There’s one good thing about this current enforced “working from home”: hard-nosed companies are now forced to acknowledge that “human resources” are actually … wait for it … people – with families!
Video conference calls feature babies bouncing on laps, teenagers skulking, dogs barking, and an occasional employee rushing off to wipe a small bottom. And companies can now see that home-work actually works, because most people don’t need constant policing to do what they’re paid to do.
The job is still getting done. It’s about time.
Many moons ago my youngest child was sick. Because I was on deadline, I took him to the office with me and stuck him under my desk on a mattress, with some of his favourite toys.
He was an angel. Nonetheless, I was called in to the boss and given a proper telling off. Should I have stayed home, I asked? No! We were on deadline!
Instead I should have found a magical A.N. Other to look after him while I came to work. The take-home message? Children were bad.
Another job, another day: I was on the weekend shift, leaving my son with my sister for the day. Before I arrived she took her cat to the vet, but was in a crash and ended up in hospital.
I did what I had to: I took my boy’s hand in mine and went to my appointments, determined not to fail. Nonetheless, come Monday I was dragged over the coals for “unprofessionalism”.
Another time I was flown to Cape Town for an interview for a job that I still fantasise about. Some chap and I were the final candidates. However, during the interview the managing director asked what foolproof arrangements I had should my children get sick, or indeed if the organisation wanted me after hours.
Dodgy questioning, yes, but what could I do? He asked me nothing else, except if I’d mind if he ate his lunch. Game over. I lost it because I had children. Why does it take a pandemic to teach us that children are not an inconvenience, but a fact of life?
The truth is that providing for our families financially, as well as physical and emotionally, is what makes us reliable; it’s what keeps us striving long after the clock has been punched.