Gail Katz Dukas
Gail Katz Dukas

**Author’s note: We are all well aware of the horrible toll COVID-19 is taking around the world. In no way do I mean to make light of the fact that people are suffering and dying from the illness, and that quarantine and closings are causing real strain and financial hardship for people. The piece below was written from the “if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry” school of thought. Wishing everyone good health!!

So, your CEO or your mayor or your governor told you to work from home as we all strive to #flattenthecurve. Welcome to my world!

I think working from home is the best thing ever. But you people are really curbing my enthusiasm. Like explorers stumbling on an isolated tribe, you’re all in my space.

All of a sudden everyone is working remotely. Thanks to amazing technology such as Zoom and Google Hangouts, we can all “meet” face-to-face from our own homes. Whereas I used to get to phone in to staff meetings, now I have to be seen! Suddenly I live in fear of my colleagues wanting to “pop up” on my computer screen at any time.

That means I have to actually change out of my exercise clothes, make sure my hair isn’t scary, AND put on make-up!

And even worse, I have to share my space with the rest of the family. I’ve got three kids attending virtual classes AND a husband working from home. (Also, they are all hungry all the time, but that’s another story!)

My husband and I work together, and one key to our success has been that he works in the office and I work from home. So much for that… now thanks to our renewed quality time it won’t be long before one of us tells the other, “you’re not the boss of me!” like a petulant tween.

I’ve heard that there are people who are having trouble adapting to a full-time work-from-home environment. The “pundits” are sharing handy tips on how to survive this “hardship.” Get dressed as if you were going to the office, they say. Stick to your routine. Set working hours, and create a “work space.” Take a lunch break.

(Insert eye roll here.)

I don’t know why so many of you are struggling.

I’ve been happily ensconced in my “home office” (also known as my kitchen table or my living room couch) for years.

I enjoy the flexibility of being able to do a couple loads of laundry throughout the day, make myself a cup of coffee in my favorite mug whenever I want it, or hop on my exercise bike during “lunch.” As an early riser, I’ve been known to put in a few hours of work before everyone else wakes up, which gives me more freedom in my schedule. When I’m on the phone, I can pace (for steps!) without disturbing anyone.  I don’t waste time commuting, and no one is looking over my shoulder or distracting me (or breathing on me!), which enables me to be more productive at home than on the rare occasions that I do go to the office.

Also, I don’t have to share the bathroom with anyone!

The coronavirus crisis may forever impact the workforce. Employers might discover that a virtual office is just as effective as a real one, with significantly less overhead costs. Even when the world situation returns to normal, more and more people might join the work-from-home revolution.

Gosh, I really hope not.

Please, as soon as it is safe, go back to your office. Let’s restore the status quo and give me back my peace and private bathroom. (But you should definitely keep washing your hands!)

***

Gail Katz Dukas is the COO of Dukas Linden Public Relations, a top 10 financial PR agency (according to O’Dwyer’s) based in New York City. She lives in Teaneck, NJ, with her husband… and three kids since she and her family are all quarantined. In normal times, her two older sons live at college!