COVID-19 has changed everything about American home life. My wife, my children and I are together – more or less – 24-hours a day. We cook meals and eat together 3-times a day, and we – even occasionally – clean the house together. We take walks, most often with our dogs, the true beneficiaries of our changed lifestyle. We have three dogs today, when two-weeks ago we had two. While we chose to bring a puppy into our family, other families will likely see their new arrivals in 8 1/2- or 9-months.
I feel at times like we are living in an earlier decade, or in a parallel universe, in which life moves more slowly and home life and family are more important. And, for the first time in years, I know what my teenagers are up to.
We know that the crisis has forced an unprecedented number of people out of work, and put immense stress on our health-care workers. At least 10 million jobs were lost in the past two weeks alone, maybe twice as many. My landlord’s secretary was let-go, but she may be the lucky one, as commercial real estate has fallen a notch or two in its importance to the working world. Kathy will find a new gig long before her ex-boss concludes that he will never re-rent the three empty offices in our building, until and unless he cuts the rents by half.
Working from home has its ups and its downs, but many of us have figured-out that we can make it work. We can successfully use Zoom and Teams to run global meetings from our kitchen tables. My wife just completed a meeting on Teams, with 28,000 participants in 40 countries, from the comfort of our living room (with a fire in the fireplace). At other times, we get to see the basements, walls and windows, and meet the pets and children, of our clients and coworkers. Productivity waxes and wanes at home, but there is no water cooler or break-room, so when I am working, I am really working. Commuting time, cut to zero, gets added to work time.
It’s unlikely that we will all work from home forever. When COVID clears, and the chains and bars are removed from the office building doors, many of us will move back to our offices, but not all of us. We have learned that working from home is working and a whole lot more.