Updated: Jan 24, 2021
Working from home has certainly had its challenges for all of us. Particularly for those with kids. Having no daycares to send our kids to, combined with their “pent-up” energy levels given the reduced activities they were left able to partake in, and you have a recipe for a nuclear disaster.
March 22nd I’m on my first zoom/teams call with colleagues, and like most of us were at that time (some still are), disheveled, exhausted and frankly in despair (that and likely wearing boxers or pajamas as the bottom part of our wear). Some of us worked in our normal home offices and if you were lucky it all looked semi-decent. Then there were the rest of us. Turning bedrooms, kitchens, heck even storage rooms into areas that would look like workplaces (in some refugee camps). Thankfully we eventually figured out how to change the backgrounds and some, albeit not all, of our clients, colleagues, etc actually believed that these were our real office digs (how having a background of a café in Cuba managed to fool some I still don’t know to this day).
Outside of the appearances, the most troubling was when one of our kids would knock on the door. Heck my kids don’t just knock, they knock and immediately enter. Kind of like The Fonz in Happy Days when he'd knock on the Cunningham's front door and just barge in. I would immediately scramble to try and turn off the camera, find the damn mute button, but often, to no avail. “Papa I spilled the bowl of spaghetti on the carpet” or “Papa I think the microwave just exploded” (did I mention my kids are almost 12).
But when you are in the middle of a client presentation, in precarious economic times, you will often resort to desperate measures to “shoo” them away,
I quickly mastered the art of “flicking” objects at them but without any change in my facial expression. Just a subtle flick of the wrist with virtually no movement of any other body parts, never deviating from the eye contact I had with the clients. Stress balls (I own several), pencils, heck even staplers flying at my incoming kids. I was slowly becoming Marvel's Bullseye character, proud of myself when I’d hit the target (not so proud when my wife walked in to the room one day and a big, fat eraser hit her square in the head).
Over time, I began perfecting my craft. Dimming the lights during these Zoom calls, just showing my forehead and eyes (like Tim Allen’s neighbor in Home Improvement) to avoid clients being able to spot my growing Gandalf beard, and of course, staying on mute as much as possible. Needless to say though, there were numerous “incidents”, like the time I thought the camera was off (don’t worry this was not a Jeffrey Toobin moment) and I was making funny faces at my dog while mimicking his barking or the times I would be stuffing myself with potato chips (camera off, sound on).
One thing is certain. We will one day be able to look back on these covid “incidents” and laugh. One day soon...right? Perhaps by then, suit and dress shirt with boxers on will be the new norm.