COVID-19

People are adjusting to working from home for the long haul

Meghan McCarty Carino May 22, 2020
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
After two months of working remotely, people are adjusting to the idea of working from home long-term. Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

People are adjusting to working from home for the long haul

Meghan McCarty Carino May 22, 2020
Heard on:
After two months of working remotely, people are adjusting to the idea of working from home long-term. Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

It’s been more than two months since stay-at-home orders sent millions of workers home, with kids and partners crowding houses and folks trying to manage scattered teams under challenging conditions. Marketplace has been telling workers’ stories since the early days of quarantine, and we checked back in this week to see how things have changed.

We first talked to Eric Ciesielski in mid-March, when the account executive for a software company in Cleveland was working from a card table in the basement playroom, the screams of his children frequently in the background.

Not much has changed since then. He still doesn’t have a desk, even though he’s probably going to work from home permanently. His company is doing OK, but it’s giving up some of its office space, which could make things tricky for a long time.

“The kids are much less respecting of my space,” he said — especially his 1-year-old.

“I think she just sees it as ‘Daddy’s home, Daddy’s not going back to work,'” he said. “She kind of just thinks of it as a big vacation.”

In Berkeley, California, freelance writer Allison Landa was chafing at her crowded workspace after just the first week of quarantine. Her husband, who works in quality assurance at Bayer, and her 4-year-old son were both packed into their small two-bedroom apartment and at each other’s throats.

“We haven’t killed each other yet, which is wonderful,” she said. In fact, things have gotten much better. The chaos has forced her to become more Zen about interruptions, like her barking dogs or occasional video conference intrusions by a pantsless child.

“I used to be much more uptight about stuff like that,” she said. “Now I just sort of laugh, and I’m like, ‘Well, meet my son.’”

She enjoys having lunches and going on midday walks with her family — time together they never really had before.

And the normal rhythms of work are starting to return for Eric Reddy and his sales team at human resource software company Reward Gateway in Boston.

Back in April, they struggled being sequestered at home, with the prospect of making sales pitches during a pandemic not too appealing.

“That’s an interesting place to put a salesperson to say, ‘Hey, don’t sell for a little bit,'” he said. But business has picked up since then.

“I’ve definitely noticed improvement in the engagement and the morale of the team,” he said, “because they’re able to have more conversations, people are picking up the phones when they’re giving them a call.”

The situation has forced him to become a better communicator, and he said he feels more connected to his team as they’ve gone through some hard times together. He said three employees had to take time off because they came down with COVID-19. They’ve all recovered and are back at work now … from home, that is.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Give me a snapshot of the labor market in the U.S.

U.S. job openings in February increased more than expected, according to the Labor Department. Also, the economy added over 900,000 jobs in March. For all of the good jobs news recently, there are still nearly 10 million people who are out of work, and more than 4 million of them have been unemployed for six months or longer. “So we still have a very long way to go until we get a full recovery,” said Elise Gould with the Economic Policy Institute. She said the industries that have the furthest to go are the ones you’d expect: “leisure and hospitality, accommodations, food services, restaurants” and the public sector, especially in education.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

Read More

Collapse

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.