Monday, February 01, 2021

Remote Grief is Odd

Pandemic life, where so much of our contact occurs, furtively, virtually, or masked is odd.  Grieving or dealing with trauma in these situations is odd.  But I want to specifically address how this is especially odd for remote employees.  
I remember someone posting a thing about how folks always think living under a dictator somehow means you don't also have to do laundry or go to work every day.  Remote employment can feel a little like that.  Obviously, the recent invasion of the Capitol building has put this firmly in mind, but there are many examples.  I was a remote employee during the winter DC had all the blizzards.  My manager at the time lived in Salt Lake City.  I wasn't asking for time off, or even special treatment, but I was trying to contextualize for people that when you live somewhere that isn't used to snow at that level, literally everything changes.  Walking to the grocery store is different when you have to peer around giant towers of snow to figure out if there's a car coming.  
Similarly atrocities like mass shootings and such occur, and some employees will be nearby, might know someone there, and some won't.  The disconnect is exacerbated by workers being remote and in different places.  
Now, I am not against remote work.  This is just a reminder that if you are working with employees in places like DC or Nashville, to pick two recent examples, it is not realistic to expect that people there are operating at peak capacity amid a huge event.  I am aware that there are times when the day job is the only thing that makes sense, and that is an acceptable response too.  But one thing an in person office facilitates, is a natural space, a water cooler if you will, for employees to gather and do the normal check ins.  To say more than yes, I am physically safe right now.  To talk about how getting groceries or what this means for loved ones who had to work through these recent events because they are essential, or who had their work cut short as a result of it, and the concerns that that raises.  
All of this is to say, check in with your people.  Check in with your co-workers, your reports, your folks.  Not just when something weird happens, but regularly.  Because the other thing we know is that grief isn't a linear process.  It's a journey.