Monday, March 23, 2020

7 More Things About Social Isolation Life

1. Someone said two or so weeks ago to start documenting changes and at the time I scoffed.  I believed we were headed for a tough period.  But I had somehow not fully thought through the ripples.  Schools converting to distance learning, jobs converting to telecommuting sure.  The rapid shift in how and where people buy their supplies for daily life, sure.  But I hadn't thought about what it would mean for the restaurants and coffee shops to close.  Because yes, takeout and delivery exist but not all restaurants participated, in fact several of my faves didn't.  There are no good answers here.  Just as many of those restaurants and hardware stores and stationary stores would fail if half or more of their workforce ended up hospitalized. We're just, to use a messy metaphor, trying to divert the lava flow.  But we can't stop it.  So all of that is to say, if this has been hard, it isn't because distance learning or telecommuting or losing jobs or being asked for overtime in hospitals or grocery stores - all of these things are hard.  Piling them together is harder.  And if your life hasn't materially changed, it is likely both hard and easy as more people join you in experimenting with ways to be connected distantly.  A year ago my family would have scoffed at a video conference call.  In another week or so, I might be able to convince them. 
2. I've pointed a few folks to the Glitch employee handbook. I do not work for Glitch, but they are a company that has had remote workers for a while.  At my old company, I was part of the first teams they made remote and there were things that were handled well, and things that were not, and it's a learning process for everyone.  Glitch is a tech company, not all their process will translate.  But one of the big challenges is finding managers who are unfamiliar with how to manage from afar, and having a corporate guide to point to can be helpful.  The reality is this, there are things that are fundamentally changed when people can't walk by your desk, and some of that means getting better at communication.  Add in that many folks now have extra people in their house all day and may need to adjust their hours to account for that, there's going to be some adjustments.  It does not mean that anyone should have to be on camera all day so that their boss can see them working.  (Yeah, I know retail employees, I dislike it for you too.)  
3. The FOMO is real.  I have already reached the there are now three things happening Wednesday at 7 that I want to do point.  As more things are occur online, it is wonderful and great, but you are still only one person. You cannot do all the things. 
4. Move.  Depending on the type of commute you had before, it likely involved more steps than getting to the home desk does.  So you are going to need more movement in your life.  Even if you commuted by car, you may have walked more through large grocery stores, or other things.  No one needs a car commute back in their day (I assume) but moving less will make you crankier. Figure out ways to move the same as you did before even if the type of movement changes. 
5. Studies show that being outside with trees or other nature helps.  Depending on the level of social isolation or quarantine you are currently dealing with, you may have less of that available.  Staring out the window at a tree gets you close.  Looking at pictures of plants is also close.  Watching a livestream of the cherry blossoms for a few minutes is close. Make time for that in your day.  
6.  Have you heard that washing your hands helps?  Yeah, I know.  It does.  But also feel free to indulge in the nicest of handcreams.  I tend to be a person that has a bottle of lotion or tube of something in every bag.  
7. If the social isolation has you lonely, consider fostering a pet if possible.  Shelters are having limited staff and volunteers come in, and of course cannot do normal adoption expos right now.  Fostering is by definition temporary, so if you end up not loving the pet life, the foster will get adopted.  If you have floofs in your home, and hove not started a social media format that regularly features them, now might be a great time.