Click. Work in the Time of Coronavirus

It starts and ends with a click. The day, that is.

Instead of taking a shower, hopping in the car, cueing an audiobook while joining the city’s collective commute from which I often detoured for coffee and a bagel, I grab a pair of shorts and don a T-shirt before plodding down the hallway to the spare bedroom where I slide the desk lamp power switch on.

Click.

Next, I boot my laptop and set a monitor to play King of Queens or Seinfeld reruns. Then I get to work.

Likely like you, I sit for hours. I click on email and instant messages. I click on cloud applications. I create, edit and forward documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

Click, click—click.

Few cars travel outside the window. Delivery trucks, though, they’re plentiful. For every Amazon, FedEx, Instacart and UPS driver gliding by, three walkers pass. The pedestrians are often accompanied by the same dog seen earlier touring the neighborhood with a different member from presumably the same household.

The coronavirus pandemic, of course, doesn’t leave much freedom for activities.

Occasionally a video conference occurs. These online meetings, while imperfect, break the tedium. Before receiving hair trimmers from one of those Amazon delivery trucks, one preparatory question was which ball cap to wear. Eight weeks in, that’s no longer necessary. Necessity is the mother of new talents, if not invention.

Overnight Zoom and Teams meetings are the new normal. Most everyone typically joins from their respective homes and often hastily constructed home offices. And those of you intentionally orchestrating the background, carefully positioning statuettes and high-brow novels, we see you.

Online conferences are, at first, a change of pace. They maybe even hint of a fresh experience, if not fun, in these strange disrupted and disconnected times.

But then the reality of running a business this way, minus such conveniences as postage meters and in-person collaboration, sets in.

New bills arrive requiring new methods of payment. Traveling employees battle challenging obstacles and require creative support. Emergency legislation demands reporting payroll using new Covid-19 government-reimbursed leave codes while a second confusing Congressional act changes the way payroll is processed take effect before payroll firms, whose own employees must all work from home under their respective states’ own quarantine requirements, haven’t yet had an opportunity to program the complex updates within their systems.

The list goes on.

Everyone has advice, from the business press to vendors to government agencies.

Tips for combatting pervasive volatility. Leverage a data-driven culture to overcome sudden disruption. Prevent collaboration from preventing agility.

Occasionally the stream is broken by one of those new somber ads that typically feature soft, melodramatic piano music.

Enough.

You reach your full of distraction and return attention to work. More email. More projects. More work in the cloud.

Click, click, click.

Operational struggles and unusual new stresses are complemented by worries none of us may be able to buy meat, chicken or pork. Having previously spent seven years as a vegetarian, that wouldn’t normally prove worrisome. Except our curbside orders commonly omit tofu, produce and bread, too. We know better than to even try tracking down flour. 

Nothing else to be done, we return to work. From home.

We send messages and texts. We coordinate new processes and fulfill myriad responsibilities. Taxes get filed, then paid, formerly a given task now a particular challenge when one can’t print a check and walk it across an office for a signature.

Things get done. But it’s different.

Then, the day completes. 

Me, I log off, shut down my computer. The afternoon, or what’s often now the evening, ends, again, with the desk lamp.

Click.

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