It’s a rare office that allows employees to work on the floor or perched on a windowsill, but the home office? That’s a whole other ball game. Laptops on the bed, the sofa or stretched out belly-down on the carpet is hard to resist. Office attire policies no longer apply in this new virtual world. I should buy stock in Under Armour since I literally live in my favorite shorts now. On the rare occasion that I am giving a presentation, I just throw a scarf over my favorite T-shirt. I’ve taken online shopping to the next level as well, who knew flip flops came in so many awesome colors? When was the last time I wore real shoes? My feet cannot remember.
Some of us have experienced perplexing WFH habits like haphazard shower schedules, sporadic makeup application and wearing the same clothes for days. All of these behaviors are especially baffling to a spouse who is not home bound. They arise on schedule, perform all the ordinary functions, then mask up, glove up, drive to work in traffic and weather. They have the additional stressor of worrying they may be exposed to the virus and bring it home. I am sure my husband wonders how is it that I’ve been home all day yet can’t be bothered to comb my hair. Isn’t that what a ponytail is for? (But I made dinner!)
As a society, we’ve become increasingly more dependent on social media, both for entertainment and motivation. Departure from our normal routines, and being stuck at home all day, while coping with added stress of COVID-19 have caused sleep disruption, missing meals, or the opposite: snacking all day, and not exercising. Do you remember the simple act of taking a lunch break? For many of us now working exclusively from home, our lives have lost significant structure, blurring lines between personal and work time. Who says happy hour can’t happen at any time of the day? (Just kidding)
Humans are not the only ones affected by the pandemic. I know my dogs are very happy that every day is now an office day. They spend most of the day underneath my desk snoring, occasionally popping into the frame during a meeting. As we look ahead to a gradual return to some aspect of regular life, we cannot forget that our choices may have psychological effects on our pets. Will they end up with separation anxiety? How will they transition out of a routine where their owner is home 24/7 and into one where they may be alone for long stretches of the day?
When we finally step out of this Twilight Zone of a world with coronavirus, there will likely be a lengthy transition period that may include fear and anxiety. I cannot be entirely sure I will be able to leave any of my bizarre quarantine habits in the past, but i know it will take some serious adjustments over time. The key to any plan is to make one. Then communicate, so everyone knows what their new role will be. I am pretty sure my plan will involve tossing off the flip flops and putting on real pants and shoes.