The Internet is full of business cats: Dealing with the breakdown of the work/home divide

A cartoon portrays a woman working at a laptop with a curious cat in her lap.

Enlarge / Artist's impression of how little your cat cares about your video call. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

The Friday "beer-thirty" Zoom conferences began for me not too long into the lockdown. A co-worker scheduled them as a form of stress release and socialization as we all prepared for what we already knew was going to be at least a year of not seeing each other in person—and for someone who had just started with the company a few weeks prior, I needed it.

Working from home has always been isolating, but it has become even more so in 2020. And for those of us who've worked from home full-time in the past—well, at least for those of us who have done that and have loud families and kids with no concept of personal space—it has also become a lot harder to maintain a division between home life and work life. Our spouses and kids (and in some cases, adult kids) are all home at the same time, working or studying or playing or just breathing too loudly in the same space as us.

Meow mix

For those of you who've never enjoyed the solitude of a home office when everyone else is out of the house, trust me: what we have right now is not what working at home has been like for the past 25 years for me. To adjust to this, organizations must figure out how to keep teams cohesive in the absence of regular social contact. They also must find a balance between being communicative and being intrusive into the home life of employees, all while still keeping some kind of coherent work environment going so people can talk to each other and get work done.

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