Jessica Peters is a reporter at the Chilliwack Progress.

COLUMN: Navigating working from home during these pandemic times

This is a chance to work in the best conditions possible. In your sweat pants, on your couch.

There’s a video that still swirls around the internet that perfectly illustrates the challenges of working from home.

And you’re thinking of it already, aren’t you?

A man in a business suit in an uninteresting office setting is doing his best to look professional whilst providing his opinion to a television news show host. That is, until his toddler enters the room and steals the limelight, followed by a woman attempting to hide from the camera and wrangle the kid.

This isn’t unlike my experiences working from home as a reporter while my troops were very young.

While video calls weren’t part of my work-from-home repertoire, non-stop phone calls were. And I’m here to offer a few tips to the masses, who may be trying to find a balance between letting a child wail in the background about a sippy cup, and hiring a full-time nanny who is comfortable with television cameos.

Hold, Please

The first step is to find the mute or hold button on your phone, and perfect its use. This is the ultimate tool in defeating a cranky toddler or anxious teenager. Practise interrupting people and politely saying “can you hold, please?” so you can turn on the parent voice and deal with whatever travesty has befallen your offspring.

Stay mobile

Invest in a headset. Children get more anxious the more calm you look. To head them off at the pass, conduct all your business while doing household chores. You can connect with anyone, really, while washing dishes and listening to them.

Tip: Before trying this on clients, patients or customers, practise on an in-law. They are your toughest audience and best critics.

Dress for work

This is horrible advice. Don’t do this. How often will you be sent home to manage your company’s affairs? This is a chance to work in the best conditions possible. In your sweat pants, on your couch. If you’re feeling extra fancy and the budget allow — after all, you’ve managed to keep your job during a public health crisis — then splurge on some nicer day pajamas. Think Hugh Hefner. He did okay in his pjs, after all.

Tip: If your work day involves video conferencing, Skype interviews or your want to impress the mail carrier you’re finally going to meet, dress for success from at least the waist up.

READ MORE: EI expansion answers B.C.’s request for Ottawa coronavirus assistance

Keep regular hours

As tempting as it will be to finally attempt to make a souffle on your lunch break, trust me, you’ll get burned. Either you’ll fall asleep from the extra effort to create a masterpiece during what is actually a work day, or you’ll forget entirely and the fire alarm will go off in the middle of a call.

Put the whisk down. Instead, grab a coffee on your breaks. Take a walk around the block at lunch. Just remember to go back to the ‘office’ at some point.

Train your children and pets

When my sons were small, I made my calls when one was at elementary school, one was soundly sleeping on a bed in my office, and another was mostly docile. I trained that middle child to walk in gently and place his hand on my shoulder for my attention. I rewarded him by saying “can you hold, please” into my headset. We would then talk about a great many childhood mysteries, and I’d send him happily on his way before returning to my call.

The long-term benefit is he is now also the kind of person who places a hand on you while he speaks to you. And now that I think of it, maybe sharing too many germs along the way.

And as for dogs who may bark at inopportune times, repeat after me: “Oh, that darn neighbour and his dog!”

You will bond over the shared contempt of this dog and bad dog owners, and then you’ll spend a half hour consoling him or her later.

And that reminds me. Stock your workplace with treats as a failsafe back-up, for you, your children and your dogs.

Best of luck out there. Stay safe and healthy.

READ MORE: Chilliwack’s Cottonwood Mall businesses shut their doors as COVID-19 worsens


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Column

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Abbotsford Agrifair shares more about Drive-Thru Safari concept

Agrifair officials lay out plans for annual event, which runs from July 31 to Aug. 2

Professional basketball in Canada begins return to action with COVID-19 testing

Abbotsford’s Fraser Valley Bandits, six other CEBL teams arrive in Ontario for Summer Series

Chilliwack RCMP seeing surge in telephone-based tax scam

Victims are phoned by someone claiming to represent the Canada Revenue Agency, demanding money

19 times on 19th birthday: Aldergrove teen goes from crutches to conquering Abby Grind

Kaden Van Buren started at midnight on Saturday. By 3 p.m. he had completed the trek 19 times.

Chilliwack Chiefs alum Jordan Kawaguchi named captain of North Dakota Fighting Hawks

The high scoring forward will lead UND into the 2020-21 NCAA Div-1 hockey season

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Surrey’s first Ethics Commissioner brings ‘objectivity’ to the job

Vancouver lawyer Reece Harding is Surrey’s first Ethics Commissioner, also a first for B.C.

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Most Read