It’s Okay If You Don’t Want to Work From Home Right Now.

From school closings to factory closings to mass layoffs and fears of getting sick, every hour gives us something new to worry about. In the midst of this frenzy, many of us also deal with employers who expect us to move smoothly from office work to work from home and continue to work as if everything is fine.

We can not. “Working from home” is not the same as “working from home during a pandemic ”. What is happening now is unprecedented in modern American history, and it is absolutely, one hundred percent normal not to be fully productive. It’s completely normal to be stressed.

If it’s hard to feel grateful for something right now, remember that those of us who can work from home are in luck. Many people have lost their jobs. Many more people have to go to work – whether they work in a hospital, grocery store, or one of many other important jobs – where they risk getting sick.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It has been a century since the United States experienced a pandemic of this magnitude. Never in our lives has so much of the world around us been so closed for so long, and we have definitely never lived with so many restrictions on where we can go, what we can do, and who we can hug. There has never been a time when so many of us were so concerned about the health and safety of our loved ones.

We used to face national emergencies. We are concerned about the dangers posed by factors beyond our control. But we have never faced such an omnipresent existential threat. It is absolutely pathological to expect people to continue working as if nothing were happening.

We’ve heard over the past few weeks that Isaac Newton has developed brilliant theories while quarantined from the plague. Shakespeare may have turned to sonnets when theaters closed due to the death toll.

Good for Newton and Shakespeare. We are not them. First, many of us have to deal with cooking, cleaning and caring for children, as well as paid jobs that give us a roof over our heads. We do not have the luxury of time to come up with a theory of universal gravitation or write a literary masterpiece.

As much as I want to use these strange circumstances to focus on my passionate projects, I can’t. For starters, I just don’t have time. (See above.) If you don’t, it all means that you are living in the real world like everyone else.

Before berating yourself for not being more productive, let’s take a look at all the reasons this isn’t your regular work from home.

Unless you are in a position where you have no special family responsibilities, no family members you need to worry about, and no additional work pressure from the crater of the economy – and you also have the superhuman ability to ignore the incessant barrage of bad deeds. news means that now you have a lot of additional worries and responsibilities.

This is not normal. This is an atypical work from home. Most of us bustle about trying to make ends meet, trying to keep everyone around us from a deadly invisible threat.

Right now, that means juggling childcare and homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, and containing our anxiety, all the while obsessing over what steps we need to take to stay healthy, and oh yeah, I have an appointment in thirty minutes, but mine the son just fell, broke his lip and was bleeding, and oh my god, I just remembered that I have a report tomorrow and I need to find time to do it, right? It’s a lot.

Under these already heightened daily worries others seethe, which cause deep and crying horror: you can get sick and die, leaving behind people who depend on you; You may be the unwitting person who infected your grandmother or cousin recovering from chemotherapy. Every exit from the house is fraught with dangers. Every little interaction has an ominous meaning.

This does not mean “working from home and being more productive because we don’t have to commute to work.” This is a modern plague. If someone tries to tell you otherwise, tell them in no uncertain terms how wrong they are. And while you are doing this, remind yourself too.

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