Adult Snow Day: Considerations for Working During a Mega-Storm
I thought snow days ended once school did. Yet here I am, today, locked in my apartment waiting out what I'm told might be the biggest snowstorm in the history of Massachusetts (I don't quite buy that promise, but will admit it's already quite terrifying out there!). Still, even with the menacing (although mis-named in my opinion) "Nemo" raging down on my home, I am still able to work. For me, as a young employee, this is the only type of workplace that I know. The ability to work remotely and to stay connected even during the most treacherous conditions has led to constantly teathered employees. But is this a good or a bad thing? Well, I don't want to place any value judgement on it, but there are certainly differences between the two realities.
Personally, I am happy that I am still able to get my work done today. The fact is that in the Northeast, we are the only ones faced with dealing with this storm, and our other employees, partners, and clients around the world are still counting on us to perform. If I wasn't able to work, it wouldn't mean that my projects would just go away. They would still be there on Monday, along with the workload for the following week, and I'd rather not have to worry about that overwhelming feeling!
But I'm lucky, I live and care for myself, in a property that I rent. For those with children who are home on these days as well, or who have to worry about the snow piling up on their rooftops, or trapping their cars on the street, this storm presents a much more dangerous obstacle. The idea that we are all connected all of the time places unfair expectations on those individuals who have more important worries during such a horrendous blizzard. Fortunately at Quaero (and I'm not just saying this because I'm biased), the leaders are very gracious, and have urged us to take appropriate action and communicate to our managers should we need to log off early to deal with the ramifications of this storm. But I suspect not all organizations would be so understanding. Prior to this new economy of ultra-connectivity, being trapped inside your home meant that you would not have the option of work, which would take the challenge out of this new-age balancing act.
As I sit comfortably in my living room, sipping on a coffee and watching the snow literally blow sideways outside my window, I can't help but also think about the clear divide that this reality has created between online organizations and traditional brick and mortar companies. After all, there are still many workers who do have to travel to work in order to make a living, including retail workers, coffee shop barristas, and anyone who works at event venues, etc. This storm is occuring over a Friday and Saturday, which has particularly harsh consequences for the bar/restaurant locations that rely so heavily on income over these two days each week. In Boston, the local government has called for a driving ban after 4 PM, meaning that these hourly workers won't even be legally allowed to work tonight, which will cost them and their companies a good deal of money.
I'm biased in that I have never been a fan of snow (I am 6'5" and am too uncoordinated to ski), but I can't help but to consider how a storm like this has such a dramatic impact on the local and national economy. Whether or not you have the ability to work from home, make sure that you have a well stocked supply of food, and stay safe until Nemo finds its way back into the ocean!