You Are Not ‘Working From Home’
You’re at home, during a crisis, trying to work
But let’s make one thing clear: At this moment, you are not just “working from home.” You are “at your home, during a crisis, trying to work.”
That’s how the bosses at the Canadian federal agency Parks Canada put it recently, expanding a tweet that went viral in March with a set of principles for working remotely under Covid-19. Those six guidelines were shared by an employee at an adjacent department of the government in a now-viral tweet.
The principles highlighted something millions of people around the world are feeling: Everything is hard right now. It’s hard for the legion of working parents balancing jobs with childcare, homeschooling, and the ongoing demands of running a household. It’s hard for single people, alone for weeks or months on end. It’s particularly hard for women, who disproportionately shoulder the burden at home and at work.
The Canadian government’s guidelines are an acknowledgment of several fundamental and self-explanatory truths about life right now: None of us is working at 100% or being our best self. Each of us is dealing with a different set of challenges, and our ability to “cope” varies widely. Now is not the time to insist upon business as usual.
But while many companies and managers are trying to tend to their workers’ well-being, basic respect for humans over productivity — laid out so forcefully in the Canadian memo — is far from standard, as many of the replies to the tweet indicated.
And at a time when layoffs and furloughs are everywhere we look, many who are lucky enough to have jobs are feeling anxious about keeping them, and doing all they can to prove their worth, sometimes overworking and burning out in the process.