Don’t Ask Me to Turn On My Camera for Work Calls
Working from home isn’t an invite into my personal space
Even the most buttoned-up corporate companies have a Slack channel where things can get a bit ratchet. You know these 2020 chat rooms when you see them: They’re often dubbed something like #random or #funny, and are home to foolery like Cardi B tweets and discussions about the weirdos on Tiger King. Back in February, folks would hop into my org’s #chit-chat channel and trade memes about the coronavirus — not quite anticipating that it’d grow into a pandemic that has upended every aspect of life in countries around the world.
Of course one of the first major American cities hit hard by Covid-19 was Seattle, where I work and live, so things are pretty much shut down out here. Fortunately, my team is able to work remotely — though that’s been an adjustment, to say the least.
The perks of working from home are cliché at this point: There’s zero commute time, casual Friday has been replaced by wearing sweats seven days a week if you want, and you can take a quick 20 minutes to exercise or de-stress with video games during workday lulls.
But there are some weird aspects, too. For one, my anxieties about expectations in this remote circumstance. If I haven’t responded to an email or Slack in an “appropriate” amount of time, is that being tracked? Will there be a passive-aggressive email sent to the whole team about responsiveness? I’ve been on top of things, but it just feels like the stakes are higher, and I can imagine myself starting to overcompensate.
It took a few days to find a rhythm and flow for being productive, and figure out how to keep work and leisure separate within one space. I’ve had to keep my laptop out of the bedroom altogether — things got to the point where I’d wake up, roll over, shoot off some morning check-in emails, and then go right back to sleep for another 30 minutes. And without a change of location after the close of the business day, it became easy to keep working well into the evening.