After attending few zoom meetings, online classes and webinars, I finally realize the effect of this working from home shenanigans to social roles, specifically in (some) families.
Yes, your kids could potentially jeopardize your “image” as a cool manager, for verbally slandering you in the background of your weekly meetings, but it can also give you a role boost as a loving-father-cool-manager-whom-seem-to-keep-your-sanity-intact-in-times-like-this (or is it?).
Though I’m usually bad at articulating my thoughts, I’ll try my best this time. Please, stay with me.
Though human consist of complex dimensions and roles that comes with it, everyone has a specific role in a specific social settings. Before WFH, the line is pretty clear: at the office, your main role as an employee within a somewhat professional settings, you are expected to do your responsibilities and get your work done. You are bounded by the company rules’ professionally, and by the social norms around the office on how you should do and maintain your professional relationship with your co-workers.
When you’re home, your main role switched from an employee to a family member. You could be a parent, a spouse, a child, or all of them, and you are expected to show your love and take care of your family at home. You are bounded by your family rules on who are expected to do what based on the specific roles.
For example, in an “ordinary family”, fathers have functional roles such as fulfilling economic necessities and establishing the family’s basic rules. While mothers are expected to fulfill the emotional roles such as taking care of the family members. So, if someone is acting outside of their expected role in a specific social setting, it will be considered as, “odd”.
But before y̶o̶u̶ ̶c̶o̶m̶e̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶m̶e̶ I continue to elaborate my point,
I am aware that the roles mentioned are not necessarily still relevant in some social settings.
There, have the disclaimer.
But since WFH happens, you do almost everything at home. Your professional and domestic (and many other) roles are collided when you are forced to perform (at least) 2 different roles in 1 same spatial setting, simultaneously.
So what? We do that everyday, with or without WFH right?
I would be more than happy if I can explain this matter from private and public sphere POV, but I am not Habermas.
So, just, take me, if you want, yeah?
Personally, what I take from WFH is the chance to peek on other people’s “backstage”. The chance to see the collision of many roles. The chance to develop an understanding of how we are all struggling.
Sure, your co-worker-who-can’t-seem-to-tell-when-the-working-hours-is might catch up with your emails at questionable hours. But, now you know that their late response could come from them who always put their family first, trying to put their kids to sleep, or feed their kids.
ALTHOUGH I don’t justify neglecting each of your role (as in, don’t be an asshole to your co-worker and don’t leave your children unattended for any reason), I’m pointing out how it could help us to understand the complexity of our roles in society, that got even more complicated as the separation of each roles become thinner (or maybe close to none) at times like this. It helps to understand where a certain response coming from, though it doesn’t justify it (though again, it depends on the social norms and solidarity within a community).
WFH makes it easier for working parents to spend more time with their children (though I’m sure, this is not always a good thing, but pessimistic-borderline-cynic opinion aside), because they usually come home when their kids are already asleep and they need to go to work at the same time as their kids getting ready for school.
WFH can bring both the intimacy and the chaos of having all family members at the same place at the same time juggling to perform their roles simultaneously, the best they could.
I can also continue this argument by talking about capitalistic work ethic, but I don’t have enough dignity left to be scrutinize by my colleagues on how misleading my understanding about the theories are. So let’s wrap it up, shall we?
Maybe WFH can finally show how your killer-evil-lecturer-from-hell-who-dismiss-your-class-after-being-way-too-frustrated-to-make-you-understand-why-1998-was-a-living-hell used to be a sweet-romantic-happy-go-lucky person before their family left them (for one reason and another).
Maybe WFH is trying to give us a chance to peek on each other’s “backstage” to realize that: we are all the same. We are just p̶̶̶h̶̶̶o̶̶̶n̶̶̶i̶̶̶e̶̶̶s̶̶̶ ̶̶̶w̶̶̶h̶̶̶o̶̶̶ ̶̶̶t̶̶̶r̶̶̶y̶̶̶ ̶̶̶t̶̶̶o̶̶̶ ̶̶̶b̶̶̶e̶̶̶ ̶̶̶s̶̶̶e̶̶̶e̶̶̶n̶̶̶ ̶a̶̶̶s̶ ̶s̶o̶m̶e̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶b̶̶̶e̶̶̶t̶̶̶t̶̶̶e̶̶̶r̶̶̶ ̶̶̶t̶̶̶h̶̶̶a̶̶̶n̶̶̶ ̶̶̶w̶̶̶h̶̶̶a̶̶̶t̶̶̶ ̶̶̶w̶̶̶e̶̶̶ ̶̶̶r̶̶̶e̶̶̶a̶̶̶l̶̶̶l̶̶̶y̶̶̶ ̶̶̶a̶̶̶r̶̶̶e̶̶̶ human after all.