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Women have always worked with one foot at work and the other at home, because they are expected to. Not so impossible, after all, as everyone working from home has discovered.
So you are working from home. Well now everyone is, so you don’t have to shush your child who came to ask you for a snack, or scold your mother for turning on the grinder during a call, or reprimand the garbage collector who rang the bell.
Professionals – both women and men, seem to have done this ‘adjustment’.
It reminds me of an old BBC interview where the man seems visually flustered as the kids troop in merrily while at an interview. But for someone like me who has raised a young child while being at work it didn’t seem anything out of place.
At a time when we see young and bold women at the top positions in office with their babies like the PM of New Zealand it is a bit passé to shoo away your kids or family because you are at a work call.
Work-life boundaries are anyway artificial, and now that work from home looks like it’s here to stay our understanding of work-life needs some desperate overhaul. Industries, where it was never acceptable to work from home, have suddenly discovered that they can, in fact have a more flexible working environment.
I agree one does require privacy, a separate work place or uninterrupted time while working, but that does not mean behaving like the family does not exist. Some employers also need some education on this as well as they expect their employees to not show any signs of other human life around them while they continue working from home during the pandemic.
Women have historically been told to work as if you have no family and raise your family as if you don’t work. That is however easier said than done.
Most of the time our compartments overlap because we are after all the same person with emotions and feelings. Our work affects our home life and vice versa, it is almost cruel to aim to keep it separate always.
Trust me no one thinks you work in a vacuum. And no one is going to think less of you if your child peeped into the video call. Take it in your stride; your team mates, your clients are human and hopefully they will understand.
Women’s Web follows a flexible model of working where work from home is normal. Other than an office space, we also have a remote team who regularly works from home, and have done so through pregnancies, small kids, etc. without productivity being affected.
Five years ago, I confess I used to put on a background office white noise soundtrack from YouTube when I worked from home and had calls with folks from Fortune 500 companies and others. Honestly, it sounded like I was in a printing press or a photocopy shop. Slowly I realised it doesn’t really matter as much as what I bring to the table.
So the next time your kid peeps in and you forgot to lock the door, don’t act as if treason was committed! It happens. Talk to the kid as you would, and send her out with a distraction. The world will continue.
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