Hard to believe that it was only two weeks ago that I took my little trip, but I’m really glad I had that chance to recharge my batteries, however briefly. Came back to the same crazy amount of work, plus more because of coronavirus. You see, in addition to my other responsibilities, I am also chair of our health and safety committee. And so, the updates to our 350 staff depended on me researching and composing messages on an ongoing basis, while still juggling regular work. Just to be clear, I am trained as an accountant, not a public health officer. While others had input, I really felt like everything was on my shoulders.
This week, with worsening statistics and more stringent guidelines coming from our federal and provincial health authorities, our executive team (including myself) took on the responsibility jointly and the messages began to be drafted by the communications person and sent out from the CEO’s office. So, strangely, despite my work load not decreasing at this point, my stress level has gone way down. What a relief not to be carrying the burden alone.
I know that many of you have been staying at home recently, but our organization only began transitioning to work-at-home mode over this last week, as our health authorities were not suggesting that previously, as there had been no indication of community spread. Now, despite the fact that much of our organization’s work is face-to-face service and that that method of contact been discontinued, we are trying to keep everyone working as long as possible, and our funders have been very supportive of that.
My team is responsible for payroll, finances, facilities, and IT, and so within our organization, we are an essential service. People still need to be paid, facilities still need to be managed (particularly where our funders have not yet allowed full closures), and there is a ton of work in IT as we try to come up with solutions to allow a workforce that was not working remotely to do so in a hurry. In addition, it is our fiscal year-end and we are in funding negotiations and having to sign funding contracts for the new fiscal year. So, yeah, my work has not slowed down.
Here are some thoughts and questions I have had over the past week:
- Introvert’s dream: Is it wrong to be enjoying working with less than 30 people in an office that usually houses 90, despite the cause?
- No physio: This was the week I was going to finally try to go to physio to do something about the constant pain in my right leg and hip. Who knows when that will happen now. Constant pain isn’t good for either mental or physical resiliency.
- No exercise: I tell myself that I was going to start going to the local pool to swim lengths, but I can’t because it’s now closed. Probably I wasn’t going to go, but now I have a good (bad) excuse.
- Is that you coughing? Having a pre-existing condition that makes me cough makes me very self-conscious. I have irritable larynx syndrome, which means that my larynx is hypersensitive to triggers, including scents, food touching my throat, vinegar in my food, cold air, etc. I am actually coughing more, now, because of all the hand-sanitiser and disinfectant in the air, not to mention the flowers and trees that are now beginning to bloom in Vancouver. Sometimes my coughing causes a laryngospasm, in which my vocal chords slam shut and I can only cough out and can’t get a breath in. It’s happened three times in the last three days. It’s scary, and it makes me wonder how my body would handle the new coronavirus.
- Can a night person become a morning person? Normally, I don’t get to work until 10 a.m. or so, depending on what I have going on. With a 9 a.m. COVID-19 response team meeting every morning, maybe my internal clock will shift? (I hear that morning people are more productive.)
- With no restaurants open, will I finally lose some weight and save some money? That remains to be seen, but so far we’ve had some really good meals at home and are making sure that nothing goes to waste.
- Can I actually live without Starbucks? As of today, Starbucks Canada has gone to drive-through locations only, as well as locations frequented by hospital staff and first responders. Of course, I realized today that the Starbucks closest to my house and on the way to my office is next door to both a police station and a firehouse. As of today, I have no plans to go there soon, though.
- Is 60 a magical threshold for vulnerability? They seem to throw that age around a lot. I guess I might only be safe, then, until my birthday in May.
- What is an essential service? For the first time ever, I noticed that the massage parlour near my office is closed. They say there are no sexual services, but at $150 for 30 minutes, it’s no ordinary massage. (After I noticed the closure, I saw that the health authority in British Columbia has now ordered all personal service businesses to close, so maybe the owners did it because they had to rather than out of a concern for the women’s health.)
- Will everything old become new again? While out walking the dog, I noticed that the neighbours were playing charades with their kids. And my husband watched an old James Bond movie (Live and Let Die) with my younger son. My son found it very racist, though, so maybe not.
- What will the world be like after all this? I think that a lot of our habits and ways of interacting and of working will be changed permanently. Especially if this goes on as long as I think it might. I can’t quite imagine where it will all end up.
I’ve decided to start working from home beginning Monday, only going in when I have to (for cheque signing, for example). It was a really difficult decision for me to take — as my husband says, my attitude is that the captain(s) go down with the ship. We’ll see how I adjust to being at home and how my husband adjusts to me being there, after me having been gone most of the time for a long while.
My husband is also working at home, but he has often split his time between office and home. The difference now is that he will not be seeing clients, except if unavoidable. His income may eventually be affected, too, as he is paid per mortgage signed and the housing market is bound to slow. My younger son is doing his classes online from home now, too, as of last Monday. He doesn’t much like that, but he’s glad not to be riding the bus every day. My older son moved out on his own in December, so will not be isolating with us. His workplace is still operating for now — he does autobody paint and is paid by the job, so with less people driving, his income will definitely be affected.
My dog… well, he’s pretty relaxed about the whole thing.
Stay safe and healthy, everyone!