Working from home the new norm

12:46 pm on 22 March 2020

By Glen Scanlon*

Opinion -Glen Scanlon, who's working from home right now, among other things compiling our Covid-19 newsletter, reflects on the new normal.

Man working from home and taking care of baby

Photo: 123rf

My CEO (this will make sense shortly) stumbled across this wonderful Facebook thread for people working from home due to Covid-19.

The premise is simple - you need to rename the members of your family as if you were working with them: children become co-workers; your partner is the CEO and any pets are secretaries (don't ask me, I didn't make the rules up, but you can play with it however you like to match your situation).

So, duly inspired. Here's a sample from our home work office:

Our co-worker has been missing a lot of work due to a non-Covid-19 related illness. I think she may be starting to take the mickey a bit but the CEO has her back. In fact, she makes her porridge, gets her a rug and tells her to take it easy.

The co-worker nestles herself into a corner in the shared workspace and coughs at regular intervals. Every now and again I ask what she's up to and she says "maths", which is just as well because our finances need some work. The CEO tells me to go easy on her. She's probably right but it's always good to question the boss.

I have followed the CEO around for nearly 20 years now and, to be fair, she's a good leader. Sensibly, she has been pushing an economy drive because we are a contract-based enterprise at the moment.

This has proved a bit of concern to our co-worker, who after doing the maths asked if we were broke. You tell us, we said.

The economy drive has meant cutting back on the work social drinks and golf days. The CEO realises though that a workplace marches on its stomach, so there have been lots of homemade treats.

We have had a couple of intense strategy sessions about diversifying, finding permanent work elsewhere, for example. This may destroy the co-operative spirit of the co-working space.

For some reason, the co-worker thinks it is perfectly acceptable to take a bath at work and then walk around naked saying "bottom, bottom, bottom". I need to have a word to HR about our "open" workplace rules being too lenient.

My co-worker is good with feedback. In the 10 years she has been with the firm, it has got progressively stronger.

She tells me that I'm becoming a germaphobe because I insisted she follow health and safety rules and wash her hands. As a diversionary tactic, she is pushing the CEO hard to add a secretary to our office, which is mad since she knows the maths.

The CEO is against such moves, saying lots of our neighbours have secretaries - we could borrow them for walks. The co-worker is also demanding we watch a Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix as a team-building exercise. I suggest we're living it already.

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