The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced many of us to change our routines. Perhaps the biggest of these changes is the fact that now, many of us are working from home for the first time. In the software industry, remote work — or telework, as it’s sometimes called — is fairly common. But in magazine publishing, where editors and art directors work closely together to create a lively issue, being separated can create problems.
Among those are the use of digital collaboration tools, access to the publishing software, bandwidth, and more. For me, personally, the biggest issue was actually just being home. I don’t have a home office set up, as I’ve never needed one, so finding space to work that does not preclude the rest of the family from doing what they do each day was the first challenge.
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My wife was at first only lukewarm to the idea of me working from home, because, well, I’d just be around all day, being all needy and stuff. And it only got colder from there, as no matter where I was in the house, I apparently was in the way of her completing some task. By day’s end, she was on HER computer, researching other options.
“Why can’t you rent one of those daily workspaces they have in office buildings,” she asked.
“Because our state is basically locked down?” I say. “We’re not supposed to go anywhere.”
“Not SUPPOSED to go is not an order NOT to go,” she said. She’s got some lawyer in her.
I’ve started a journal of my experience, which I’ll share with you now.
Day 1 of “working from home” due to COVID-19.
I have a dentist appointment at 9:30 AM, so I wake up around 7:30, answer emails until 7:33, and do the Sunday New York Times crossword until 9:10. In between, I hear from my art director that she can’t get onto Slack. I throw on clothes (Oh no, was the computer camera ON??) — no shower, no shave — and go.
I return home about 10:30. Time to check in with the team and see what’s happening. I get the art director back onto Slack, then make myself breakfast. Now it’s 11:30. I start editing a couple of stories and send them along for page layout. I put in a solid two hours of work, then at 1:30, crawl out of the boiler room/new workspace to go upstairs to make coffee.
My daughter Hallie is awake (did I mention she’s home from college because it was shut down due to COVID-19?) I ask her if she’s upset that her Delaware Blue Hens’ basketball season ended the way it did, and was quickly reminded that she has no interest in that. It did, though, lead into a half-hour of listening to college fight songs (one a marching band guy…). Side note: My alma mater, the University of Maryland, has TWO! Technically, one’s a fight song, presumably played DURING games, and the other is a ‘Victory’ song, presumably to be played AFTER victories. Yet at games, the Mighty Sound of Maryland marching band plays ‘Maryland Victory’ WAY more times than the fight song, despite rarely winning. Makes no sense. But in this coronavirus world, little makes sense.
Back to work for another hour. Now it’s lunchtime. I go back upstairs to have a sandwich, and Hallie — clearly bored on her revised spring break at home — talks Carrie and I into watching an episode of “Schitt’s Creek” — a VERY funny Netflix show. One episode turns into five, throughout which I keep exclaiming, “I can’t … I’m WORKING!”
After lunch, I’m back at it, transcribing recorded interviews into text. Play. Pause. “What did he say?” Rewind. Play, Pause. In two hours, I’ve transcribed 11 minutes of recording. I’d rather be back at the dentist! Six minutes to go until the end of the recording, I drop everything to start writing this.
Five o’clock. End of Day 1.
They’d better find a cure, and fast! The other options are me gaining what my daughter Lindsey called “the COVID 15,” which is like the “Freshman 15” of weight gain, but worse, because it’s associated with coronavirus. At least we don’t have peanut butter-stuffed pretzel nuggets… YET! And, of course, the final option … me being the victim of a bludgeoning death for having committed the crime of … always being home!