COVID-19: Work from home dream turns into nightmare for some Jamaicans
iStock photo of father working from home.
The coronavirus pandemic has made what was once a dream, for many, a reality: working from home. However, it turns out that it’s no easy task for some professionals who are now struggling to dedicate their attention to just excel spreadsheets.
"I thought it was a dream...this whole working from home thing, but it is really a nightmare. I can't concentrate, my whole rhythm is off, there are too many distractions. I lock myself in the bedroom to get work done, but sometimes the wi-fi doesn't pick up as good, and my four year-old son is like a 12 hour a day fire alarm going off, jumping from couch to couch,” a 33 year-old database administrator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Loop News.
"And the wife, spending all this time with her is driving me crazy… If my marriage survives this quarantine period, I will be surprised. You know, I actually read that divorces have gone up in China since this COVID-19 thing," he continued.
You know the old joke: if you are under quarantine, and live in an apartment with a child, one person should work in the bedroom, while the other quietly begins divorce proceedings.
Working from home without a schedule can be panic-inducing. How can anyone get any work done when there are internet videos to watch of silly cats or delicious donuts to eat while scrolling through the bazillions of shows on Netflix?
Janice Thomas, a 38 year-old Jamaican-born elementary school teacher who now works in South Carolina, said the panic-inducing feeling triggered by the quarantine made her choose to go to work rather than adhere to her school district's recommendation that she work from home after all schools closed last week.
"After the first two days, I couldn't stand it. I just kept eating and watching Netflix. I did my online meetings with the staff but I couldn't get any work done, so on the third day, I drove to the office, and locked myself in my classroom, there was no one else on my block, and I got a lot of stuff done. I taught myself how to use the Zoom technology, got spreadsheets done, I was so proud of myself. But next week, I will have to stay home as the state will be tightening the restrictions as of Monday," she said.
"I don't know how I am going to manage with my husband saying things like ‘Did you see what Trump said now?’ every 20 minutes and the kids at home. Sometimes, I feel like I want to strangle them but I have to figure it out."
Publicist Ralston Barrett said that that although he normally works from home, he can't escape the uneasy post-apocalyptic feeling that the world, as he knows it, is no more.
"While I'm accustomed to working from home, this feels much different because I am being forced to do it. So whereas I used to look at working from home as something special, it doesn't seem that way anymore,” the 44 year-old said.
“Also bear in mind that my daughter is home because schools are closed so I have to endure a lot of interruptions; the bars are closed so I can't go in the evenings to play dominoes and chat with my friends and have a drink, or even go to the local coffee shop and work from there,” he continued.
"However, I understand that we have to abide by these new rules for the safety of the entire country of Jamaica...but right now, working from home sucks, especially since everybody is now working from home, there is nothing special about it," he said.
For those in the gig economy, working from home sounds like something else: unemployment.
"This quarantine work from home thing is BS," one gentlemen's club operator said. "How can I work from home? Do you have any idea how much money I am losing at my clubs? I am going to have to lay off staff next week. How can go go dancers work from home? Lots of people in the gig economy are going to be shattered financially. Babysitters, helpers, computer repair-men, selectors, how can they work from home?"
HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO SOOTHE THE WORK FROM HOME BLUES
DRESS UP FOR WORK
Staying in your pajamas all day? Pretend you have a meeting every single day. Get dressed, do your hair and make-up and make yourself a cup of coffee.
CREATE A SPACE
Even if you don’t have a dedicated room or studio in your house, you can still create an inviting workspace. Make sure this space is quiet and free from distraction. It’s also important to make your space a real workspace — it should be the place that you go to work on your business, not a place where you chat on the phone with your bestie. Creating a distinct place will help you distinguish between work time and play time.
When you work from home, it is easy to fall into the trap of working all the time. Try scheduling breaks into your daily routine, and make exercise of the upmost importance. Whether you start your day with Pilates, go to spinning at lunch, or end your day with a walk around the block, exercise helps jump start your creativity and gives your brain a break.
CREATE A SCHEDULE
Give yourself structure. Make a timetable for the kids as they do their own home-schooling. That will give you time to schedule your own meetings, make lists of deadlines and meeting times.