Coffee Break [17/2/20]

It can be a struggle to get through the second half of the day.

26 million American have had the flu so far this season, with cases of a second strain increasing. With fears of a coronavirus outbreak growing the CDC has stated that they “would call for “social distancing” strategies that would include online schooling, teleworking, and canceling mass gatherings, in an effort to prevent people from spreading the virus.” 

If necessary, could you work from home? What sort of challenges or benefits would that involve? If you already work from home do you have any tips for the rest of us? I doubt we’ll get to that point, but I like to plan ahead.



  1. I’m actually starting a new job in a few weeks that will likely be more amenable to working from home than my current one. Years ago, I used to work almost entirely from home, so I learned how to treat my day like I wasn’t working from home. I started on time and I ended on time. I took an hour for lunch. I was available for colleagues to contact by phone or email. I absolutely, positively did NOT have a TV in my work area, and I avoided the kitchen at all costs so that I wouldn’t just eat all fucking day. Aside from taking the dog out for a couple of walks during the day, it felt like I was “at work”. The effort to avoid working in my underwear while playing video games on the other monitor was considerable, but eventually I developed some pretty good habits.

    • I’ve had jobs where I split my time between the office and home. For me having boundaries was important, if I was working I didn’t answer the home phone, or personal email. If I was at work I was at work regardless of which office I was at.

  2. I work full-time from home. It works really well for me, but I know others for whom it would not go well.

    As far as tips:
    – Set up an office that has a door, or is at least a separated room. Might sound weird, but separating yourself from the rest of the place kind of reinforces that you are “at work”.
    – Get dressed. Please. Don’t wear pajamas all day. Getting dressed is not only a signal to your brain that you are up and working, but it makes it easier to leave the house to do the inevitable errands or coffee run without needing time to “get ready”.
    – Get a good chair, and make sure that your whole work station is ergonomically correct. Spend some money to get this right, because the kitchen table can be shit to work at for 8, 9, 10 hours. I don’t have a standing desk, but if you have one at work and enjoy it, then buy one for home (see if work will let you expense it).
    – Keep the same schedule you would have for working in the office. That way people can reliably reach you. If that’s not possible, find a way to post your “office hours” to the folks who would need to know them.
    – Get comfortable with telecommunication apps like Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, etc. Whatever your company and clients use, make sure that you really know how to use them from home. Set up a test meeting. Know how to mute your mic, share your screen, invite users who are having trouble getting in, etc. Nothing kills a supposed-to-be-quick call like someone who can’t get their set-up to work.
    – Even if you don’t have a work phone, make sure you have mobile access to all communication apps (especially IM and e-mail). That way you can run that quick errand and still be able to answer a panicked e-mail or IM reasonably fast. If you normally respond within an hour, or if someone on deadline needs an answer ASAP, this will save you lots of trouble.

  3. I do some working from home but I also have the kind of insomnia that ranges from raging to merely god-awful so nobody in their right mind would want to make use of my habits…

    although if you ever find yourself thinking “if only there were more hours in the day” I can assure you that whilst your clients may love the overnight turnaround afforded by an extra workday between the end of one & the beginning of the next…the returns diminish swiftly as your brain decides to take revenge by adopting something akin to the principle of rolling brownouts…

      • …it’s insidious, too…I swear there has to be some ancient evolutionary panic mode that sets in when you’re sufficiently sleep-deprived that used to be your last-ditch shot at burning the metabolic candle at both ends in a desperate bid to find/kill/eat something before you turned up your toes

        …it’s the only possible explanation for why the time I am most likely to be greeted by a friend with some variant of “my, you’re looking well” is when I haven’t slept for more than a handful of hours in as many days & I feel like death-warmed-up would be an improvement?

  4. Since job #1 is as a paraprofessional in an Early Childhood Special Ed program, where I work *directly* (sometimes LITERALLY hand-over-hand😉🤣) with 3, 4, & 5-year-olds who have various disabilities; and job #2 is stocking groceries in a grocery store (putting out new items, facing the shelves, checking dates on shelves items, etc.), no, I can’t do EITHER of my jobs at home…

    I mean, I *could* read to Lily (my labrador), and hand-over-hand some sensory play & art projects here at home–i DO have children’s books, art supplies, and I know how to Google & Pintrest…. and technically *could* organize THE SHIT out of our pantry if I was stuck here on quarantine…

    But AIN’T NO ONE gonna pay me for either of those options.

    So I’ma just keep on with what I *allllllways* do at this time of year, and just keep on washing the hell out of my hands, lotioning them up after washing with some O’Keefe’s Working Hands (that shis DOES work to keep your skin from cracking!😉), avoid touching my face when *at all* possible, make sure I hand-over-hand my kiddos washing *their* hands in the sink (WITH SOAP!), and glove up *then* handwash & lotion up after anything that involves bodily fluids beyond an occasional nose-wipe (which also gets an automatic hand-washing afterward!😉)

    Snot/boogers are literally unavoidable in my line of work.

    These little dudes & dudettes ALWAYS have at least one finger up a nose/in their mouths *somewhere* in the classroom, at every given minute of any given hour of the day…

    So avoiding being *directly* in the line of a sneeze/cough to the face, washing your hands, and getting enough rest to get over one’s own sniffles–so that those *don’t* turn into a full-blown cold are about as good as one can shoot for.

    The grocery store is a bit easier–there folks are MUCH less likely to pick their noses, and eat the boogies while maintaining direct eye contact with you (YES, in case y’all wanted to know, the pick-and-roll *is* still a move many pre-K’ers HAVE in fact perfected independently!🥴😂🤣).
    Also, many folks will avoid human contact at the grocery store when they’re sick.

    And the packaging isn’t very likely to cough/sneeze on me, as I remove it from the cases & put it on the shelves😉

  5. I was listening to NPR this afternoon and they were talking about teaching by video conferencing. They’re doing a lot of that in China right now because of the outbreak. But, it doesn’t work for special needs children.

    • We ended up meeting for a LOT of my college classes by video conference (Zoom) my last semester in school, because the weather was SO bad, so often that spring.

      Our professors are based on-campus, an hour south of our metro/satellite campus, and we just kept getting hit with snowstorms on Monday & Tuesday nights.

      Since a couple of us in the cohort lived an hour+ north of the metro campus, and someone else lived an hour South (but in a different direction than the main campus), our professors would just announce a few hours before class, that we’d be meeting online that night.

      It was pretty great, because it meant we could all stay home & be safe, but also that we didn’t fall too far behind on what we needed to learn for the semester. (Of course, it was also only possible, because our entire cohort was less than 20 students!)

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