By now, everybody who can work from home is working from home.
Fun? At first it sounds like an extremely appealing idea. No early alarms jolting the morning sleeper out of bed; no rush to dress — just lounge in those jammies; no quickly slurped cup of coffee or juice as you rush out the door for what seems like an endless commute fighting other traffic to get to work on time.
How idyllic! Except it apparently does not take long for the delights of the homebound job to fade.
(Although, a lifetime ago, when I worked for a box/container making company, I dreamed of not having to be on the job in the plant.)
Nevertheless, with the homebound work, we often find that sleeping past the alarm — or dispensing with the alarm all together — only leaves us feeling groggy, generally out of whack, unable to concentrate and too often feeling behind in finishing the required tasks.
OK, at least that is how I function — or, rather do not function. (Note: my spouse is one of those irritatingly bouncy individuals who pops up three minutes before the alarm blares and hops jovially out of bed. Most irritatingly, after he showers and dresses he bee-bops down the stairs la-la-la-ing. At that moment, I’m growling and burying my head in a mound of pillows.)
Whether folks can easily conquer morning doldrums or perhaps just need some social contact — other than family — at some point during the day, it has become obvious that “remote working” leaves most people in need of, at least, some social interaction.
On Feb. 26, a nursing home in Seattle was the site of the first COVID-19 death in the United States.
Then as other nursing home residences tested positive for the virus, some proactive employers exhibiting an abundance of caution suggested that their employees work via computer from their homes.
Admittedly, I thought, at the time, that it was an “overabundance of caution.”
A Seattle-based company, Steyer Content was unique. Many of its employees had worked online for years, so they were accustomed to the virtual work site.
Over the years, to help maintain staff interaction, Kate Walton, the company’s CEO, held regular luncheons where employees exchanged ideas. A portion of the lunch time was devoted to casual socialization. With the advent of the COVID-19 flu virus, Walton thought it prudent to end the lunches.
However, “As the news about the coronavirus became more dire, Walton decided to get more creative. The company recently held its first virtual happy hour, with people joining in on a video call with their favorite drink after work.
“’It was quite simply a way for us to shoot the breeze, you know, from a safe distance, to kind of have a little bit of that water-cooler effect that even after a few days we were starting to miss,’ she says.”
“The first happy hour was so popular that they held it again last Thursday. And several employees are eagerly figuring out how to make a virtual karaoke party happen.” -NPR Special Series, March 15.
The virtual BYOB party must have really been a hit with the staff since several employees are now trying to set up a virtual karaoke night!
We do seem to be an inordinately social animal.
Amazingly, back when my spouse and I we’re out at the grocery store and pharmacy stocking up on foods and meds, we found people were more willing to say hello and chat briefly. We were standing in line patiently waiting. Yes, they practiced social distancing, keeping a fair space between customers. We talked. Folks, who in normal times, would hardly have noticed each other chatted the way old acquaintances might palaver.
Commonsense would indicate that most folks — in such a contagious time — would make an extraordinary effort to avoid others and actually shun interacting entirely. That was not the case. The willingness to interact is counterintuitive to practicality. Such behavior demonstrates that we humans are indeed extremely social creatures.
Beyond our inherent sociability, humans can be amazing in dire times. In crisis, remarkably, human creativity can abound.
Over the epidemic-filled weeks, as we become more aware of how germ ladened our common handshakes are, folks figured out novel ways to meet and greet.
Elbow bumps are accepted. Some — from my perspective — more athletic types are throwing their arms in the air, waving both hands as they kick both feet out to each side. If I tried that, my behind would be smack on the ground. Others are resorting to the old-fashioned hand wave. My grandkids favor air hugs — throwing their arms wide open and pretending to hug without actually touching. They also share carefully blown kisses. That’s kissing their hands and pretending to blow kisses. Don’t actually blow, just pretend to.
My favorite greeting was suggested by none other than the leader of Israel.
“At a time when public events such as Purim parades are canceled, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suggesting people adopt ‘Namaste,’ a traditional greeting in India. He demonstrated at a recent press conference, with his hands pressed together and a slight bow.” -Health News from NPR, March 15.
Referring to the dictionary, I found that “Namaste is usually spoken with a slight bow and hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest. This gesture is called Añjali Mudrā; the standing posture incorporating it is Pranamasana. In Hinduism, it means “I bow to the divine in you.””
(Note: I discovered, after the fact, that I could have just asked my daughter and granddaughter. They not only demonstrated namaste, but also pronounced the word.)
I cannot think of a better way to greet others. Indeed, we should exercise caution, if not for our own sake, for that of others.
What greater respect can we demonstrate than bowing to that divine portion that is a part of us all? Such an attitude can help us endure this pandemic, together.