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Programming during a pandemic!

I am sure it is not a surprise to anyone who is not living under a rock to say there is a pandemic outside! At the start of this year our lives got shaken up and things are still changing from day to day as we figure this out. I thought I would share a little about my experience so far as a developer during this shift and what it has been like in the chaos that is my life right now.

Previously I worked from home 1-2 days a week and I loved those days. My husband is a stay at home dad and also a gym rat. This means that I get to spend more time with him and the kids those mornings but that they would go spend a couple of hours at the gym and go out for lunch leaving me to enjoy the silence of my home for a few hours. These were some of my most productive maker days at work; days I tried to protect to not have meetings whenever possible and to set times on my calendar where I may snooze notifications and just focus on making a drive to get things done.

Then as Covid-19 started to spread and businesses started to close my company and all the employees went to a 100% remote working situation. I was so thankful to be in an industry where this was a possibility. I know so many friends and family for whom this just wasn't a possibility. So my first feeling when this started was mostly gratitude.

The first week was an adjustment but almost fun. Figuring out how to do meetings in a way that was productive. Some meetings went just as smooth others not so much when grooming a story is interrupted 10 times due to audio glitches and technical difficulties. It led our team to a lot of great conversations about how to improve the way we communicate which are so valuable even when not in a pandemic.

Early on my mom got sick. She ended up going to the hospital and had a really terrible week. (Though it felt like an eternity.) I was a panicked mess. I brought her groceries to her door and called constantly but ultimately felt like I couldn’t do anything to make her better. We just had to take it day by day until she recovered. I was thankful she made her recovery but it was an eye-opener to the new state of the world around us. It brought home what was going on outside and made it personal. It made it a constant thought in the back of your mind. My mom is fine now but what if someone else I love is next and aren't as fortunate.

The next couple of weeks is when the realities continued to set in.

To get the same amount of work done was not the same amount of effort.

I started to find out how inefficient my home set up was going to be. I didn't have my extra monitors or my favorite keyboard. I didn't have a supportive chair at my desk. For the 1-2 days I used to work from home I enjoyed sitting at my kitchen or bouncing around with my laptop but for everyday programming I realized I missed the stability of my setup. I didn't realize how I took for granted the comforts of going into the office. I took for granted the stability of knowing everyone is healthy and the toll that worry can have on you.

I thought things would improve once I started to make my desk more official but again things just got harder. Everything started to close, not just some companies like mine working remotely when it was still optional. Schools closed, the gym closed, we stopped going places. I didn't realize then that my last time going to work was going to be the last time I drove my car for months! With schools and gyms closed my husband and 2 kids were now going to be home a lot more. Before working from home was a treat for me where I could schedule doctor appointments, after school activities, and enjoy the silence of my home. Now I am starting to forget what that silence sounded like!

My son was now throwing a tantrum in the background of our stand up meeting. My baby is crying and ready for a nap during our after lunch grooming. My kids interrupt meetings with my boss to tell me that they are bored! My husband is lifting weights in our living room making all the fun noises that go along with that. It is a family adventure for sure.

Things are still loud and crazy but I started to feel a change. The more clients I talked with I noticed I wasn't alone. I started to see our clients with their kids hollering in the background that they want to play. Babies who need to be fed or sitting in their parents' laps. Children laughing and running through the rooms of my coworkers. Spouses working across from them talking in their own company meetings. It felt like such a relief to know I am not alone in the chaos in my home. It brought a humanizing factor to so many of the people I have worked with for years. Seeing people you thought were so serious and unapproachable, be so vulnerable, brought a humbleness through our various organizations. Humility turned that fear and anxiety I had started to feel into a new camaraderie.

It brought a humanizing factor to so many of the people I have worked with for years.

Our working situation got harder, projects got harder, and our lives got harder. We pushed to get changes out quickly to help our clients as their landscape was dramatically changed due to the closings around us. Projects that should have been months planned out were planned over several hours, executed in a couple of weeks when it would have normally taken months; but we did it. We pushed beyond what we thought we could and delivered. It was a challenge but so satisfying to have so many different teams working together to a common goal and actually on the same page for a glorious moment. (Why can't we always just agree right from the get-go? 😝)

But, did I mention it was hard? Because really it was a lot of work. Now it is finished. It was released into the wild and now we all have to take a breath and acknowledge wow what a feat; let's not do that again anytime soon. We were all working overtime trying so hard to be there when our users needed us and give them the tools they needed during this time. Now we have to remind ourselves that herculean effort is not sustainable. Working from home 100% was blurring lines of work and home. When your computer is always right next to you and everyone is working weird hours it can feel like it never ends. I am thankful for my team because this brought the second round of discussions about boundaries and how to help each other stay accountable to themselves and how to take back our time in a respectful way.

That brings us to the now. I am trying to stay grounded and know that I can let this drown me or I can embrace the positives and let it lift me. Instead of focusing on the meltdowns I remind myself that I also get to experience the hysterical laughs of my son during a lunch break and all of my baby's firsts that I may have missed otherwise. I am working on refinding the balance in my life. I am grateful for the opportunity to find that with my family and have the support of my coworkers who are figuring out their balance right along with me.

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