Recently, I crept into my daughter’s bedroom to kiss her good morning and told her that she could sleep in because it was the beginning of her spring break. Well, it was kind of spring break since her school is in coronavirus lockdown.
It was so cute. Lola gave me a hug and said: “Mommy, do you get to start spring break, too?”
No honey, I told her. Mommy is just working from home.
Role: Assistant for Dynamic Signal’s executive team and manager of Dispatch, our internal communication and engagement platform
Home: San Bruno, Calif.
Family: Husband Claudio, a San Francisco fire department captain; son Giovanni (14); daughter Lola (11); dog Bentley
Honestly, it’s really strange. I’ve been at Dynamic Signal more than two-and-a-half-years, and I had worked from home exactly four times before this. An executive assistant has to be in the office. When you’re supporting a team of leaders, it helps to be within eyesight, so you can answer quick questions and jump up on tasks.
So, I was one of the last people in the office when our company mandated working from home. That was before California issued the state order. But working remotely is only part of the adjustment.
Now I’m also in charge of our two kids as they do distance learning. I thought I had it all planned out. In the beginning, I set all of us at the dining room table. I had brought all of my work tools home (laptop, monitor, mouse, and so on). And I set up Giovanni, who’s in eighth grade, at one side of the table with his MacBook, and Lola, who’s in fifth grade, at another side with her Chromebook.
What a disaster!
It ended in two days. I couldn’t focus. They were bickering at each other. Or somebody would read something out loud and distract the other two. So, I set up boundaries. I relocated both of my kids to the desks inside their bedrooms. They close their doors when it’s distance-learning time, or mom is working. They’ve also learned that when they come over to me to ask quietly, “Hey, are you on a call?”
I didn’t last long at the dining room table, either. I didn’t realize how uncomfortable those chairs are. I created my own workspace in my living room, where I have mirrored everything to look just like my office workspace.
Adding to the complexity is my husband’s job. Claudio is a San Francisco firefighter. As a first responder, it’s not like he can work from home. He’s out in public every day.
When he leaves the house, we don’t know if it’s going to be for a 24- or 48-hour shift, or if he’ll be gone for 14 days because his whole firehouse has been quarantined. When he comes home, we have a routine. Our garage is basically a decontamination center. All of his clothes go straight into the washer and he heads to the shower. Only after all of that can we even hug him.
So, keeping safe just adds to the stress of the moment.
I’m not sure what I expected working from home. But between my job, worrying about my husband, helping my kids with their homework, I find that I’m working more now than I did before the coronavirus. I know it’s like that for so many people. It’s definitely a juggling act. If you didn’t have great time-management skills previously, you’re probably learning them now.
Or you’re going to be seriously losing your mind.
Five Questions with Danielle
What social distancing technology are you relying on?
I’m using Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams. But most of all, it’s our own internal Dynamic Signal platform. We already had relied on Dispatch. But the use has gone through the roof since this started. We’re creating even more posts designed to start conversations that span across the whole organization to get people talking on the platform.
What’s something that you’ve learned about working from home?
It’s very lonely. When my husband leaves for the firehouse, it’s just my kids and me. I’m a very social person. At the office, people like to come over and chat with me. I miss that human connection. So, I’m always reaching out to people and asking, ‘Hey, how are you?”
What’s something that keeps you sane?
I feel like we had a crystal ball because we bought a Peloton last Christmas right before all of this. I get up a 6 a.m. every day and jump on the Peloton for 30 minutes. That’s a way to de-stress while everyone is still sleeping. It’s my “me time.”
What’s your new work attire?
It hasn’t changed very much. I do the same hair and makeup like I’m going to work. I wear the same clothes from the waist up. But now I wear leggings every day with my slippers. I have a better workflow when I do that because it’s my way of knowing that it’s work time now.
What makes your new workspace unique?
My daughter said my desk needs to be brighter. So, she made me an arts-and-crafts flower that says, “I love you, Mommy.” It’s something special on my desk. It makes me feel like my family is all in this together. And our dog, Bentley, has a little bed right next to me, too.