log in or register to remove this ad

 

Downsides of Working From Home

I'm fortunate enough to have a job, in this era of pandemic, that lets me work from home. I'm in the roughly 1/3 of the workforce that is now doing so. It's a white-collar office job in a State Government bureaucracy.

For years I'd said our job could be done by telecommuting, that there was no reason we couldn't work from home. For years, I'd been told that was "absolutely impossible" or "utterly unthinkable" and was eventually told to stop asking or even mentioning the possibility of working from home. I was told it was never going to happen.

In March, they made the unthinkable happen real quick. On March 6, they pulled out a policy plan for working from home (apparently approved years ago and promptly shelved). . .where we'd all separately fill out written requests to work from home and send them up the chain of command to get approved (expected to take weeks for approval) and sign some lengthy telecommuting agreement IF our requests were approved, we'd all be issued laptop computers, we'd all be issued work phones, we'd all have to buy, at our own expense, locking filing cabinets for our home offices, and we'd still have to come in to work at least 1 day a week.

A week later, that changed. On March 13, suddenly they are asking if we have our own PC's with internet access at home, handing us flash drives and asking us to load all our work files on them, and asking everyone to share their personal cell phone numbers, and we are told at about 2 PM on Friday that, effective Monday morning, we're working completely from home for the next two weeks.

Those first two weeks were fine. Hands-off management, just make sure to fill out your timesheet online every day, e-mail in your finished paperwork to the one person left at the office who will upload them to the server (since we didn't have VPN or any other way to access the server), and fill out a status report form every week.

At the end of the two weeks, they said this was going to keep going for a while. . .and there aren't enough laptops to go around since the bulk of the civil service is all now working from home. . .and the IT department says VPN connections from our home computers are NOT going to be happening, so come and move your work desktop to your home and set it up there!

Also, around that time, they started to get a lot more micromanaging. E-mail your boss every day to clock in to work, e-mail them to clock out, e-mail them when you go on lunch, e-mail them when you come back from lunch. Status report forms are now daily, and they're watching with a hawk's eye what's on there and if you said you spend X time on something and they think that's too long, there will be hell to pay. I got assigned a case that was part of a program I'd never worked with or touched before, so I put on my daily status report one day that I'd spent the day reviewing the policies, laws, and regulations around that program. . .only to be chewed out saying it shouldn't have taken all day to do that and I was wasting time. Yet, if we were in the office that's still how long that task would have taken and nobody would have noticed or cared if I spent all day reading regulations and laws and policies about a new program I'd never had to work with before.

Informal office communications are a thing of the past. No more friendly telling someone something, everything is now a formal, stern e-mail (since it's on the record). Conversations that would be handled amiably and off-the-record in the past are now stern and formally worded e-mails for the record.

. . .and on top of the stress from the coronavirus pandemic we're all under, my father is dying. He's got advanced bone cancer, he's in a rest home that's under a strict quarantine lockdown due to the virus, so I can't even go to see him. He's been diagnosed with "weeks" to live, and they said that about 2 months ago. Every time I talk to him, it's clear he's fading, he's always more and more tired, sleepier and sleepier, and while he says he's "feeling fine" and "no issues", he's visibly wincing and grimacing as he says it, putting on a brave face. Barring a true miracle, I've seen my father for the last time in person and will most likely be burying him in the next month or two.

They now do a weekly conference call staff meeting, we're told this is the status quo "in the long term" and that even initial discussions about returning to the office aren't happening and won't happen until there's a vaccine, herd immunity, or a cure for the virus.

I know this has taken a toll on my productivity (and quite bluntly, my mental health), I think it would on just about anyone. . .so when they chew me out for not getting a lot of work done and I try to explain that, I'm told in no uncertain terms that if I'm on the clock I'm expected to be at 100% functionality and lost productivity due to worries or stress is NOT acceptable, that if I can't work at full capacity due to my father or due to stress over the coronavirus, I should take sick time off work.

Note that our job doesn't have paid leave for bereavement, when my father dies, I'll have to take sick leave for that too.

While I like not having to spend an hour and a half each day commuting, the increasing micromanagement, breakdown in office communications, and absolute lack of any empathy or compassion over what's going on with my father is making me very stressed.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

BrokenTwin

Explorer
Thankfully, my management has been fairly hands off from the get go, and the transition to working from home hasn't really changed that. As long as we're getting our work done and promptly responding to client issues, they don't really care. Micromanagers are the death of any healthy working environment. They destroy productivity, morale, and team spirit. It sucks that you have to deal with that on top of everything else going on in your life.
I've got a family member that's rapidly fading in a rest home as well, and it's rough. They're in late stage Alzheimer's to boot, which makes it easier in a weird way. The person I loved is already long gone, we're just waiting for their body to catch up.
 


Thakazum

Explorer
I've done it for long stretches before while freelancing and do not like it for me, personally. Different reasons, though. I find life becomes monotonous when I don't spend time away from my sanctum. I typically opt to not take advantage of telecommuting at workplaces for these and other reasons.
 

Ryujin

Adventurer
Unfortunately micro-managing seems to be status quo for the foreseeable future. Managers are afraid that their subordinates will slack off because they aren't constantly hovering over them, as they would on-site. Our weekly on-site status meetings have become daily meetings, in which the same thing is repeated over and over. I'm part of the group that supports desktop computing and networking (in a university), and I would regularly be walking all over campus, but am now chained to a desk. I'm using remote access software to troubleshoot issues that would take a fraction of the time, if hands-on.
 

payn

Explorer
OP, sorry to hear about your father and all the stress you are going through. I know that might not make you feel better, but i'm glad you could vent some of your frustration here.
 


Sorry to hear that working from home has been rough for you, @wingsandsword, and what you're going through with your father.

I was lucky in that my department had finally rolled out telecommuting about half a year ago. Our infrastructure was already in place when it went from a luxury to requirement.

I do miss seeing my coworkers in person, but to be honest a good portion of my department were already working from home most of the time. The whole no commuting thing for those with longer commutes was immediately appealing to them. Me, I can see where I work from my window.

I think that it's important to reach out to your coworkers, just to talk. It can be about work stuff or not. Whether it's an IM, call, or videocall, it helps. I know I need to be better about that, as it's easy to get focused on whatever I'm working on.

For me, I've had to work extra hard to get my physical activity. I was exercising plenty beforehand, but even with that, not having any sort of commute (I was one of those folks that would also take the steps instead of the elevator) definitely means I need to make sure I go for a walk (away from people) and get on the treadmill daily.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
The boss.


Sucks about your dad, I kinda knew when I saw Mum for the last time I wouldn't see her again. Worst thing with cancer is each time you visit there's a bit less of them there, you can't do anything about it and that feeling in your stomach doesn't go away.
 
Last edited:

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I think that it's important to reach out to your coworkers, just to talk. It can be about work stuff or not. Whether it's an IM, call, or videocall, it helps. I know I need to be better about that, as it's easy to get focused on whatever I'm working on.
My workplace has the President doing a fireside science chat every Friday, Thursdays is "Happy Hour" in which one of us does a short trivia contest - the winner gets a gift certificate to get lunch delivered to their home. I'm in the hot seat today, presenting a bit of sci-fi trivia.

This sort of thing can be strangely popular, because lots of folks are looking for human contact. Consider running it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes the idea.


The boss.
Possibly. The boss is also just as stressed as everyone else about the world around them, and having to figure out how to manage people working from home on the fly, probably expecting to be lambasted by their boss if productivity drops.

Fear is a powerful motivator, but it often motivates people to do the wrong things.
 

For years I'd said our job could be done by telecommuting, that there was no reason we couldn't work from home. For years, I'd been told that was "absolutely impossible" or "utterly unthinkable" and was eventually told to stop asking or even mentioning the possibility of working from home. I was told it was never going to happen.

In March, they made the unthinkable happen real quick.
I'm fortunate enough to work from home already (my company's home office is a couple of states away from me), but I had a similar experience >10 years ago. I had a pretty bad commute, and also had a couple of projects that required a deep delve - the kind of work where distractions really cost me a lot of time. Some time in the fall, I asked my boss if I could work from home for just a couple of days for peace and quiet to get through some projects. I was told it was absolutely not possible, despite the fact that I already had remote email and phone access.

That year we had a rough winter. After the second day the company was shut down because of weather, my boss approached me. Heavily paraphrased, the conversation went something along the lines of:

Boss: Remember awhile back when we talked about telecommuting? Are you still interested in getting that set up?
Me: Yeah, that would be great. I would love to work at home tomorrow, because I really need to focus on XYZ project and the roads cost me over an hour each way today.
B: No, you can't do it tomorrow. Only on days when the office is closed for weather. Or if you want to do some emails with the China office at night, or call in to meetings if you have a sick day.
M: What? You want me to work from home, using my own equipment, but only at times when I wouldn't otherwise be working?
B: Exactly.
M: No.

And that was the last we discussed telecommuting. I'm with a much better company now.
 

Tonguez

Legend
I'm fortunate enough to have a job, in this era of pandemic, that lets me work from home. I'm in the roughly 1/3 of the workforce that is now doing so. It's a white-collar office job in a State Government bureaucracy.

For years I'd said our job could be done by telecommuting, that there was no reason we couldn't work from home. For years, I'd been told that was "absolutely impossible" or "utterly unthinkable" and was eventually told to stop asking or even mentioning the possibility of working from home. I was told it was never going to happen.

In March, they made the unthinkable happen real quick. On March 6, they pulled out a policy plan for working from home (apparently approved years ago and promptly shelved). . .where we'd all separately fill out written requests to work from home and send them up the chain of command to get approved (expected to take weeks for approval) and sign some lengthy telecommuting agreement IF our requests were approved, we'd all be issued laptop computers, we'd all be issued work phones, we'd all have to buy, at our own expense, locking filing cabinets for our home offices, and we'd still have to come in to work at least 1 day a week.

A week later, that changed. On March 13, suddenly they are asking if we have our own PC's with internet access at home, handing us flash drives and asking us to load all our work files on them, and asking everyone to share their personal cell phone numbers, and we are told at about 2 PM on Friday that, effective Monday morning, we're working completely from home for the next two weeks.

Those first two weeks were fine. Hands-off management, just make sure to fill out your timesheet online every day, e-mail in your finished paperwork to the one person left at the office who will upload them to the server (since we didn't have VPN or any other way to access the server), and fill out a status report form every week.

At the end of the two weeks, they said this was going to keep going for a while. . .and there aren't enough laptops to go around since the bulk of the civil service is all now working from home. . .and the IT department says VPN connections from our home computers are NOT going to be happening, so come and move your work desktop to your home and set it up there!

Also, around that time, they started to get a lot more micromanaging. E-mail your boss every day to clock in to work, e-mail them to clock out, e-mail them when you go on lunch, e-mail them when you come back from lunch. Status report forms are now daily, and they're watching with a hawk's eye what's on there and if you said you spend X time on something and they think that's too long, there will be hell to pay. I got assigned a case that was part of a program I'd never worked with or touched before, so I put on my daily status report one day that I'd spent the day reviewing the policies, laws, and regulations around that program. . .only to be chewed out saying it shouldn't have taken all day to do that and I was wasting time. Yet, if we were in the office that's still how long that task would have taken and nobody would have noticed or cared if I spent all day reading regulations and laws and policies about a new program I'd never had to work with before.

Informal office communications are a thing of the past. No more friendly telling someone something, everything is now a formal, stern e-mail (since it's on the record). Conversations that would be handled amiably and off-the-record in the past are now stern and formally worded e-mails for the record.

. . .and on top of the stress from the coronavirus pandemic we're all under, my father is dying. He's got advanced bone cancer, he's in a rest home that's under a strict quarantine lockdown due to the virus, so I can't even go to see him. He's been diagnosed with "weeks" to live, and they said that about 2 months ago. Every time I talk to him, it's clear he's fading, he's always more and more tired, sleepier and sleepier, and while he says he's "feeling fine" and "no issues", he's visibly wincing and grimacing as he says it, putting on a brave face. Barring a true miracle, I've seen my father for the last time in person and will most likely be burying him in the next month or two.

They now do a weekly conference call staff meeting, we're told this is the status quo "in the long term" and that even initial discussions about returning to the office aren't happening and won't happen until there's a vaccine, herd immunity, or a cure for the virus.

I know this has taken a toll on my productivity (and quite bluntly, my mental health), I think it would on just about anyone. . .so when they chew me out for not getting a lot of work done and I try to explain that, I'm told in no uncertain terms that if I'm on the clock I'm expected to be at 100% functionality and lost productivity due to worries or stress is NOT acceptable, that if I can't work at full capacity due to my father or due to stress over the coronavirus, I should take sick time off work.

Note that our job doesn't have paid leave for bereavement, when my father dies, I'll have to take sick leave for that too.

While I like not having to spend an hour and a half each day commuting, the increasing micromanagement, breakdown in office communications, and absolute lack of any empathy or compassion over what's going on with my father is making me very stressed.
wow bureaucracy gone crazy - it sounds like the middle management were getting worried about having nothing to do and thus got HR to demand emails for everything.

I work from home and might go to the office maybe 3 -4 days a week or when I want something. We use group calls and Zoom a lot, but emails tend to be sufficient to stay in communication.
Having Outcomes based reporting is helpful and I think more productive.
 

FaerieGodfather

Aberrant Druid
Supporter
I sure do miss having a job a lot, most days, but I sure don't ever miss having a boss.

On the plus side, I'd ever had a boss like OP's, I wouldn't have had to put up with them for long.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
My boss is a giant a-ho ... wait, I'm self-employed; as a consultant, I usually work from home, or take stuff to a cafe to work. Sorry to hear of your troubles @wingsandsword micromanaging bosses are terrible. It never seems like it's one thing, fate always loads up until there is the straw that broke the camel's back.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
My Dad has started doing telemedicine. It’s a pay cut, but Mom appreciates the safety of it, given the current situation.

Downside, the parent company is still working out technical issues.

Also, we have barky dogs.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
My last job had an optional WFH day once a week, but you were judge for using it, and often assumed not to be working. There was even talk of having a camera on at your desk at all times while working from home as if that would somehow would make you more productive. These amongst other inane policies caused me to look for employment elsewhere. Of course now practically everyone there is WFH.

I was fortunate enough to take a full time remote position at the end of January at a company that had been 50% WFH and 50% in office. It's now 95% WFH, but the transition was relatively easy for the rest of the company. Managers treat their employees like adults and wait for problems to arise before addressing them, instead of trying to address non-existent problems with draconian measures. To help with needs all employees got an additional 6 sick days and the sick policy was loosened to make dependent care a qualifier for using sick time instead of vacation. I know how lucky I am to work for reasonable people keeping clear heads right now.

My condolences @wingsandsword for the idiots forcing these stupid policies on you and your coworkers but most especially for you father.
 


Ryujin

Adventurer
My Dad has started doing telemedicine. It’s a pay cut, but Mom appreciates the safety of it, given the current situation.

Downside, the parent company is still working out technical issues.

Also, we have barky dogs.
If you're running an advanced NVidia video card in your computer, there's a rather impressive beta currently running for noise suppression. I know a couple of people who are using it and it's rather remarkable. Sadly, I've got a AMD card.

 



Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top