‘Leaving work at work’ during COVID-19

IN my field of social work, we are told to leave work at work and vice versa with your home/house. The same can be said for most professions. We ought to leave our client/customer issues behind the doors of our offices; we also have to keep our personal life out of work-related affairs. At least, that’s what was expected of us, before COVID-19.

On a personal note, I was relieved and more expressive when my work and home spaces were separate. I was most of the time in control of my environment. I found comfort in my home when work was difficult and I also found comfort in my work and school when my home life was difficult.

Currently, due to the COVID-19 epidemic in Guyana, most of us are asked to work from home. I also attend the University of Guyana. There, we have been utilising online classes in the comfort of our own homes. For the remainder of the semester, we are asked to not return to classroom settings and lecturers have to find creative ways and means to turn practical assignments into virtual ones. All sounds well, for a week or month. For the remainder of the semester? Not that comforting, if you’d ask me.

Hear me out. That comfort I found by separating those two aspects of my life is no longer there. I literally have to bring work to the place I once deemed sacred; to the place where I leave the outside world to tend to itself until I gained enough energy to head out back again—to my home. What must I- or we- do if we have to allow such a clash? Keeping in mind, every home is not stable; every home is not physically spacious enough and every home does not have the necessary equipment/tools to work effectively.

To find some sense of that ‘comforts of your own home’ feeling, I try to improvise and adapt. I try to find a space in my house that is calm and work-friendly. For me, that space is in my hammock outside in my yard. It does not have to be an office set-up. Find a place where you’re comfortable. From your verandah to your dining table, to your stairways. Label it as your workspace and go there when you need to get work and school tasks done. It is a simple mind trick I did to myself and it makes me feel better. I try not to compromise the rest of my house, just so that when I have to do regular ‘home’ activities, it still feels like home.

Organising your time for work life and home life is also crucial. Routine checks in the morning always help me to plan ahead of my day to get tasks finished. These times are challenging. Some of us are overwhelmed, frustrated and even hopeless. You have to find a constant motivation and will to keep moving forward with work. Like, in the middle of an epidemic, we still have to work and attend school.

Absurd, right? Yes. Your feelings and mine are completely valid. As of now, we have to create spaces that allow our mind to be free. Work is home and home is work, but it does not have to be in your mind.

On that note, I also hope that employers, lecturers, teachers and supervisors who are reading this take heed of the many challenges working from home has. I hope this article serves as a cause for you to compromise and show leniency. I am also hopeful that those persons who work from home remember to slow down, take a step back and take it easy.

Do not overwork yourself beyond your minds and bodies’ will. Most importantly, I hope you all be sure to, ‘leave work at work’ and leave ‘home at home’, despite these circumstances.

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