fortunate to still be paid at my full rate (even though our bonuses will be cut by 10% starting in Q2), and my company has set up a disaster relief task force with multiple charities identified for employees to donate to – they’re matching whatever we all end up donating. And apparently some of our more wealthy employees, who want to remain anonymous, are doubling the match to the donations we make. I hope this means employee jobs are secure through the end of the year – my manager is a shareholder in the company and assured me they have enough cash reserves that all 3500+ employees can have their salaries paid out. Don’t know if our benefits (of which the company pays the bulk of) will be safe if this goes on much longer, though.

    1. Jennifer*

      I’m so sorry about your breakdown. We had tornadoes here as well, plus dealing with other health problems. It just feels like too much sometimes.

      I hope you’re feeling better.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Thanks, Jennifer. Yesterday we were under a high wind advisory, so that made me a little skittish, but my nerves are starting to settle. I just need to use this weekend to really sleep because I didn’t sleep a wink the night of the storm (which was last week) and have had piss poor sleep ever since. Oh – and then my acid reflux decided to make a reappearance after 8 years of being under control, so I’ve been going through most of my days feeling like I’m thisclose to a heart attack. Thankfully, my OTC omeprazole has started to kick in.

        1. Jennifer*

          I hope things continue to improve. Yoga has been helping me calm my nerves but I know it’s not for everyone.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            I’ve been doing yoga just about every day for years, and it helps for the time I’m doing it, but not really any other time. It does remind me to breathe, which I guess will come in handy if I do catch the virus.

  29. Gallery Mouse*

    I am grateful for websites like this where people share advice and honestly visiting it on a daily basis gives me a sense of ‘normalcy,’ however the daily anxiety and chest pains (from anxiety) are slowly wearing on me. I am so lucky to have a job during a time like this but I do often resent it because on one hand it allows me to focus on something else, but on the other hand it doesnt allow me to focus on myself and what is going on around me. I’ve never worked longer hours or had so much stress. Part of what makes this job so lonely is that we absorb everyone’s complaints and we dont have anyone to turn to (which is why this site is a blessing!). We have no idea what the new reality will be like in the future.
    On a separate note…what websites is everyone visiting to stay sane? is back on my radar :)

    1. Blueberry*

      That sounds so difficult. I have nothing to offer but good vibes, but I send those to you!

    2. Kristin*

      Yeah, people talk about how at least they now have free time to do X, Y, and Z, but for a lot of us, it’s not that way. We still have to work, but in a different location, and we still have all the anxiety and stress of the world on us. It’s great that we still have jobs and therefore are more financially stable, but it’s just trading one stress for the other.

      I’ve been watching Bon Appetit videos, mostly! And poking at pintrest.

      1. JustaTech*

        I live for the Bon Appetit videos! The coffee one, especially. I knew Chris would be a total coffee nerd. (In the best possible way.)

      2. Gallery Mouse*

        Ohhh Bon Appetit! I’ll check those out – anything to get a break from the news. Thank you!!

  30. Mazzy*

    I’m trying to be a cool manager and let people be independent adults but I’m seeing too much stuff not getting done and people logged off for hours and it’s starting to make me look bad. Now I need to start managing more actively again. I asked one person if he was having issues with certain things and he said everything was fine. Then why is stuff not getting done. I’m really frustrated because people are now going to think I’m micromanaging but won’t acknowledge that their slacking off half of the day. They’re not realizing I put pressure on management to create on or two of the roles and management wants them to be producing or there is no reason to keep them.

    1. Mediamaven*

      We are having some of that too. Some people are thriving at home and some people are clearly taking advantage. The outcome of this whole experiment for me is that completely virtual work is not conducive to success. I’ve had to had some really serious discussions with some of my staff. But I find that most of them, when they understand how dire the situation is and what my expectations are, start performing better.

      1. Spearmint*

        I wouldn’t assume the less productive people are necessarily taking advantage. The stress of the current situation is hitting some people harder than others. Also, a lot of people find it difficult to focus on work when at home, even if they want to. I have always found it much harder to focus on work when I’m home. This has been true of me from high school onward.

        1. Mazzy*

          “Take advantage” isn’t the best phrase. But I also have some employees who have said that they don’t like being micromanaged and they like to work independently on projects, So four weeks into working from home, they should be able to motivate themselves and force themselves to concentrate to complete at least some things if they still want to keep up that same reputation

          1. Mediamaven*

            Perhaps it’s not the right phrase but my team is very young without a huge amount of responsiblity (no kids, many of them are staying with family) so, it feels a bit like that sometimes. I think they don’t really understand the magnitude of what’s happening right now. I’m only person I know who in our industry hasn’t cut pay, lay people off, all that. But to do that and keep people safe, they have to work. If we lose business because we don’t produce for our clients then that changes. When someone is staying on the clock but disappearing at 2 p.m. for the day it’s not a good look.

            1. shb*

              I manage a similar team (young, no kids/spouses, some staying with family) and they are definitely reporting varying levels of stress/overwhelm/under-productivity. You can’t discount the emotional toll the situation is taking on many people, even those without apparent responsibilities. Further, you don’t know what else they may be dealing with: sick roommate(s), high-risk or sick family members, mental health concerns, etc.

              I appreciate that you have a bottom line to worry about, too, but anyone can be struggling right now. The more understanding and flexible I am with my staff, the more forthcoming and cooperative and hard-working they seem to be.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Set up weekly 1-2-1s (with imminent start dates) to track the work.. ahem… “catch up about how you are doing in these times”; bring up the concerns.

      If you are actually seeing “people logged off for hours” and the lack of accomplishing things is reflecting on your team/dept as a whole — you have more than enough standing to address it now!

      It isn’t “micromanaging” to address the issue that a lot of stuff isn’t getting done and you want to understand why.

    3. LCS*

      I’m normally pretty hands off in terms of day to day management of their tasks – I’ve got a fairly mature professional team – but since we went to full WFH I’ve requested a weekly Monday e-mail from everyone on their key items to accomplish for the week, and a Friday update to account for how they made out against those weekly goals. I don’t care when or how it gets done, and I recognize that 40+ hours is likely unrealistic for most right now with kids home and other stressors, but it’s a good way to put the ownership on them to make sure at least the big rock type items are progressing. If I see on Monday that they’re not being ambitious enough I can intervene early and make sure a couple items get added to the list.

      The template I’ve asked them to use also has a couple questions around things like stress level, family, connectivity/tech issues etc. so also a good opportunity to understand the full magnitude of barriers (if any) to make sure I’m being sensitive to that, and make sure we’re creating a weekly plan together that’s workable.

      It’s not perfect but I’m finding it to be a decent system so far.

    4. Sally Cat*

      I’m seeing the same thing with one employee. Just not logging in and doing what she should be doing. My other two are doing great as we figure out how to do parts of their jobs from home. We’ve figured out it’s much easier to do theirs in the office where we can ask each other questions more easily and have everything we need, but are making the best of it.

      This has been really hard on me because I’m the only one coming in to do the things that have do be done in the office. That means that I’m having to do about half of what they normally do like open mail and make deposits. Then I have to get the parts they can do from home to them. We’re a nonprofit and are in the middle of implementing a strategic plan too and my board chair doesn’t understand why we can’t be full steam ahead. I’m dead tired and I know many of our other volunteers are too.

  31. KayDeeAye*

    I’m actually doing fairly well. My at-home office set-up isn’t perfect, but it’s not bad, either. I needed some things to make it more comfortable and functional (I’d mostly used it pretty casually up until the plague hit), and fortunately, I realized this Day 1 (3/17), ordered them right away, and got them within a week or so. As those of you who have tried to order home office stuff have noticed, there was a time when such things weren’t easy to obtain! I hope that’s eased off now.

    My productivity is also pretty good – most of my job is writing and editing, and I can do that from home easily, for the most part.

    What is a problem is internet speed – what I have at home is MUCH slower than what I have at the office, which is a problem because I do have to work with some large files (such as photos and big PDFs), and large files make my company laptop, my wifi or my VPN (or possibly all three) very cranky. And slow. So slow. So very very very slow.

    But otherwise, things are going pretty well, so I feel fortunate. There are things about working from home that I’m really going to miss once this is all over (though my home wifi isn’t one of them).

    1. NotAPirate*

      My desk chair has a busted arm. That’s not a problem for casual use. But nine to six in it is killing me. I rebuilt it with cardboard and duct tape, we’ll see how long it lasts. I miss my work computer, it was so much faster than my 10 year old personal laptop. My boss offered the first week in April for me to go in and borrow my desktop PC from the office, but that’s an hour commute in public transit and things are bad here so I am muddling through.

    2. LawLady*

      I’m so thankful I already had a good home setup. I already worked a fair bit from home in the evenings and on weekends, but now I’m spending 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and having my amenities be decent is absolutely saving me.

      For people looking for at-home office chairs, I would highly recommend a gaming chair. They’re built for people to play video games for hours on end, and though I don’t play video games, I really appreciate that my chair has lumbar support, has a lot of adjust-ability, etc.

  32. Ijustwant2go2target*

    I am still going into work, as my position is essential. We are health care, but it is mental health facility (so no sick people). Parts of our organization have been laid off/furloughed until things calm down. I feel a bit guilty, but know I need to keep coming into to my part. Its hard being the only one to leave the house. My kids are going a bit nuts, not getting to see their peers and only spending time with each other. I am tired of my house, not being able to leave (except for work). I was actually doing ok up until this week. I am cranky, tired and stressed. I feel like every tickle cough or sneeze could be co-vid. I hope this week and next week my state peaks so we can see a down turn.

    1. KayDeeAye*

      My oldest friend also works with the mentally ill, so she’s considered essential, too. It’s hard on her, I know, so cyberhugs from me, if you want them!

  33. Jennifer*

    I just got a phone interview for tomorrow! I probably won’t get it but it’s reassuring to know there are some people hiring in my field. Just throwing some hope out there for those who need it.

  34. Anon for this*

    I’ve been furloughed for almost a month, and there’s a possibility the position will be totally eliminated. Here’s the problem: I am applying to medical school next year, which (unless things are totally shaken up in the fall, which is a possibility) will require me to take time off to fly to interviews. I was working at a place where a lot of people in my position go to healthcare grad school and it’s expected and understood that this time off will be granted. I’m applying to other jobs now, but I’m worried now that I’m applying to other jobs that (1) it will be reasonably obvious from my previous experience that this is my plan and I’ll only be around for a year, so there won’t be any point hiring me, and (2) that even if I get hired, I’ll have issues getting time off for interviews. Any advice?

    1. Brainstorming*

      I think there is a strong possibility that you will see changes to the medical school application process, including the possibility of interviewing virtually. I wouldn’t worry too much right now about the potential issues surrounding time off for those. Instead, focus on your applications and especially your cover letters. Think about it this way: how can your previous experience allow you to shine in these new roles? You might be putting more stock in your experience making leaving for medical school obvious than those reviewing your application will, particularly if you don’t make that the emphasis.

    2. coffeeandpearls*

      Med schools will not comment on this publicly at this stage since they hope to not have to do this (and the logistics of this are intensely complicated) – but they will move the interviews online if they have to. Committees in any case will also be forced to be more understanding of non-medically related work experience for the next year as many medical experiences are barred to students and prospective applicants right now. Even medical students can’t report to their clinical sites right now.

    3. Signe*

      I’m a doc who’s heavily involved in both her residency’s interview season and that of our attached med school. We’re making plans for both interview seasons to be virtual. There’s always the chance that we won’t have to implement those plans, but we are all expecting that we will.

  35. not_kate_winslet*

    I work in Public Health, and am technically “essential.” I supervise a team that normally does outreach and training to local health departments and the hospitality industry. My team has now all been reassigned to COVID-19 response roles, so I’m covering most of their regular work (the work that still exists anyway). The workload is technically manageable most days, but I’m working from home and having quite a bit of guilt about my staff needing to report to the office at the Health Department for their response roles.
    I sleep like crap, I drink too much, and my house is falling into squalor. It’s not fun times. I try to get out for a walk every day, but we’ve had a recent cold snap and the idea of walking outside when ice pellets are falling from the sky, while trying to avoid the runners huffing and puffing, is just too much to handle right now.

    1. NotAPirate*

      Instead of a walk, can you bundle up and sit in front of an open & sunny window for 15minutes a day? I read for vitamin D it’s better to get direct sunlight if you can (no glass).

      1. Atalanta0jess*

        I live in a split level, and try to just open the front door and step out onto the front stoop when I pass by. It helps.

      2. not_kate_winslet*

        I live on the first floor of a big ‘ol Victorian house, so I don’t get a lot of sunlight. But the weather is improving now, so hopefully my mood will too.

  36. Brett*

    I brought this up on the post a few days ago about flexibility for parents (who included all the product owners) at a small tech company.

    I’m noticing some distinct changes in pattern in agile workflows from everyone working at home.

    Standups are getting a lot easier to maintain. Our teams are doing such a great job with standups now, that they are considering switching to all online standups even after people are back in the office.

    Retros are harder. A lot harder. Tools just are not good enough to create the same experience as in-person retrospectives.

    Engineers are much more effective. Part of it is that the number of meetings has declined (because people are not used to online meetings, so they don’t do them unless they have to). But also, they don’t have to worry about drop by conversations. Everything is on slack (including slack calls) which doesn’t have the same immediacy as someone dropping by your cube. As a result, they are spending longer dedicated blocks working on development and getting more work done.
    From my perspective, as a principal engineer for several teams, it has also made it easier for me to work on longer non-development tasks and documents.

    But our product owners, scrummasters, and similar roles are suffering. Anything that requires getting a lot of people to talk together or talking to a lot of people to achieve goals. Their work is just so much more difficult when all of it is remote, and they are falling behind.

    I just thought the interesting part was watching our engineers take off in a work from home situation, and seeing standups become so much easier when that’s a ceremony that was always thought of as in-person focused.

    1. Alexandria*

      This is really interesting. I’m surprised that standups are going better – are they just more defined / faster?

      I totally get that this may work better for engineers. But the whole point is that the scrum master and product owners work is super important to actually getting anything out the door, so what works best for engineers might not actually be better for the company as a whole.

      1. Feline*

        I’m in an org that is transforming to Agile right now. Very painfully. So it colors my perception of this significantly.

        But shouldn’t a spike in productivity levels make management stop and think about what the engineers need to perform most productively and consider how to give them those things on a more regular basis to get more out of them? I don’t mean a shift to work from home, but at least give them walls instead of sticking them in an open concept? This seems like a really good example of how the work environment itself has grown to be a significant impediment. Yet companies use Agile as an excuse to remove walls and to put teams all up in each other’s faces with no personal space.

        1. Brett*

          You can have walls with agile and don’t need an open floor plan (unless you are doing mob programming).
          All of our engineers have cubes at minimum, and some even have offices. They still saw a ramp up in productivity when everyone shifted to work from home.

          But I think this shift is productivity is coming at a cost of a loss of productivity in other levels, and like Alexandria pointed out, that loss of productivity might more than offset any gains at the engineering level.

        2. TechWorker*

          I lead a team of engineers and don’t think we’ve seen the same spike in productivity, quite the opposite. It might depend how how collaborative the work is & how senior your team is, but it’s definitely harder for the junior folks to get answers to their quick questions that normally would just be answered by someone overhearing from 2 desks over.

        1. Alexandria*

          Yes I agree that in general engineers could take more responsibility, not in terms of programming, but in other areas

      2. Brett*

        I think the standups are going better because we don’t have open floor plans and not all our engineers sit together (about 1/3rd were remote already). So a lot of time was spent getting everyone in a room, dialing into the meeting, taking notes, etc. It could take 5-10 minutes just to get a 10 minute standup started up, and people would just stay at their desk and skip too often.

        Now, everyone just calls in from where they are, note taking is built into the process, and the meeting is up and running within a minute or two. It seems to be less disruptive for our devs and the meetings flow smoother.

    2. sofar*

      It’s funny because our increased reliance on Slack is actually making me LESS productive. In our very large office space, people had to think about whether it was worth it to come to my desk (or whether it was better to wait until the next twice-weekly check-in meeting to bring something up). Now that most of those check-in meetings aren’t taking place (because so many people have kids at home, making meetings impossible), and coming to my desk isn’t an option, people are Slacking about every little thing. The alerts are making me insane.

      I have tried muting for a few hours to get things done. I have tried only checking Slack every hour. But then the 20+ notifications I come back to are daunting. And, sometimes, people do Slack me about important things that need to happen right away — and it gets lost in the deluge.

      1. Brett*

        I think what you describe is what is happening to our product owners and similar people. They are now more slack and less meetings, when they need to be more meetings and less slack. They end up with too much slack noise across dozens of channels that would be easy to cut through with an appropriate meeting. Meanwhile, the typical engineer is getting 1-2 notifications per hour and can stick to 3-4 channels.

    3. Jostling*

      That’s so interesting! We are not an Agile shop but I have noticed the same from our engineers – to the extent that I feel bad interrupting them with said “drive-by” questions, even virtually. It’s definitely been harder getting answers from some folks without the threat of “don’t make me walk over there,” convening groups to work collaboratively (vs. routine check-ins/standups), and being aware of internal goings on without the visual social cues of seeing people head into a conference room.

    4. dealing with dragons*

      we have a lot of remote workers so our stand ups were already virtual. I think I’m noticing the same thing with engineers (product owner here) in that there aren’t walk ups so there’s more uninterrupted work……but, now that everyone else is on slack people are just messaging IT people (my department) instead of following processes. And right now it’s hard to tell if requests are “if we don’t have this we can’t generate revenue” or “wow this would be so cool to do!!”

      for us, we have 6 teams and 2 scrum masters and three product owners to go around. another train was also heavily furloughed so some of our scrum masters are doing double duty. each PO has 2 teams and scrum masters have 3-4 teams. It’s crazy.

      There’s also growing pains for us because deadlines haven’t shifted, so even though we have 60% of the workforce we had, they’re still expecting the same level of support ticket coverage and project work. I am fighting to give leadership realistic expectations but then they go behind my back to resources directly and have them do secret work I don’t know about. But the deadlines are the same for everything else.

    5. Tau*

      It is super interesting you say that about stand-ups, because I feel like ours are way less productive, take longer than they did before, and by the end I regularly feel like an animal ready to gnaw off a limb to escape from the trap. It’s like everyone has this worry in the back of their mind that people will think they’re slacking off, so instead of the brief “working on X right now” they give this super-detailed play-by-play of everything they did the day before. Of course, my stand-up also consists of nearly twenty people, which is its own can of worms.

      I also feel less productive as an engineer overall, which is partially me not being very suited to WFH (whyyy the executive function problems) but I think there’s also a loss on the engineering side if you can’t talk to product owners etc. Like, I can manage to bang out some code, but I can no longer stop by the PO’s desk to ask “uh, this feature, are you sure you want it like this? because implementing it I am seeing XYZ issues with that.” Agreed, though, that I’ve managed some lengthy super-productive coding sessions which I would probably not have been able to swing in the office without being interrupted. Although not as many as I could have because my company did not reduce meetings but instead turned all of them into video calls, and I’m finding it a lot harder to get back into my coding groove after a video call than a face-to-face meeting.

      1. Brett*

        It definitely sounds like you have the wrong people in standup. You need a small group of just your peer engineers. And 20 is way too many. (I think our biggest standup is 5 people out of a larger team of 50+.)

        That sounds a lot more like my monthly roadmap meetings than any sort of standup. Those do not work well virtually compared to in-person. I bet your POs are going to burn out super fast, because it sounds like they could be too deep into the engineering side.

      2. TechWorker*

        The play-by-play in stand-up kills me, it’s meant to be for things you need other people to care about, not a detailed description of your day. We have way fewer people in ours but also it’s totally acceptable and normal for people to say ‘this doesn’t sound like stand-up, let’s discuss after’ if we’re getting off track. It’s a bit harder to cut people off mid flow if they’re really into their description of what needs doing but the lead can always have a quiet word after…

  37. High School Teacher*

    I live in an apartment and have very noisy upstairs neighbors. They have a small child who throws a lot of tantrums – screeching at the top of their lungs, blood-curdling shrieks, more than just crying. I have to deal with that during the day, and then they also have very loud sex at weird times.

    Normally I just ignore it and use a white noise machine or turn up the TV, but I am teaching high schoolers virtually, and they could hear the child’s tantrum today. I am terrified that they will hear sex sounds eventually. I am starting to get really, really fed up with this. I understand we are all quarantined but these neighbors are really throwing off my whole day. My boyfriend says there isn’t really anything that can be done about it.

    What do you guys think I should do? Also, I’ve tried working in different areas of the apartment, but they are all over their apartment too.

    1. soup*

      It sounds like it’s more or less out of your control. I think the most you can do is write to the neighbors very nicely and explain that you teach high schoolers virtually in XY hours, and you would appreciate if they’re able to limit loud noises during those times. If they’re considerate, they’ll try. If they’re not considerate, you did your best.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      You might experiment with different mic options, if you have them. I’ve been teaching with my earbuds-with-built-in-microphone because I think they pick up less ambient noise than the mic built into my laptop and so hopefully my students are less likely to hear my three-year-old “resting”.

      I also second the note to the neighbors. There may be little they can do about the toddler, so you might want to nod to that in your note, but they can control how much noise the adults make doing adult things.

    3. blepkitty*

      I agree with the others about a note. I’d leave off the child, since I sincerely doubt they have any control over that (and are probably terribly distressed by it themselves), but most people would knock off their loud sex during school hours knowing that a whole class full of high schoolers might hear it. If that doesn’t work, complain to the leasing office.

      A microphone close to your mouth can help cut down on ambient noise being picked up, but beware that if you’re a noisy breather, everyone will hear that instead.

    4. Roscoe*

      Honestly, not much. To me this is a bit different than the question about the musician, because you can’t really control a kids tantrum. Depending on your relationship with them, you can mention how “thin the walls are” and hope they take the hint. But if the problem is really that there isn’t much sound insulation and they arent screaming like monkeys while having sex, it is kind of part of apartment living. Sure, you can tell them certain times that would be ideal for them NOT to have sex, but that is about it.

    5. NotAPirate*

      I wouldn’t tell them you teach and the hours. People retaliate sometimes, and you don’t want them to start deliberately being loud. Also, it’s not like the toddler will agree to tantrum on schedule. If you teach high schoolers, well they’ve had puberty, so at least you don’t have to explain what’s going on. Can you create some plans for quick changes in lessons if the neighbors do start having loud adults, like a video that could be shown or asking them to discuss something (so you can mute yourself). Worst case scenario you could just fake a internet disconnect. Actually, might be good plan to have internet disconnect plans anyway – we’ve had outages here.

      Seconding the advice on trying headphones with mics, I’ve had decent luck with one not picking up the loud construction next door. Headphones have the bonus of making your own background noise less apparent to you as well. If you are waiting on one in the mail, try a normal corded headphone in the mic jack. Some older computers will let that function as a microphone. You could also try using computer video but calling in with your phone for audio, most phones have options for filtering background noises.

      At the end of the day, if the worst case scenario does happen it’s a teaching moment. Here’s how we react when people are obnoxious, with kindness and compassion and embarrassment on their behalf. Their loudness doesn’t reflect poorly on you. A lot of your students may have younger tantrum-y siblings too.

    6. 00ff00Claire*

      The weird sex times – surely those noises are generally coming from the same area of the apartment??? – so maybe prioritize staying away from where those noises originate and just dealing with the screaming child the way you would a really bad thunderstorm or the marching band could only practice in the hallway if you were still at your school building? A child who is often screeching and shrieking at the top of their lungs might be doing so because of a developmental or language delay. Would it help to reframe that noise if you assume that is the situation (even if it isn’t) and that the parents don’t really have any control over it?

      Think through what you can reasonably do, then do it, and then if it continues to come up as an irritation remind yourself that you have done everything you can. To me, the hardest part of the situation would be the fact that the root – the noises – are really out of my control. I’ve found that just thinking through what I can control and then implementing my plan, even if it only has a minimal impact, often relieves some of the stress caused by something that is out of my control. Good luck!

  38. ynotlot*

    Do any healthcare workers, especially hospital nurses, read this blog? I’m wondering because I’ve seen a lot of questions and comments where it’s clear there’s an information disconnect and many people don’t realize what is happening in hospitals right now. My sister is a med/surg nurse caring for COVID patients and they have been forced to work without adequate PPE. When they have refused and asked for proper PPE, the hospital has fired them and then lied to the press about it. It’s one thing to have a PPE shortage, it’s another thing to actively, openly illegally fire your staff for reporting unsafe working conditions. Yes, they all have complaints in to OSHA and yes, every single one of these hospitals will lose these cases (unless there is literally zero justice in the world), but that doesn’t help in the moment.
    It’s crazy to talk about reopening things when we still don’t have enough PPE and tests. Until we have enough tests to test everyone (or at least all healthcare workers) and enough PPE that they CAN do their jobs, nothing is going to change.
    The doctors and other staff are on their side. Doctors have also been fired for speaking up in defense of giving nurses the correct PPE. Most recently, her hospital closed down her entire floor (which has only had COVID patients for several weeks) for asking for N95s for nurses. Moved all the patients onto another, more crowded floor.
    One of her long term patients passed away, alone in quarantine on a day when she was off. She cried for an entire day.
    All my progressive friends are ignoring this for some reason. They are posting about how landlords are robber barons, internet access for homeschooling kids, giving out meals, sewing inadequate fabric PPE, complaining about how bored they are – and don’t care at all that nurses are dying on the frontlines. Not a peep about PPE or nurses. Not even a like on my posts about it.
    I let my employer know early on that my sister was on the frontlines, she and her bf are both nurses, and they literally fear for their lives because healthy doctors and nurses have been dying due to inadequate PPE and high viral load exposures. I lobbied to let our staff work from home, since they can do so. My employer told me not to bother her with this, it is ‘too much’, and I was overstepping. We are mostly all still going into the office. And NO ONE, not one single person, has bothered to ask about my sister and if she’s okay, even though they all know her situation.
    I don’t why it seems like no one cares. It really, really, really hurts.

    1. Book Lover*

      This is very location dependent. It is entirely possible it seems like people don’t care because they don’t realize it is happening in some areas. In my part of the country there are not enough cases to cause strain on resources and while we are being careful with PPE we do not have a shortage. Here the focus has been more on the economic impact and health anxiety, rather than on immediate issues like hospitals overflowing or physicians and nurses working without PPE.

      I think there was a reporter who was interested in hearing stories about businesses that aren’t handling things ethically – maybe contact her? The info should be in a prior post.

      1. MissGirl*

        Yes, this is very true. Our hospitals are currently emptier than ever and some staff hours have been cut. We actually just sent 100 healthcare staff to New York to help out. We also have a robust tech and manufacturing area that’s converted operations to producing masks and plastic protective gear.

        They’re asking anyone with the mildest of symptoms to come get tested because we have a plethora of tests.

        You have my sympathy because what your family is facing SHOULD NOT happen ever. But I don’t think your friends are obtuse or unsympathetic, I think they are seeing the tangible things that affect them most.

        Right now my area is more worried about the economic impact. I don’t know anyone whose gotten sick but I know several people who have lost their jobs. I realize how lucky we are that we’re mostly healthy.

        Find emotional support where you can but don’t write ofF everyone for not responding in a way you want them to.

      2. Harriet Vane*

        I agree — this would seem to be a localized phenomenon, and the appropriate outlet for sharing might be the local news media (TV station, etc). Unclear whether your sister is interested in speaking to the media herself (and given her workload–both regular and emotional–as well as a fear of potential retribution, it is understandable that she may not feel up to doing so right now), but the media may be interested in pursuing, particularly those who have been fired for speaking out. Wishing peace to you, and to your sister.

    2. Anonymous again*

      Health care worker here. We’re re-using ppe in ways that we would have been disciplined for doing before. We all know to change gloves/masks/gowns at each step of a particular process, but now we have to fight the automatic reaction of throwing things away. It’s bizarre. And conversely, when one coworker decided to wear a mask all shift a few weeks ago she disciplined for it – then a week later we got a company-wide email saying that anybody can wear a mask all day if they want to.

      I work for one of the hospital chains that’s in the news for firing healthcare workers who complained. The big media push about how they’re in the right is also being blasted to us employees. There are emails about how they care about our health and safety and they’re doing everything to protect us. The firings spoke much louder than the emails. I don’t know of anybody complaining publicly now.

    3. Blueberry*

      How your sister and her colleagues are being treated is absolutely atrocious, and I am very, very sorry. FWIW, I am not on Facebook, but my friends and I have shared information on sending the PPE we happened to have at home to our local hospitals.

      This is not a justification, but it may be a reason: your coworkers may be terrified of what answer they hear if they ask about your sister. I’m remembering times when I knew coworkers were worried for people in their lives, and there were times I couldn’t bear to ask how those people were doing for fear of bad news, for fear of making my coworkers think about the bad news they’d have to give. I really hope that, whatever the reason, people include your sister and her coworkers in their thoughts and that they ask you how she is, and I really hope the answer will be as good as possible. May she and everyone get through this unscathed.

    4. Sleepy*

      I’m very sorry about your sister. It’s terrible that she has to work in those conditions, and it’s definitely hurtful to have her efforts be forgotten, and to have your workplace actually making the situation worse by not following social distancing guidelines.

      I was incredibly scared for my father at the beginning of this–he’s a semi-retired physician but in a high-risk group himself so if he were called in to work, it could get really bad. It was definitely hurtful when coworkers checked in on others’ family members but not mine.

      I think a lot of people are retreating into a fantasy bubble in this situation. Everyone I know is playing some type of alternate reality video game–The Sims, Stardew Valley, or Animal Crossing. I get it–it’s a coping mechanism I also use sometimes. Acknowledging that this is actually a life or death situation for people like your sister would puncture that bubble.

    5. Ashley*

      My industry is running at minimum capacity but to open back up we need PPE under everyday conditions. I hate the thought we are going to open back up and take needed PPE from the front lines.

    6. Misty*

      I’m so sorry to hear this. That must be incredibly difficult to worry about your sister’s safety at her job. I will be keeping her and you in my thoughts this week.

    7. EmilyAnn*

      You seem to have a lot going on emotionally and you’re hearing directly from your sister about horrible conditions. It sounds terrible and horrifying. When things happen and you feel like you’re getting inadequate support, in the relationships that matter, you call people and you tell them what you need. If they’re your friends they’ll give it to you. You seem frustrated that your “progressive” friends aren’t aware of these issues and posting about them. Posting is not solving a problem, so if you can think of ways they can help, let them know.

      I am so sorry you’re unable to work from home. That is wrong and irresponsible of your employer.

    8. wtd*

      My best friend is a doctor, so we’ve talked about a lot of this. But I do wonder — what do the nurses expect the hospitals to do? There’s a shortage of PPE. They likely cannot purchase enough to adequately protect the staff. They can’t refuse patients, they can’t magically make more PPE… what’s the right answer?

      Maybe there’s more PPE out there that the hospitals could buy but choose not too — I don’t know, as I don’t work in medicine and my friend’s hospital isn’t to that point yet (although she knows that once they get the surge they will not have adequate supplies). I am deeply upset by the idea of calling medical personnel heroes when they’re real people who deserve adequate PPE, not being dismissed as noble saviors making the ultimate sacrifice who would gladly choose to die on the front lines. But it seems like a problem that’s too late to correct this time. What’s the right response?

      1. Leslie Yep*

        Maybe not firing them for speaking out for a start? Letting them wear inadequate homemade PPE would be another step (yes, some places are letting them do this already, but plenty aren’t and it’s disgusting)

    9. Diahann Carroll*

      I hope your sister and her boyfriend stay healthy, and I’m sorry the people in your life don’t seem to care about their safety. My apartment community is putting together a slide show of letters for our local hospitals thanking them for their service – we know it’s not much since we can’t help with the PPE shortage (our governor has our local breweries and manufacturers sterilizing cloth and surgical masks to deliver to medical facilities across the state now), but we just want them to know that we appreciate them risking their lives, not by choice either, to keep the rest of us safe.

    10. N*

      I do think a lot of people don’t understand. I have relatives in health care in direct patient care positions (including my sister) who are very much affected by this, but those who don’t don’t necessarily hear about it. It varies so much from hospital to hospital and a lot of people have been gagged in talking to the media. Even my husband who has a lot of close friends who are doctors doesn’t really know what is happening aside from what I share with him. I have also been working at the hospital (I usually work in a clinic, but we have been thrown into a hospital “labor pool”) and have done some work supporting supply distribution…I think it’s hard to know about this stuff unless you’re seeing it directly. The PPE issue is dire. I hope your sister is doing as okay as she can.

    11. Willow*

      My local hospital has suspended nurses for refusing to work on COVID patients without N95 masks (which the hospital has).

    12. ..Kat..*

      I am sorry about your sister and her boyfriend. I am also a bedside nurse. I am lucky that I am in a union. We are protected from being fired for the reasons you mention. It is still stressful, we don’t have enough PPE, but at least we don’t have our very jobs under threat.

      My heart breaks for the patients who are alone except for the bedside nurses and other staff. I work in a children’s unit, so patients are allowed one adult visitor per day. But, this puts a lot of stress on the one visitor who is at the bedside. And the visitors cannot get together in the common areas (like waiting rooms and cafeterias ) like they did preCOVID19 – they used to provide a lot of support for each other.

      As an aside, I hope that the people who opted out of paying union dues will reconsider after seeing how our non-union brethren are being treated.

    13. Leslie Yep*

      Your comments are spot on. My company (before I was laid off) wasn’t doing anything meaningful to slow the spread until they were forced to by a stay at home order. My boss couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to attend standup meetings with 30ppl shoved into a small room, etc.

      I have several family members who are nurses/doctors and it’s disturbing what they’re being forced to make do with, and they’re not even in the hardest hit cities. My nurse family member has been told she can’t wear homemade PPE, but they won’t give her even a surgical mask. If she works with an immunocompromised patient, they get ONE set of PPE for all health workers assigned to that patient to share. This means that sometimes she’s putting on masks and gowns worn by respiratory therapists who have been on covid floors! The hospital admins are clearly only concerned about patient deaths and not worker deaths with this policy.

      The family member who works in the ER at least gets one n95 for the whole shift, but that’s their only protection and they’re regularly intubating (re: droplets flying everywhere) covid patients. Some of the nurses got fed up and purchased ponchos (that they end up reusing).

      I do have friends who are talking about this, but when I suggest they call their government reps and senators, somehow the subject always gets changed awfully quickly. The government and hospital administrators everywhere have a lot of health worker deaths to answer for and I’m terrified that my family members are going to end up a part of that count.

    14. Anonymous This Time*

      I work in a large health system. Usually I’m in the office but earlier in the pandemic, I moved to work that did have an exposure risk for a short period (I volunteered) and we were using the same PPE for the whole shift, which was not good. My system is rationing PPE, so that only some workers get N95 masks. We’re so short on PPE that every day, they collect it, decontaminate it and then re-distribute it. We now require all employees on campus to wear a surgical mask at work (makes sense in a healthcare system) and will not allow employees to substitute homemade cloth masks because there isn’t enough information about how effective then are (also makes sense, plus they’re non-standard so they’ll vary mask t mask. My division (I don’t know if it’s company-wide) is allowing people to work from home but they’re making it difficult. We are expected to keep up pre-pandemic productivity, there are a lot of requirements to document what we’ve done and some people have been required to provide a doctor’s note to prove they should work from home. Every day that I wear a mask at work, I feel a pang of guilt that I’m taking PPE from someone at my company who interacts with patients and can’t work from home. I’ve compromised by working from home when I can, and coming in when I’m required, but it still bothers me a lot.
      As for people around you not seeming to care, I also see this. I think it has to do with people being scared, not really understanding what is going on and fitting their experiences into their general political outlook. I have a lot of progressive friends who are spending a ton of time posting stuff about people being harmed economically by the pandemic, malevolent landlords, and profiteering. When I see something about people getting exposed at work, inevitably it’s about Amazon workers, who do have a higher risk, but are still at far lower risk than healthcare workers. (A far left friend has been relentlessly posting about how this is pandemic is entirely the fault of capitalism.) And yes, a lot of stuff about how they’re making masks. I would be lying if I said it doesn’t bother me. I can say that most people realize that healthcare workers with direct patient contact have a greater risk of infection, but they do not realize how much greater that risk is. And for some reason, no matter how many times you explain this to some people, they do not understand.
      If someone wasn’t interested in public health before this pandemic, it’s going to be hard to get them to focus on the that now. I’ve been talking to my progressive friends for years about health disparities and the importance of raising pay for nursing assistants and home health aides, but those weren’t the kind of causes they were intereted in. When Anthony Fauci mentioned racial and ethnic disparities in the serious illness adn deaths related to the coronavirus, they posted some stuff about that for a day and then went back to normal. Healthcare and public health was just not causes they were interested in or comfortable with advocating for. It still does bother me a lot too that even in the middle of a pandemic, my friends are spendign a ton of time on facebook going on about the economic damage without mentioning the danger that healthcare workers are in. I think a part of it is that people are scared and the economic effects are less scary than dying of Covid-19 and they have an easily identifiable villain. (Even if you disagree with them — landlords can’t pay their property taxes and the people they employ if they don’t collect at least a certain portion of the rent.)
      I really hope your sister and her coworkers are okay. There is no excuse for failing to provide employees with PPE and firing employees for advocating for other employees to have sufficient PPE.

  39. Jenn*

    I’ve been remote from home in my position before this started. The hardest adjustment for me is having my husband home 24/7 and working. We have different office spaces set up but we throw each other’s routines off. I miss those moments when I could dash out to pick something up for lunch or grab a coffee-those were times to get out and clear my head a bit.

    I am lucky that I feel closer to my team via video meetings 2 times a day.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Yup, routine is totally thrown off. He’s always AROUND. And he needs some of the stuff that’s in my office, so it’s tough to get true alone time. And he’s always on the sofa (that’s his workspace)! And he drinks all the coffee. I have taken to spending some afternoons with my laptop in the bedroom with the door closed.

    2. Sleepy*

      That was weird for me at first too. It took some time to adjust, but now I appreciate being able to see my husband more than I was before due to his super long commute. However, we’re trying to keep a lid on the together time during work hours–we take different lunch breaks, for example.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We had to set a rule that my husband (who is now WFH 2 days a week and onsite the other three, because that’s their risk reduction solution, I hate his management) isn’t allowed out of his home office during his work hours except for brief trips to grab food or use the restroom or whatnot, because left to his own devices, he sets up in my living room with his work laptop open to Outlook and plays his x-box all day while he keeps an eye on his email, only then he’s “too busy working” to pause his game and get up and do things like let the dog in or out, so I have to do it even though I’m actually working. :P If he’s secluded in his office upstairs, then as far as I know he’s actually working all day (and if not, I have no idea, plausible deniability) and he doesn’t get on my nerves near so much.

  40. Threeve*

    My nonprofit has been 100% on telework for a month. We were unprepared for the transition, and have made very little improvement between Day 1 and Day 30. One of the directors has “stepped up” to coordinate things, but the trust the less-than-technologically-competent executives place in him has definitely been the result of his confidence, not competence.

    So he’s somehow snaked his way into “managing” all his peers, and doing it very badly; he changes his mind about procedures every few days and only announces his new decisions via call with other directors–he won’t share anything with lower-level employees directly, and he won’t put anything in writing.

    1. ynotlot*

      OMG, sounds like the nonprofit I used to work at. Execs ‘hoarding’ information like it’s toilet paper.

  41. Ruby314*

    I like working at home and am usually really good at it. But my mind has been so scattered with anxiety. My biggest issue has been my neighbors being noisy. Not like, “I can hear them talking or loud TV” noisy, but “starting a week-long construction project adding a new sunroom to the back of their house and sawing and nailing all day” kind of noisy. Also, two different people leaving dogs outside for the whole day yesterday and I swear they didn’t stop barking for more than 10 seconds in 6 hours. This is all happening within 25 feet of me sitting at my desk because I live in an urban area with rowhouses that each have a little patch of concrete out back. I think I might grind down my molars clenching my jaw because this is only bound to get worse as the weather gets warmer. OK /rant

    1. Alexandria*

      Omg that sunroom would be so annoying. I get that they are totally able to do that now when they can’t do much else, but I’d also want to say something about at least limiting their hours.

    2. thatoneoverthere*

      Depending on where you live you maybe able to file a noise complaint about the dogs. Or the fact they are outside all day.

    3. ynotlot*

      I live in a studio in a rowhome and it can get loud in the best of times. We have a scream-laugher, a video game shouter, a guitar strummer, and a really really squeaky bed (ok that last one is me and I feel terrible). Recently, I noticed that a trumpeter has joined our midst. Having read the post from a musician on here the other day, I’m sympathetic to the trumpet player because it’s probably their job and they need to practice. Our trumpet player has blessed us by keeping their practice within daylight hours.
      I’m holding it together but if we get a saxophone player or if someone gets a chatty parrot, I will be upset.

      1. just a random teacher*

        Does this mean I shouldn’t use my non-existent “spare time” during quarantine to teach my parrot to play the saxophone? *Cancels Amazon order for parrot-sized saxophone*

  42. Miriam*

    Every week I work less because if I don’t my own and my child’s mental health will suffer greatly. That 80 hours extra (at 2/3 pay because it’s “only” keeping another human alive and educated and protecting mental health, not physical health, FFS…) is not going to last very long. It may last until the end of our current stay at home order, but hahahahaha. Like that’s not going to be extended. Like summer camps aren’t going to be cancelled.

    It’s nice to still have a job, and one that keeps me out of harm’s way. My spouse is still going in, though, so that feels like a ticking time bomb.

    I don’t know whether to invest in office furniture (which I won’t want when this is over because we live in a small space) or to hope I get furloughed. If people really are getting that extra $600 a week on unemployment my unemployment take home would be more than I usually make. And I know it’s even more so for people who work low paying essential jobs, like grocery workers. While the price differential of being able to make more while not working (and running myself ragged) vs. working is annoying to me, it is downright cruel when it comes to cashiers making $10 an hour in harm’s way and also not getting that extra money. This is all so forked up.

  43. DJ*

    Today is officially a month since I was laid off. My spouse is still getting their PhD stipend, I’ll hopefully be getting unemployment benefits soon, and we were already planning on moving in with a relative at the beginning of summer so I’m not worried about finances.

    I am worried about where my career trajectory goes from here, though. I had helped create a position for myself that was (hopefully) going to get funded in the new fiscal year, and now that my nonprofit has moved to furloughing full-timers as well (it was just us part-timers to start) I’m not optimistic that it will go through. I’m applying for other jobs, but I’m not hopeful. And on top of all that, I’m 11 weeks pregnant. So add the normal pressures of job searching while pregnant to all of this. I’m worrying about how this layoff impacts my eligibility for paid family leave (state policy for me), if we even come back before my due date. I probably won’t find a new job in time to qualify, but if I don’t find a new job and go back to my old one will I look like a new hire? All things I’m starting to worry about. I feel like I was finally getting on track and now all bets are off.

    1. Anom-a-long-a-ding-dong*

      If you were laid off, my understanding is that your employment is terminated with that company (vs. furlough, where you might be brought back once they’re able to have you back). I’ve been laid off multiple times in the past, and if I were hired back, I would have been considered a new hire- might have been able to preserve some seniority perks, but ultimately, it would have involved applying for and getting an offer for a completely new job.

    2. Carlottamousses*

      If and once you do get an offer, you could try negotiating some kind of maternity leave (paid/unpaid/combination) at that stage even if you don’t technically qualify for whatever leave policies that company may have in place. My sister-in-law did this when she was hired around 7 months pregnant and was able to take a couple months of unpaid leave (not ideal, but it was something). And congratulations on the pregnancy!

  44. Too Much*

    Productivity is low for me. I run a research project with several scientists. I’m able to do my work and project planning remotely while they work in the lab (we do essential biomedical product development and manufacturing). I’m trying to mostly keep them busy and churn through data. Luckily I have my own office at home, but unfortunately I’ve also been using it as a bedroom. I asked my husband for a separation a few weeks before stay-at-home orders started coming in. I asked to work remotely because his high-risk elderly parents live with us. Bosses are understanding, but rightfully pushing for faster output because we’re in a critical phase of product development. Definitely looking forward to being able to work on-site again. 100% remote work is not for me in the best of times, and I miss the camaraderie of the lab/office and being in the thick of things. Plus my boss only responds to about a quarter of my emails…

  45. Caroline Bowman*

    I’ve realised that though I work from home normally, all the ”other” stuff I have going on in my life, like my pilates class, my runs around the neighbourhood (where we are, being outside, anywhere, unless en route to or from a shop or the doctor is proscribed, specifically exercising off your property – I know, ridiculous), being able to occasionally see other WFH buddies for a quick coffee… are what I really miss.

    Home schooling isn’t wonderful, but it’s okay, again, it’s their fun extra-curricular stuff that they really miss, and their friends.

    1. Filosofickle*

      Not able to exercise off your property? At all?! Wow, that must be hard. Especially for people without a yard.

  46. JezebelleJay*

    I’m really struggling with how to be a good manager to my team right now. I don’t expect them to be available every second (I’m certainly not!), and I don’t expect life to be normal even at all. But our work is up and down, but…I need them to produce more during the “up” time. When we talk on Monday morning about projects for the week, I really can’t get the three drafts of the social media posts I asked you to make on Thursday morning. This week I started offering deadlines “by Tuesday afternoon” so that there is some accountability.

    But what am I supposed to do when someone responds with “sorry these were late I’m having a hard week this week”? I WANT to be supportive. I want to cut people as much slack as I can. Should I start saying to let me know if someone else needs to take the work because you’re not able to get to it right now? How is that fair to the other team members?

    We have jobs, but we’re fundraisers, so we need to work in order to KEEP those jobs. What do I do?

    1. Stuck Librarian*

      Yeah, I’m struggling with this, too, especially since the WFH things I can give people aren’t things they normally would do, so none of us have a sense for what is reasonable to expect. Maybe this is lazy of me, but I’ve accepted that my low performers will probably take advantage of the time at home to work even less and my average-good performers will be reasonable, but not stellar. My work hasn’t changed, so I don’t have extra time to create ways to manage this new work model. Until I get an epiphany for how to increase productivity, I’m settling for receiving weekly reports summarizing what each person accomplished and not thinking too much about whether they could be doing more than they report. Admittedly, I spend more time on AAM than I normally would, so I can’t expect staff to stay focused more than I am.

    2. Just J.*

      Fellow manager here. I here you. But even as a manager I am struggling with my own productivity, so please try to cut as much slack as possible. I think this is a situation where you need to break everything down to “must be done today”, “ok to be done next week”, and “can be done whenever.” And then distribute an even amount of each type to everyone. Be clear about deadlines.

      Also, be as transparent as possible about the cash flow coming in and how salaries may or may not have to be cut, or whether or not layoffs will become a possibility. (I unfortunately think that a lot of people really do not realize where their salaries come from and money out can only be funded by money in.)

    3. BBBBBBB*

      Is there anything that is less time sensitive and can de prioritized? I’m still working, and have a decent workload – but I am forever grateful my manager has communicated to me and my team that she doesn’t expect anywhere near 100% productivity and all we can do is our best. She stressed that we should take more breaks than usual, and just focus on the few time sensitive deliverables versus being chained to our desks 40 hours a week. All projects not immediately time sensitive were put on the back burner and the only expectation is that we will meet those few crucial deliverables and otherwise be available for meetings/calls as needed. I spend a few hours each day working on my projects and calling into meetings, with several breaks inbetween take care of other things/myself, and then just keep an eye on my inbox/work phone in case anything comes up.

  47. Communication Is Key!*

    I need some advice — Communication from my company about coronavirus business changes has been terrible. So I was not surprised this morning when a random HR person from my company called me to ask if I would take a voluntary 10% pay cut for 3 months. No one had informed my boss, or even my grandboss that this was rolling out. I’m inclined to do it because I’m in a fairly stable place financially with little debt.

    I was a little blindsided by the conversation, so I didn’t have a ton of questions. Can anyone think of pitfalls, questions, etc. that I should be asking? If I thought my 10% would save lower paid workers from cuts or layoffs, I’m more than happy to do this. I work in advertising in an agency that is part of one of the giant worldwide holding companies based in UK, but I am in US.

    1. ynotlot*

      It might save you from a layoff. I normally wouldn’t advocate doing this, but 10% is more manageable than some cuts I’ve heard, and if you feel you’re at risk of getting laid off, being low-maintenance and understanding of the pay cut will probably help you a lot.

    2. Amanda*

      If you manage finantially, it’s probably a good idea to take it, since it could help keep you from being laid off.
      You should ask about your benefits, though. Will they be cut back too, will it be proportional? The ones that aren’t purely monetary, will they be affected by the salary reduction?
      You can also try to use this to negotiate some more flexibility, if you don’t have it already and want it. Flex time has been a godsend in these times!

      1. Communication Is Key!*

        I’m less worried about being layoffs but was thinking I could negotiate a 4 day week with reduced salary out of it.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          That’s a good thing to ask for in return. I’d also ask if it’s possible that when things stabilize in your industry and revenues pick back up whether they would be able to not only put you back to your original salary, but also give you a lump sum payout for the money you lost out on while the pay cut was in place. They may not be able to do that, but I don’t think it’s an unfair question.

          And yes, if a 10% cut for three months won’t devastate you financially, definitely save your job and take it.

    3. Applesauced*

      Seconded! My boss just called me and said “because of what happened yesterday, here’s more work” uhhh, what happened yesterday?!

  48. Liane*

    Things at Fast Casual Restaurant are going fairly well. Per our state’s orders* we are drive thru, take-out, & online/phone orders only. Why Company only let us have masks this week (& required them), no idea–but I now work wearing a “cute puppy with tongue out” cloth mask! (Shout out to Daughter who bought a bunch way last year because she loves anime cons where those are common & has loaned most of her stash to me & to her coworkers!)

    My hours have thankfully gone back up this week to what they were in late February/early March, which is a relief. I have applied for unemployment as Reduced Hours and dutifully report weekly–but always get back “You have exceeded the benefits you were entitled” because I was out of work except for my 1 standing freelance job for most of last year. If anyone knows whether CARES Act allows UI benefits in this circumstance, please comment. I am still reporting (1) in case this week’s higher hours don’t continue, (2) in case I could get back benefits, or (3) Heaven forbid the COVID-19 restrictions/consequences last beyond June 30, when I am again eligible by normal rules.

    *Such as they are, I’m in one of the few that isn’t under any sort of stay-at-home orders. (Just recommends you do.) No clue why Governor hasn’t

  49. Former Retail Lifer*

    I’m the property manager of an apartment complex. I still have to go into work every day, so that part of my day is completely normal. However, my time at work is vastly different. This is normally a very people-centered job but my office is locked and no one is allowed in. Resident matters can all be addressed via phone or email and work orders and leases can be sent electronically, but what broke my day up was showing apartments. Prospects have the option of doing a Skype tour or viewing a video, and most have opted for the videos since we don’t have anything other than a model to show (I have a video library of most of the other options). So while my job actually got easier (I don’t even have to get up most of the time now), I can go an entire day without actually speaking to another human being. It’s so weird.

  50. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I’m frustrated, mostly because the usual avenues I have for overcoming that frustration– heavy job-searching, networking, and even things like getting my nails done in the middle of the day– aren’t available right now. Which is everyone’s boat, of course! But I find myself getting really upset at how little leadership my company is showing and how badly things are being communicated, even though the CEO THINKS he’s doing a great job. Like, no one has said anything kind or encouraging beyond “we hope you don’t get sick”, I was the only one who said anything about activities where we could stay connected (I suggested lunch and happy hour, and some activities for the kids, and while I got enthusiasm initially the ball seems to have been dropped), and on top of that, we all had to take pay cuts (I am now being paid less than when I first started with the company several years ago, with no reduction in expected hours and no offer of, say, an extra day of PTO or anything like that). I read things about CEOs who check in with people, who remind their staff that things are going to be unusual, who reassure parents that they understand things are crazy… It’s super disappointing.

    On the plus side, of course, I still have a job and I still have projects coming in. So that’s something.

    My partner is settling in to working from home (I already did full-time) and honestly, that is one of the hardest parts of this for me. I really want my space back! And because he’s not around his colleagues, I get the brunt of some of his work frustrations. I am enjoying the time we get to spend together and our family doggy walks, though.

  51. blepkitty*

    I’m struggling with my company right now. They haven’t been bad, but they dragged their feet about letting us work from home until school closures were announced (96% of my job is performed via computer). Since then, every announcement about new flexibility in rules has had “as long as it doesn’t affect your productivity” tacked on the end. Recently, one higher up was patting the company on the the back for being “on par” with the rest of our industry. It’s all felt patronizing and like they think we’re all just waiting for an excuse to slack off.

    Meanwhile, my anxiety and depression have been off the charts, and working from home doesn’t help. I need to be around my colleagues to get a read on the mood to help me tell my anxiety brain exactly why it can chill out. It certainly doesn’t help that I live alone and was in the middle of the dreadfully slow process of trying to find friends in my new city when this all went down.

  52. JustaTech*

    I’m … doing really well?
    Like, my sleep is fine, I haven’t gotten in a fight with my partner, I’m about as productive at work as I’ve been for the past 6 months (which isn’t as productive as I’ve been in the past, but the work just hasn’t been there to do).

    I’m sure that in another month or so I’ll run out of work I can do from home; there is only so much preparation you can do before you just need to get in the lab and *do the experiment*, but for now I’m tackling stuff I’d been avoiding. And spending a lot of time spelunking through the archives (my superpower). My work has asked us to spend down our vacation time to help the company financially, so I’ve been taking Fridays off and that’s been really nice, even if I’m not going anywhere.

    I’ve discovered the chair/desk combination that worked fine for grad school isn’t great for WFH, and I might end up trying to get a new chair.
    I’ve discovered that as much as I’m a shy, generally introverted person, I still miss seeing folks, so I’m calling in to work happy hour even if it’s on a day I’m technically “off”.

    Other than that, I feel guilty that I’m *not* stressed out, guilty that I’m not working out more, or doing more house/yard work (we bought the house last summer and are still getting the last bits of settling in done), guilty that I’m not making more masks. Guilty I’m not keeping a journal for posterity.

    If there was some way I could ease the burden of everyone who is stressed to the max, I would. Jedi hugs and good vibes!

    1. Amanda*

      “I’m sure that in another month or so I’ll run out of work I can do from home”

      This is actually what’s been stressing me the most. Most of our clients are postponing new contracts, so what should I plan for in a couple of months when the current ones end? I’m pretty sure my job will be safe, since it’s highly specialized and the company will need it going forward. But what will I actually do with my day? Then I feel guilty for stressing about being bored in the future.

      Otherwise, yeah, I’m also doing pretty good! I’ll add to your good vibes and Jedi hugs! =)

    2. Blueberry*

      If you were miserable that wouldn’t subtract from anyone else’s misery. If it helps, this random internet fruit is glad you’re doing well, and cheering you on in making masks at whatever pace is good for you. Each and every mask helps.

    3. Angelinha*

      Glad things are going well! Can you explain how taking vacation time helps your company financially? Is it that they don’t have the liability of having to pay out your accrued time whenever you leave the job in the future? Or are they having you take it unpaid now to reduce payroll in real time?

      1. JustaTech*

        It’s about getting the liability off the books for the end of Q2. They’ve actually asked everyone to take as much time as they can, and are “letting” people go negative. I don’t think anyone but the C-suite is going to do that by choice, but we just got basically a whole new C-suite (and I have to say our temp CEO is doing a good job, given extreme weirdness) that doesn’t have any vacation to spend.

        They’re doing it because even though we’re a medical treatment provider, we’re getting fewer patients these days (COVID will kill you faster than cancer, so sensibly our patients are staying home), so we’re going to take a big hit in the summer/fall.

        Given I’ve maxed out my vacation time, I’m totally fine spending it this way and getting to feel like I’m “helping”.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      I could be your twin, except I’m okay with IMs and phone calls instead of video (our company isn’t doing video anything). I generally prefer working from home over commuting to an office that was mostly empty before all this happened (95% of the colleagues I work with don’t work in the same building, or state, or country in some cases). Almost of my work can be done remotely, at least for a while, so while I think people are being far more flexible with schedules I haven’t felt any pressure to keep up productivity.

      In some ways I feel a little less pressure in various ways, because we *don’t* have other options that we feel like we need to be doing for Family Fun Time, I have more time to exercise and cook, and my schedule feels less rushed most of the time. My kids have adapted pretty well to online school overall and aren’t clamoring to spend time with friends or go somewhere fun. My husband was also looking to go full time remote anyway so this has worked out well for him and we have enough space to work in separate rooms from everyone. Essentially everyone has an office with a door and a window.

      That’s the good. The flip side is that my main stressors aren’t related to the pandemic, although it definitely makes things worse/harder. My long-term career prospects are dim, if there’s a layoff I’m at risk *again*, and although I just applied for a job I think I’m very qualified for, it’s with the federal gov’t so could take a very long time to even know if I get an interview. There are almost no other options for me to go elsewhere even without massive cutbacks. And my mom, who lives on the other coast, was just diagnosed with stage 4 / metastatic cancer after over a month of incorrect diagnoses and started chemo today. Two months ago she was fine and active, last month she had symptoms of dementia and slept 20 hrs/day, and now she’s aware and present and kind of back to normal but can barely walk from one room to the next without my dad’s help. And my dad is still making daily runs to various grocery stores in between pharmacy runs and doctor appointments. It’s been an insane roller coaster and I can’t be there because they don’t really need the help and the risk is too great.

      So I’m compartmentalizing like crazy and for now I’m okay with being okay with the indefinite working from home and homeschooling and a potential layoff because I don’t think I can manage it any other way.

  53. ThatGirl*

    My manager is not completely terrible, but she has micromanaging tendencies, can be passive-aggressive, and HATES to ever be wrong. She also wants credit for everything so she steps in to things before I’ve even had a chance to do the part I’m supposed to do. And she keeps making up new rules or changing existing ones — despite our style guide being a thing! I’ve been in this role for 8 months, by all accounts I’m doing well, but sometimes it almost feels gaslighty like “wait, did I get that rule completely wrong all this time?” — the answer is usually no, she just changed it on me. Thank goodness for occasional text rants to my coworker who shares my frustration and annoyance and has been putting up with it for much longer.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I guess I didn’t quite tie this in to COVID-19, but the point was that it’s getting worse when working from home because she can’t just “pop over” to my desk or shout from across the aisle.

    2. Briefly Anon*

      One of the things I love about google suite is whenever you have one of those “wait, has that always been the rule” moments it’s really easy to check the version history and prove, if only to yourself, and that no, the rules was changed after you did the work to justify the recipient’s latest issue with it. If you’re using Word etc for your style guide, can you suggest implementing a version control system so people making changes have to flag them up, and keep copies of older versions so you can see when changes were introduced? Numbered and dated and filed etc so it’s always obvious which is the current version, of course.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Oh the style guide hasn’t changed — she just decides something needs to be different and we have to try to keep up. Which means either manually writing in changes or looking through months of emails to see what she decided and when.

        1. coffeeandpearls*

          Do you work with me?! You can’t win – especially if you point out that she contradicted herself. Our unofficial office motto is “Don’t do it . . . but do it”. No helpful advice, just know you are not alone in your frustration!

          1. ThatGirl*

            If you work with me, I just texted you this afternoon to vent, lol. Otherwise, sadly, there are probably many managers like this out there.

  54. PromotionalKittenBasket*

    I’m doing okay, but I can tell my baseline anxiety (which had been around a 1.5/2) is now at about a 7. It doesn’t take much for me to either laugh or cry, and last night I pulled my childhood teddy bear out of retirement. I’m living alone with a non-snuggly cat atm, and I really needed something comforting to hug, 30s be damned. The days go quickly but they all feel the same. Nothing means anything and all I want is to go to a bar with a patio, drink an absurd cocktail in the sun next to other people, and hug my friends tight.

    I like my job and I’m so happy to have it right now. But I very much miss human touch.

    1. A Penny for Your Idea!*

      I feel you. (Sorry for the bad pun.) I’m the same way. I live alone and used to have a weekly hair appointment (just a wash and blow-out) which I realized was human touch, plus workouts with a trainer, hugs from friends and family living in the same city, and now there’s none of that. I do have two snuggly cats which have been a blessing. I wonder if adopting a second kitty might help for you. My local SPCA is doing almost everything virtually with respect to adoptions until the actual pick-up. It takes a bit of time for kitties to get used to their housemate (keep the new one in a separate room initially so they can sniff each other through the door) but it’s a great time to adopt. Just an idea…

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      I’m in my 40’s, living with a husband, two kids, and two cats – and I also pulled out my childhood teddy bear last week. I get it.

      1. JustaTech*

        I’ve been putting my childhood teddy (stuff cow, technically) in the windows for the kids in the neighborhood to see (there’s a “bear hunt” thing in our city), but my cow’s also gotten some extra squeezes between moves.

        Frankly, it’s the most wholesome thing in the world.

    3. Katrianah (UK)*

      I’m 36, I’ve had Cuddles bear since I was born, and you will prise her out of my cold dead hands before I let her go. Don’t ever feel ashamed or embarrassed over a comfort object like that, especially when you’re touch deprived.

  55. Mylegsdontwork*

    I am about to get a pay cut of at least 10%, probably more. I won’t qualify for unemployment.

    I cannot afford this. I am disabled and use 30-40% of my income for medical expenses.

    Can anyone recommend any sort of job I could do in my spare time? Do you have any advice for me at all?

    I can’t walk or drive a car. I live in the Denver metro area. Thanks!

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Some online retailers are hiring remote customer service reps – are you able to look for remote jobs that you can do nights and weekends?

      1. Mylegsdontwork*

        I could do weekends but not evenings. I work swing shift at my primary job and do all my medical appointments in the morning so I’m busy from 9am-9pm weekdays. If you know of any places hiring for weekends only let me know!

    2. Miss V*

      I’m sorry to hear this. It’s an awful situation.

      If you’re an hourly employee would it be possible to ask to have your hours cut instead of taking a pay cut? That way you could still file for unemployment for the lost hours but your employer would still be saving on your salary.

      1. Mylegsdontwork*

        I’m not hourly, I’m salaried and get paid once per month. It looks like they will cut my hours by 10-20% (and pay by at least 10%) but I don’t think that’s enough to qualify for unemployment.

    3. Coffeethenwine*

      What sorts of skills do you have that AAM readers could help suss out some suggestions from? (and hugs!)

      1. Mylegsdontwork*

        Thanks! I’ve worked a variety of customer service positions (cashier, server, library assistant, shipping and receiving, tutor) and have worked as a scientist for 10+ years.

  56. Alexandria*

    What is your company doing that is helping / making this situation better?

    My company is in an industry that is still very busy right now. So that helps. But some things they’ve done include:

    – Paying for things you need to WFH, like a keyboard/mouse/other ergonomic things. Even a small desk in some cases like for an employee who works from a small bedroom in a shared apartment and was otherwise working on the floor.

    – Subsidy for Wifi

    – Temporary completely anonymous BetterHelp subscription

    – Let people order food (up to a certain dollar amount) for a all-hands meeting that would otherwise have been catered

    1. Amanda*

      We’re in a tech field and pretty much everyone already had good wifi, so we’re not getting internet subsidy. But my company is giving a stipend to cover part of the increased electricity bill of those working from home.

      We also have a food-related card benefit, that can be used on either restaurants or grocery stores. This isn’t new, but they upped the given value on the notion that groceries are more expensive right now, and many people now need more food for people who’d normally eat at school or work.

    2. hermit crab*

      We got 12 extra days of paid leave for anything pandemic-related, on top of our normal PTO, no questions asked (can be used for family care, going to the store during off hours, volunteering, binge-watching netflix for your own mental health, whatever). I haven’t used any yet because I don’t have any care responsibilities, but I might take the day off next week for my birthday.

      We also got some money for WFH supplies and were encouraged to bring monitors, keyboards, etc. home from the office when we all went remote in mid-March.

      Our leadership has also been holding weekly “town hall” meetings (virtually) where they give updates and answer questions. The organization (a big nonprofit) has 500+ employees so this is more “face time” with senior leaders than we’d have normally.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That sounds awesome, especially the extra PTO. SO SMART, especially if they presented it the way you did. Takes so much of the pressure off.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        My mom’s company gave them an extra five days of PTO – honestly, I feel it should have been 15 days, especially for the people who still have to go back into the office. But I guess something’s better than nothing.

  57. Stuck Librarian*

    I’m responsible for a public library and while most of our users are okay with us being closed, many would like us to provide curbside service or have some provision for those who need to use our computers (internet service is not available in many places that we serve). I, personally, think we could provide pick-up service designed so that there is no human to human interaction. By state regulations, we easily could do this. My staff, however, strongly oppose the idea, feeling that it is unsafe, and I don’t think this is the time to force them to do something to which they object, so we don’t offer this service.

    Obviously, we can’t tell users, “We can’t offer you that because many staff are in the at-risk population or have had loved ones die from COVID,” so we are stuck giving insipid “We can’t safely do that” answers which engenders the response of either “X library does, why can’t you?” or “The library is better for people than an ABC store and they are still open, so why aren’t you?”. To which we can only give another variation on the “It isn’t safe” answer. Has anybody from another public-service organization (church, etc.) found a better response?

    1. Jae*

      I think part of it is making yourself okay with the idea that the patrons aren’t going to be happy, more than anything else. I work in higher education, and there have definitely been some students who object to our switch to online classes, as well as the administration’s decision to shut down almost all campus services. Originally, we were keeping computer facilities open for students without technology at home, but we secured funding to buy loaner items for any student who didn’t have it.

      Still, some objected because they aren’t comfortable working at home, or it is noisy there, or the like. They wanted these facilities to be kept open with social distancing measures in place because all they see is the part of the process they engage with. They don’t realize that keeping it open requires workers to come in, many traveling on public transportation, and to interact with the public, something which scares them and may put them at risk. It means they are more likely to bring something home to someone vulnerable in their family.
      It may mean that they no longer can provide childcare or homeschooling to their own children, if schools are closed. It may mean that if they are able to secure a grocery delivery, no one will be home to get it, and they will now have to go to the store instead. They don’t realize that it requires us to be sanitizing the materials often, because if students come in to use computers, we have to keep wiping everything down with supplies that aren’t always easy to get. They don’t realize that more people on campus, means more security is needed on campus and well as more facilities workers, so we are pulling more people into work. They don’t realize it would be difficult to have enough people to staff our facilities and have them constantly maintain 6 feet of space, while still doing what they are expected to do.

      The thing is, even if you explained all of this to everyone who pushes back, you can’t explain things to people that they don’t want to understand. I think you can always say as a final comment, “There are many factors involved behind the scenes that make this not a possibility for us right now. I’m sorry,” and then just let yourself off the hook. You can’t make them happy with this, or make them understand to accept it. You just have to tell yourself it is unfortunate if they are disappointed, but they are not alone in being disappointed or mourning the way things used to be.

    2. hermit crab*

      My public library tried staying open to provide essential computer services to the community, but shut down all its in-person services after a few days of that because they found it couldn’t be done safely.

      They did, however, keep the public wifi fired up and they’re now encouraging people to sit in the parking lot (ideally inside their cars) and access wifi from there, call/message staff to get set up with online resources, etc. Obviously that doesn’t help everyone, but I think it is going reasonably well. While I’m sure there are patrons whose needs aren’t being met, there was actually a lot of public support when the library shut down its in-person services.

      1. Clisby*

        Same here. It’s also been publicized as a way students who have iffy/no internet at home can get connected.

  58. That'll happen*

    I was on medical leave for a non-covid reason for a month and now I am back to work as of Monday. I’m working from home and I just started a new position at my current workplace, a medical practice with ~500 employees. Patient volume has dropped 50% and they’ve had to make cuts. I’m lucky I just started my new position, which came with a small raise, because everyone who wasn’t furloughed had their pay cut by 20%. I’m now making less than I did when I started here about 3.5 years ago. I feel a tiny bit guilty for looking for a new job when I just started this new position, but I can’t live off of 80% of my income indefinitely. Who knows if it will ever go back up?

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Don’t feel guilty – you have to do whatever it takes to survive, just like your company had to cut your salary by 20% to survive. It’s just business.

      1. That'll happen*

        Thank you for your kind words! I’ve had many friends tell me this, and I have other reasons why I shouldn’t feel guilty (legal but icky labor practices) but it’s still hard to break free of that mindset.

    2. Clisby*

      Forget the guilt. This is a business relationship – period. You do what’s best for you, the business does what’s best for it.

  59. Briefly Anon*

    Anyone else struggling with the shift to using things you always thought of as work tools for socialising? I’ve always been perfectly happy with video calls at work, but hate them socially. Give me a defined start and end time and an agenda, great. Call ‘just to chat’ while I’m in the middle of eating dinner (and keep calling if I don’t pick up)? Nope. I can live with a phone call, but I find a video call much harder to adjust to without more warning. At work I can get a cup of tea and go to the loo beforehand, but socially it’s kinda not the done thing to ask people to schedule their ‘just thinking of you’ moments. I’ve never loved socialising “just to chat” anyway – give me a play to see with people, a dinner to eat, a birthday to celebrate, a defined start and end time and an agenda! – but my family do, so I’ve got to suck it up! I think some of my frustration comes from the fact I am still working and most of my family aren’t, so they’re adjusting to the new reality by trying to be more social online, and I’m all onlined out by the end of the working day. I’m due to go on maternity leave in six weeks, and I know the demands to be available for video calls whenever it occurs to people is going to increase once the baby comes, but I’m hopeful I can actually enforce some scheduling for those on the basis of the baby’s sleep schedule.

    We’re having a surprising amount of trouble recruiting someone to cover my full time, wfh, guaranteed funding to March 21 position for nine months, which I think is partly about where it’s advertised and partly about the money we’re offering against the job title (I argued for a lower title on the maternity cover, since someone coming in fresh is unlikely to be able to cover some of the work I do anyway, but we can’t do that under the terms of the funding), but the team is going to struggle a lot if I leave before we have someone trained up, especially since none of us have any experience with training remotely before!

    If you have experience in data processing / analysing and you’re in England or Wales (not Scotland or NI, sorry!) – especially if you’re a confident user of Google Sheets with an eye for spotting minor errors in large datasets – and you’re interested, comment and I’ll figure out an appropriate way to send you the job spec!

    1. hermit crab*

      100% with you on the “all onlined out by the end of the working day.” I honestly don’t mind video meetings (I normally work from a different location than my team and was already doing a lot of them) but doing them all. day. long. and then having MORE meetings after work for my volunteer gig is too much. I have computer-based volunteer projects that I am falling way behind on because I am just maxed out on screen time at the end of the day.

    2. Filosofickle*

      In my book it’s socially okay to ask for scheduled calls! The baby will give you a good excuse change the rules, although you shouldn’t need to the baby to do so. I don’t mind chatting just for fun, but don’t like being taken by surprise. Not sure why.

      It’s pretty normal in my area to text in advance to agree on a good time, whether it’s basically now (“Hi, are you around?”) or later (“What day is good for you this week?”). If they just call me out of the blue there’s a good chance I won’t pick up, but I’ll respond with a text letting them know when I can talk. Even if it’s just 15 minutes from now, long enough do grab that cup of tea and hit the loo! If you keep asserting this boundary, they should learn.

  60. Loving Remote*

    I’m actually thriving in the remote environment. My company is incredibly supportive, I’m much more productive and focused than I am in the office, and I get a dog on my lap all day. My boss has even noticed how much I can get done with the remote set-up and has indicated I may continue to work some remote days even after which is great for me (cuts out my half hour commute). It maybe helps that I have a dedicated home office that I can walk out of and shut the door at 5pm so I still “leave work”.

    Also for people feeling disconnected, if you haven’t tried Netflix Party yet it is a blast! My group of friends have picked some shows and movies to watch and we have scheduled hangouts where we watch and chat and have a bit too much wine. Keeps us feeling together when we can’t actually hang.

  61. Jae*

    I am struggling, not with working from home, but with working from home under these circumstances. In the past, we were never allowed to work from home and since I have a killer commute, I would appreciate if this flexibility stuck around after, but doing this while this crisis is going on is challenging. People from my job have died; no one I worked with closely, or in most cases even knew, but it is still heartbreaking. Other people I know have been sick or lost loved ones. My own mother is sick, though seemingly with a very mild case. I miss my friends. I miss my family. Some of my important relationships have really shown their issues during this time (lack of checking in/availability/ghosting), which I get given the circumstances, but these issues were all present in smaller or different ways beforehand, so it feels like it is highlighting my loneliness.

    I work in higher education, and with students… there are a lot of asks. I find myself getting upset with someone asking for a letter (that probably won’t do what they expect), or with faculty for fobbing tasks off (though the fobbers always fob things off, it isn’t new). I’m getting upset by things that are normal. Maybe I’m just realizing they were never really acceptable things and I just tolerated them better before.

    This whole situation makes me want a different kind of life, but being stuck at home and with the world so precarious, it is hard to imagine making that happen. I feel very lucky to have my job and not to be in such a bad position objectively, but I’m sad. I saw a TikTok earlier this week of a guy singing a made up song “I’m sad… even though I’m productive… I’m sad… even though I’m getting shit done,” while he videoed himself being productive at various things. And that hit me. Sure, I’m crossing items off my to-do list, and I’m actually doing waaaaaay more work than I should be in many cases (because this situation requires so much extra management. I am not a manager, but there is no one to step in and handle this), but it feels like walking through Jello. Add in the feeling that I’m longing for something else (and the guilt at wanting something more or different when many people don’t even have enough) and I’m just not great.

    I’m supposed to be providing all this support, but who is supporting me?

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I’m sorry you’re feeling so bad right now. Have you considered speaking to a counselor? Many of them are doing phone appointments, and if your company has an EAP, it may be helpful to reach out to them for some leads.

  62. Salty Caramel*

    I’m really frustrated with the colleagues who don’t accept the current normal and are so invested in the status quo we have before everything went nuts. The ones that talk about ‘we have to open up the economy’ and say things like, ‘we have to go back to business as usual,’ instead of dealing with what’s in front of them.

    My opinion is we need to find ways for more people to be able to work and function. I don’t think corporations are doing half of what they can do to help their workers.

    1. A*

      Unfortunately I fear you are mostly correct. But not all! I work for a brand that primarily operates autonomously, but is owned by a major corporate conglomerate. Prior to, and going into, the COVID-19 situation – I honestly didn’t trust them based mostly on my outsider insight of what I believed the operations of corporations to be (first time working for a corp. previously with non-profits/co-ops/family owned businesses. I’ve been pleasantly surprised, and it’s changed my view for the better.

      Our production has been 100% shut down, my brand is unable to generate income. But our parent company floated all hourly factory workers for four weeks before furlough (employer covering all health benefit costs) – which was done to stop the bleed so we CAN all return to a stable company when we reopen. They’ve kept us updated on a twice a week basis, and voluntary furloughs / paycuts across senior management was implemented to avoid additional furloughs.

      They’ve told us that they do not expect anywhere near 100% productivity, and have put all projects not immediately time sensitive on the back burner. We need to meet the deliverables of those few top priority projects, otherwise just be generally available for calls/emails. Early on they implemented a mandatory no-meeting block for the first half of Tues & Thurs each week to ease the strain on parents attempting to homeschool.

      There are more examples, but point being – I felt the same way as you, but after this experience I do believe there are well managed corporations out there that are doing far more than ‘half of what they can do to help their workers’.

  63. Spearmint*

    I know this is a very privileged problem to have (as many people have lost jobs or are underpaid essential workers), but as someone who is relatively new to the professional workforce I’m worried about how the current situation will slow my career growth.

    I started in my first permanent position after college earlier this year in a niche field where I was going to have a lot of opportunities to develop skills, gain experience, and take on increasing responsibilities over the coming year. It was very exciting and exactly what I wanted out of my first “real” job. Then the pandemic started. For various reasons, the most interesting projects, experiences, and training that I was to be doing have been put on hold. They simply cannot be done while maintaining social distancing. Realistically, these projects won’t start back up until next year (at the earliest).

    I still have work to do, and my job is safe (thankfully), but the work I do have has been mindlessly boring and isn’t really helping me grow into my role and take on more responsibilities (and, not mention, won’t be the kind of thing I can highlight on my resume in 2-4 years when I’m looking for my next position).

    It has really sapped my motivation, and I’ve been far less productive (though it doesn’t matter much because I don’t have 40 hours of work to do in a week anyway at this point).

    1. NW Mossy*

      Elbow bump of solidarity on the whole “but my career!” thing – it’s really wearing on me.

      I might not be so fixated on it if it weren’t for the fact that I narrowly lost out on a promotion right before all this happened. Upper management was very clear that they want me to stay and that they want me in a director role soon, but the various avenues that lead there have dried up in the wake of the pandemic. This combined with a slump in demand for my team’s work has me at loose ends, and my boss is too new in his role to know what to tell me to focus on other than the generic make-work basics (documentation, cross-training, etc.).

      I’ve been focusing this week on trying to think up projects to work on with enough meat on the bone to yield some meaningful accomplishments. I used to do this in partnership with my former boss and she was a fantastic mentor, but now I have to figure out how to do it on my own because the structural support from above isn’t there anymore.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      Unfortunately it might especially from a monetary standpoint…
      I graduated during the 2008 recession but was really lucky and found a job fairly quickly. Took a while for my industry to pick up after things started turning around so no merits or promotions for a couple of years. I had a good boss who realized that I was being paid less with 2 years experience than the incoming new grads with no experience and fought for a raise and promo. I ended up having to do an internal job change to get that and even then, because transfer promotions were at a capped percentage rate based on current salary, I was still underpaid for that position. Took 3 years for me to get there and the guy hired almost 2 years after me was there in 15 months.
      I had to leave in order to get to market rate and since asking for current salary wasn’t illegal yet, they required a W2 so while I got a significant raise compared to what I was making it still put me on the lower end of market rate. Luckily they realized it and brought me up to where I wanted to be within 6 months and another significant adjustment a little over a year later. I just started somewhere new in January and got market value but starting next week we have to take a 10% cut and 401k match was eliminated for at least 3-4 months. Merits are also off the table for our next fiscal year so that will impact my earning potential going forward as well.

      1. A*

        Oh gosh this gave me flash backs, I had much the same journey having graduated in 2010. Le sigh.

    3. EddieSherbert*

      It’s not fair, but you are probably right that this situation might mean it takes longer to get from Point A to Point B career-wise. However, everyone else is in the same boat too – so at least you won’t be *behind* anyone? I know that’s not at all a great silver-lining ;) but I’ve been reminding myself of that quite a bit recently.

      I was in the middle of job hunt/interviews to take a big step in my career when all this started and the couple jobs I was excited about and doing well in interviews were pulled for now :/ I’m fortunate that my current job is still going strong and I can work from home, but I was making this change because I started feeling *last year* that I’ve outgrown my current role and there’s no room for growth in this position. So I’m grateful to be employed, but very bummed to lose that opportunity to move on.

    4. JobHunter*

      I had just moved cross-country to take my current position. I got three weeks of work in before administration told us to ramp down our work and stay home. My work was all hands-on at this stage; it was too early to record any data from it. I was told that we would be notified when the situation changes. Fortunately, I am still getting my salary at this time.

      Unfortunately, I didn’t have much opportunity to explore this place or finish furnishing my apartment before the stay-at-home order. I did find two stores before all this happened, and I moved with a few weeks of supplies expecting to need some time for shopping around. I am using a few large moving boxes as my desk and table at the moment :D

      I am also worried about the delay in professional development and career advancement. I have been tinkering on old projects, taking some courses for professional development, and spending some time on LinkedIn making network connections.

  64. Brioche*

    I’m a third year law student. I’m terrified about finding a job; no one is hiring in my city right now. I have good grades and a high class ranking. But I don’t think that’s going to help at all. There’s a lot of uncertainty when (or if) the bar exam will be held this year. To say I’m stressed is an understatement.

  65. The Green Lawintern*

    I miss having a copy machine. I have a printer at home that technically has a scanner in it, but I have to scan in each page individually. I want to scream.

    1. blepkitty*

      Oh man. I feel your pain. Luckily I don’t need to scan things, but I don’t even have a printer and don’t want to shell out for one. My job is heavy on reading, and while I try not to print too much, sometimes I really need to print stuff out to give my eyes a screen break or cut down on distractions. It’s been hard.

    2. juliebulie*

      I miss having a color printer. I work with a lot of documents and I often use different-color highlighting for various purposes; the highlighting is done automatically with macros. Then I print it out and all the highlights are gray. Ugh

    3. Amanda*

      Dude, I don’t eve have a printer at home! Screaming doesn’t cover it, specially when I get A0 blueprint-style documents!

      On the bright side, I can say I’m 100% green right now! lol

    4. JustaTech*

      The only good thing about most of my company not having personal printer/scanners is that we have finally (finally!) gotten with the 21st century and have gone to e-sig for out internal documents.
      When you work in a regulated industry there are a *lot* of documents that need to be signed, most of which will never been looked at by anyone, but just in case they all need a signature.

      I hope we all get the e-sig abilities soon, because it really grinds my gears to have to print out our (internal) order form, fill it out in pen (no PDF form for you!), sign it, scan it, email it to the folks who need it (along with a typed list in case the scan is bad), and then keep the form for 10 years.

  66. Policy Wonk*

    I miss my coworkers a lot. While I usually hate meetings, I find I miss them, too. Conference calls just aren’t the same. And not being able to observe body language, facial cues and the like, I can’t gauge opposition, enthusiasm, etc. The ops tempo for work has slowed considerably, though there is still plenty to do. But I find I liked it when I had more work than hours in the day.

    That said, I don’t miss the commute – the extra hour of sleep in the morning is fantastic! And I can get a lot of work done from home. Right now I go in to the office once every other week. When we go back, I may try to flip that and telework once every other week.

    1. Filosofickle*

      This is one of the reasons I defend video calls so much. It’s not as good as in person for reading non-verbal cues, but it’s a hell of a lot better than voice or text only. Reading people is one of my biggest professional advantages and it severely limits me when I can’t use it!

  67. I hate this*

    I may have to quit my job. I’m trying to keep up a 40 hour workload while caring for a toddler and being pregnant. I’m failing both my job and my child and all I feel is guilt and stress. My husband earns almost 2x what I do so it makes sense as a family to prioritize his job. I hate that this will mean a step back in my career but I’m hoping I can be a rockstar at my next job when the world goes back to normal.

    Compassion and understanding from everyone goes a long way right now. I’m not getting a ton of that on the work end and it’s definitely exacerbating the stress and is the main reason I’ll probably quit.

    I wish you all the best in this hellscape.

    1. Ali G*

      Can you take the EFMLA and see if you can ride it out? Or do you need that for maternity leave if you stayed?

      1. I hate this*

        I would need that for maternity leave, since the company doesn’t give any sort of parental leave. This job is good but not amazing and I think I’ve reached the point where bending over backward for them isn’t worth what I get in return.

    2. Blueberry*

      I wish I could attach some casseroles to this comment or something else tangible. I hope that whatever your family decides you all make it through this as well as possible.

      1. I hate this*

        Thank you, just saying that makes me feel better. Imagine if we could message casseroles to people! How great would that be?

    3. dealing with dragons*

      I think a lot of people are going to have gaps for this time and it’s going to be expected that it happened.

      A middle ground step you might take is estimate how much work you can get done in a given time period and give it to your boss to prioritize. Clearly communicate you can get X, Y,