I hate working from home but my company's coronavirus policy is forcing me to. Here's how I'm staying sane.

Graham Rapier / Business InsiderCompared to my desk at work, this workspace is actually fairly clean and organised.
  • I’m stuck working from home this week thanks to my company’s coronavirus policy.
  • Last week, I returned from a vacation in Japan just as cases there (and in the US) were starting to spread rapidly.
  • Working from home is the worst, but I’m determined to make the most of the week.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It’s been one day and I’m already going a little stir crazy.

Last week, I was informed by a manager that any Insider employees who had recently travelled to countries affected by the quickly spreading coronavirus (Japan, in my case) were to work from home for two weeks from the date of their return. That means until Monday March 9 for me, despite being in the office for three days after my trip.

A few of my coworkers were jealous, but I hate working from home. Distractions are plentiful, company is nonexistent, and there isn’t any free coffee. I cannot emphasise enough the lack of free coffee. There are also some tools, like the Bloomberg Terminal, that we can’t access remotely. I’m sure I will be nagging some coworkers to help me find information.

Complaints aside, and left with no choice, I was determined to make the most of my temporarily remote status. After all, some 24.8 million Americans – both full-time and self-employed – work from home on an average day, according to 2018 numbers from the Bureau of Labour Statistics.

So I asked my Twitter followers for their advice. The responses ranged from what you might expect: Establish a routine, avoid stretchy pants, and put on a show or podcast. Some of the advice was more extreme: Get a dog.

To be clear: this “quarantine” is simply out of an abundance of caution by my employer. No federal, state, or local governments had implemented rules for people returning from Japan at the time of my return. Still, it left my roommate wondering “what am I supposed to do if you DO have the virus?!”

Here’s my plan to survive four more days of exile:

Establish a workspace.

Graham Rapier / Business InsiderWelcome to my small, overpriced, Brooklyn apartment.

My desk at work is chaotic. But it’s dedicated to one thing: work. It has two monitors, a standing desk, and a nice comfortable chair.

At home all I have is this chair, so I commandeered the kitchen table (sorry again, roommate). Luckily, there’s more natural light here than at work in Lower Manhattan, and the Wi-Fi might even be faster. Still, its mere feet from my bed and other distractions.

Go outside.

Graham Rapier / Business Inisder

The weather has been beautiful lately, which bodes well for my mental health. The longer days don’t hurt either. During lunchtime the first day I took a quick stroll to the park and hung out with some ducks. I’m not saying they’re better listeners than my coworkers, but they were good company.

Going outside BEFORE starting to write for the day is going to be more difficult. It sounds great in theory, but cold is cold, and pants are harder to put on when I’m not actually going anywhere.


Graham Rapier / Business InsiderThese snacks say more about my life than I should probably put on the internet.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but I realised that in previous iterations of working from home that my pantry was not prepared. So on Sunday, I went to town at my local Stop and Shop and got breakfast foods, fancy coffee, snacks, and more. I also had some homemade soup on hand from wisdom teeth surgery – but that’s for a very different blog post

Distractions — but the good kind


As monotonous (or loud: looking at you Jim Cramer) as the CNBC anchors can be sometimes, I wanted to have the headlines and stock tickers crossing in lieu of my usual second monitor and TweetDeck. When I really needed to focus – and drown out the construction noises from my neighbours – my all-but-noise-cancelling headphones came in handy (I also highly recommend this “minimalism” Spotify playlist.)

Will this work?

Graham Rapier / Business InsiderA total distraction or welcome companionship? Only time will tell.

My best guess is no. As I file this story from my second day of working from home, things are looking bleak. If it hadn’t been for a scoop I was chasing yesterday, motivation would have been fleeting. I’ll be filing a second dispatch after the full week is up. What else am I missing? Let me know at [email protected]

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