Among the multitude of challenges our community has been facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the dynamics of home-life versus work-life finds itself at the forefront of concern. With many of our chamber members being working parents, these obstacles find themselves present in the experiences of our neighbors and friends––feelings of isolation and lack of contact with others are commonly expressed attitudes.
“Most of us are struggling with it,” states Chamber Business Women Chair Stephanie Bobb. “A lot of us are super social, and up until now our social circles were still kind of allowing us to air hug or see somebody face-to-face. But now, that has all gone away.”
Every third Tuesday of the month, Chamber Business Women (CBW) meets (virtually) to discuss topics of interest among the female business community while also fostering strategic partnerships found nowhere else. As of late, the topic of working from home, and its varying experiences, is a discussion often held.
“I have a dog that wants my intention, a cat that’s walking across my computer screen, a UPS guy coming right when I’m on a conference call or what have you,” explains Bobb. “Everybody’s struggle is different.”
With 42 percent of the national workforce working from home, Stephanie’s experience evokes the zeitgeist 2020 has brought to the workplace. Struggles ranging from the lack of technical assistance to the desire to cultivate community among co-workers, the balancing act of maintaining personal fortitude finds itself under scrutiny.
“Before, I was working on my home laptop two times a week––No big deal. But now that it’s five days a week,” explains Bobb. “When I first started working from home, I didn’t have access to our S-drive because if I needed something, I could just access it at the office. It really makes you think about the things we took for granted.”
While technical problems can be solved, and pets can be put in their cages, maintaining healthy, empathetic relationships is a necessity to thrive amidst the trials of a pandemic. Luckily, there’s no need to wait for the formation of an exclusive club which supplies the former.
Chamber Business Women is our primary platform for female members of the Salem Chamber to create solid relationships, is a program whose members not only share their collective experiences regarding the current challenges of being working parents, they also help each other become better professionals through talks and development opportunities.
Despite the frustrations working from home can create, acknowledging the need for safety precautions is paramount for CBW’s ability to continue to operate.
“The overwhelming response is that we need to be safe,” says Bobb. “But every one of us is craving that personal interaction. That hug, that tap on the hand. That’s the part that’s really hard for folks.”
Given the right time, and if we choose to act on the necessities of keeping personal gatherings small, programs like CBW will one day be given the chance to meet in person again. Hugs will be rightfully distributed from friends, and family, alike.