Anyone who follows me here on the blog or on social media knows that I have been working from home for 13 years. For 10 of those, I’ve had a focus on assisting other businesses with online technology. Unlike so many of you, the current pandemic situation did not suddenly throw me into an unfamiliar work from home situation. That does not mean Covid-19 hasn’t had an effect on my business. The truth is, the results are rather interesting. Here’s my experience with the working from home flip-side in the Covid-19 shutdown.
Increase in projects.
While many of my clients are also work from home business owners, many of them have schedules that include things like meeting with clients, attending court and giving live presentations. During this pandemic, they are not able to do many of these things. This has given them an opportunity to work on projects they have put on back burners or pivot their business in such a way that embraces what could be our ‘new normal’. This has caused an issue I’ve never had a problem with before…more projects than available time in my schedule. Some of my services, like website creation, have a waiting list that stretches into summer.
An uptick in information requests.
The words ‘online technology’ or ‘working from home’ are being searched in staggering numbers on the search engines. As a result, I am receiving large amounts of email requesting information. It has always been my policy to freely answer as many requests for information as possible, but these days it’s impossible to answer them all.
More interest in online tech.
Until recently, many businesses didn’t really see the point in adopting online technology for things like file storage, calendaring, remote work options and communication. With the pandemic, they have now been forced to take them seriously. Many have no clue where to start or what options to choose. I’ve offered a list of online tech that I use for almost a year now for free, but I’m seeing a marked increase in business people reaching out to me for advice. Again, something that in the past I did easily but now I’m finding it difficult to juggle with my own responsibilities.
A jump in individuals looking to start their own home-based businesses.
Signups for my online course, Work from Home as a Virtual Assistant have jumped significantly. The increase in students includes an increase in questions in need of answers. It also means more interest in being mentored or signing up for home business coaching.
Rising stress levels.
Normally, it is not a problem to wear all of these different but connected hats. Thirteen years of experience normally makes keeping a schedule that balances client work with running my own business a breeze. But we aren’t in normal times. Although working from home isn’t anything new for me, being quarantined at home is. Not being able to jump in my car and go pick up groceries, office supplies or a quick coffee during my lunch break or after work isn’t an option anymore. What used to be a simple task of a quick trip to the grocery store now must be planned out in an attempt to get everything we need to minimize the number of times a family member has to stand in line and possibly expose themselves to the virus. Meeting friends for coffee or lunch on the weekends now has to be done via Zoom And Zoom? Even those of us that have been using this type of communication are learning that Zoom fatigue is a very real thing. The longer we are locked down, the more the stress level rises. Yes, even for people like me who run their own businesses from home.
Some of us who have been lucky enough to have work from home businesses doing well are experiencing something new. If our income hasn’t decreased, or has increased, we are starting to feel a growing sense of guilt. The guilt may be because we are ok financially when friends and loved ones are not. It may be because even though we are ok financially, we’re still feeling overwhelmed by the situation. We know we are some of the lucky ones. It feels wrong somehow to feel bad, sad or otherwise anxious.
I’ve shared this flip-side view of how the current Coronavirus situation has impacted my business because I think it’s important. Why? First, to show that even in a pandemic there are opportunities for growth. If you are thinking about starting your own business or pivoting into an area that is more suited for the current situation it might be the perfect time. Second, it is easy to forget that we are in a global situation that none of us have experienced before. That means we are all dealing with changes and anxiety, even if we haven’t been furloughed, lost our income or closed our businesses. Extending kindness and understanding to others has never been more important.