Why Aren’t We Talking More About Expectations and the Current Remote Working Situation?

Read yet another media story on working remotely and how it will change work forever once the pandemic is over. This one, from Bloomberg, actually took the opposite stance and talked about how the future of work is in the office.

Why Aren’t We Talking More About Expectations and the Current Remote Working Situation?

But, all these media reports and articles are ignoring the bigger issue right now: how companies have not altered employee performance expectations AT ALL during the pandemic as many of us adapt to a new, remote working environment.

That’s the story–and very few media outlets are talking about that.

I mean, just think about what’s happened in the last four months:

  • The first serious, worldwide pandemic in more than 100 years has occurred.
  • It forced a large chunk of the workforce (almost all of the PR/marketing workforce) to work from home for the foreseeable future
  • Civil unrest and racial injustice spurred violence and rallies we haven’t seen since the 1960s.
  • And, through it all, schools across the country closed and may not even open up this fall.

So, to recap, many of us were forced to work remotely full-time for the first time ever at one of the most stressful points in our nation’s history–WITH OUR KIDS AT HOME WITH US!

Just think about that for a minute.

Then, consider this: If you work in PR/comms/social media, there’s a whole different level to this.

Many other industries are performing their jobs at home right now–and have been doing so for the last four months. It’s been stressful, I’m sure. But, it’s been doable. And, they’ve probably had the same expectations on them they would have if they were in the office.

BUT, in the PR/comms/social arena, we’ve been working, essentially, in crisis mode for four straight months. This means MORE expectations. MORE work. And, in some cases, fewer resources given furloughs and layoffs.

So, again, to recap: In PR/comms/social, we’re doing WAY more work, under the more intense stress of our lives, WITH OUR KIDS AT HOME!

This sounds like a recipe for disaster. And, for many, I would guess it has been. I’ll admit: there have been points over the last four months where I’ve been the most stressed I’ve been in my life. No question.

And, from all accounts, many employers seem to be oblivious.

They just keep piling on the work. Heaping on the expectations. Nothing changes.

Except, everything has changed.

Our work environment has changed.

Our emotional state has changed (and, continues to change).

And, our work has changed–many of us in this business are dealing with situations we’ve never seen before!

At the same time, many of us feel the pressure to take on more and do the extra work because we should be so lucky to have a job when so many people are out of work. And, to a certain extent, this is true.

But, I just can’t help but think of the two-income earner family who is trying to juggle two full-time jobs, two kids under 5 and the prospect of doing what we’re doing right now well into 2021.

Folks, that’s not sustainable for many people. And, that scenario I listed above is very true for a LOT of people. We’re lucky, I guess. Our kids are 12 and 15. They can sustain on their own (for the most part). But, they’re still HOME. With us. Every day. That definitely impacts my productivity.

The final (and maybe most important layer): Many in our industry are female. They lead our households and they’re doing a lot more work than just their day job. So, on top of everything I mentioned above, women are also: cleaning, buying groceries, cooking, doing laundry and many, many other things many men typically (but not always) don’t do. Bottom line: the pressure on them is even greater at this time.

So, I guess I would implore corporate management teams: Think about what you’re asking your PR/comms/social teams to do. Think about their home environment. Think about the stress WE’RE ALL under right now. Because it’s significant.

And, there should definitely be a bigger conversation happening about this right now.

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