Nobody planned on this. But here we are, all trying to make the best of it between Zoom playdates, extra snacks, backyard tents, and many, many movies. #allinthistogether, right?
I’m talking to you, employer, who isn’t being flexible. And I know you’re out there — because moms talk. A lot.
I know there are so many small businesses and companies who never planned for this — who maybe, maybe, planned for a slow month or two, or to be closed for two weeks after a hurricane, but not this, not months of potentially zero income. I’m sure it hurts all of their hearts to say to even a single employee, “I’m so sorry, I can’t pay you anymore.” That’s not who I’m talking about. I also don’t mean all of those on the front lines in healthcare, or those providing basics like food, banking, military service, delivery services, or law enforcement. We need you, and we are so grateful for what you are doing.
I’m talking about the employers who still expect their employees to physically be present even though they can easily work from home, with a little creativity and imagination or an investment in technology. Employers who think that this virus is all overblown, or think that because they’ve never allowed people to work from home, they’re not going to start now. Or who don’t have the open mind to realize, OMG, the internet is a great invention and allows productivity from anywhere. Or because they just don’t trust their employees, which is I suspect is the bigger issue here.
Let me set you straight. If anything, I’m working harder from home just to prove to you I can do this, that I do add value, that I am worth employing. (And if you don’t trust me, why did you hire me in the first place?) Sure, my kids are home. Sure, I have to work around their constant needs and homeschool sessions and Paw Patrol episodes and snack requests. But I’m working. I want this job — I need it. And as things seem to unravel more and more, I want to keep this job.
So guess what? I’m going to do the absolute best I can, even work harder than I might at the office when I may be distracted by lunch with co-workers — just to show you I am doing the best I can for you, your customers, and your business. I may not be working eight straight hours in a row, but I’ll be working after my kids are asleep, before they wake up, and any other second I can snatch without being interrupted.
There are CEOs forgoing salaries and bonuses (not that it will hurt them, so no standing ovation there, but it will help those lower on the totem pole), big companies temporarily hiring restaurant servers and bartenders, and companies going out of the way to help those who are losing paychecks, working hours, or tips. And so, if you, as a company or business owner are able to — DO IT. Pay that employee just one more week so they can feed their children. Provide paid sick leave so no one feels they have to choose between keeping their job or infecting others. Provide wipes and hand sanitizer and soap and time in the day to use those things. Let employees work flexible hours so the office isn’t as full, so their spouse can work, too, and so their children are cared for. And don’t make this social distancing last any longer than it has to when your employees could easily work from home. Trust me, while everyone else shelters in place, do you want to know what all of your employees are thinking? They’re thinking: When all of this is over, I am going to look for another job, at a place that cares more about me.
Oh, I know. Employees are replaceable. But so are you. And one day, when COVID-19 is blessedly and thankfully over and we are all safe to go out and socialize and spend money again — no one will forget hearing about your company, the company that put money and control before people. The company that — while others did their best to stay home, to work remotely and homeschool, to protect those in the healthcare industry by trying in every way not to spread coronavirus — didn’t. For no good reason. And we’ll let you know we haven’t forgotten that — with our feet and with our dollars.
As working moms, working parents, tasked suddenly with watching children 24/7, educating them in some form so they aren’t too far behind their peer group — in addition to keeping our incomes stable so we can continue to provide for our families — I’m telling you, we’re doing the best we can. Not only for ourselves, but for our children, those in the healthcare industry, for the safety of others, and for our employers. Especially our employers.
You should do the same.