The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live our lives. We are now physically separated from people in order to avoid infection and though this is the right thing to do it is a bit of a challenge. Cabin fever is real and staying home is… hard. There is also a new challenge that requires a bit of adjusting. I’m talking about working from home.

The Family that works together…

I know that we are blessed to be able to work from home as our jobs have not been impacted in the ways that others have during this pandemic. Though it’s great that we can do this, it has a few challenges.

My wife and I are working from home, literally rubbing elbows. We both share our work desk where it has now become a 2 person desk. She is setup on the family Mac mini while I work on a Dell laptop hooked up to a 24 inch display.

The kids are also in full virtual education mode. My daughter is on her MacBook Air getting her school work done while my son is borrowing my iPad Pro to do his. Both are seating around the dinner table doing their work.

The Challenge

Working on email, Slack, Google Chat, etc. can be done with no issues whatsoever. When it comes time to take calls or video meetings, we have to agree on a plan to avoid disturbing one another.

For example, last week I was on a video call with some work colleagues when my wife, who is sitting next to me, gets on a video call of her own. As you can imagine, we are both talking to our teams and though I had my headset on, my wife was taking her meeting through the speakers. It was disturbing and I felt like one of us had to leave the room.

After that, we both agreed to never take a call at the same time while sitting next to each other. Going forward, we will agree on who will leave the room and take their video call in the bedroom.

The second challenge of working so close together is when I try to stir conversation or laughs for the family. I would randomly get up and say something stupid to try to get the kids to laugh. Of course they do, but then I realized that my wife was in the middle of a call and her coworkers would hear the stupid stuff I said that was intended for the family only. You sometimes forget that we are “in the office” open to others while working at home.

Learning to work together

Working so close together shouldn’t be this difficult. At the office, I sit next to half of dozen colleagues and we get our work done with no issues. I supposed the challenge lies in transforming our home into a place that mirrors the office. Though this would be a good approach, it saddens me that our apartment has to be transformed into a “work place”.

Our home is the place to be ourselves, and now we have to give it a different personality and identity. We have to learn when we are in “office mode” vs “home mode” so that we can recognize whether we are wearing our work personality or our home personality.

Like all things, this will take some time and we are learning to live and work in a new way due to the pandemic. Though I have worked from home on Fridays for over a year, doing it daily has brought its own annoyances and changes in lifestyle.

I never thought I would say this, but here it goes:

I miss the office.