Home Workers

Gloves are back in style. Well, at least they’re popular. I’m in Washington State where we’re effectively on lockdown as of about 24 hours from when I post this. Lock down. Stay home. Try to get work done. Except for the lockdown part, that’s typical for workers in the Gig Economy. Work from home, because it is cheaper. Only go out when it is necessary with a few rare trips for shopping and possible socializing. Social distancing is built in. For those who live alone and stay home, even the gloves aren’t as necessary. The Gig Economy can be a facade to hide partly-employed people, but those people have been developing adaptation skills that others can learn from.

People with paycheck jobs, kids in school, and parents that need support are finding themselves crowded into a house. If they’re lucky, they ‘get to’ work from home and continue to collect paychecks. Prior to a lockdown they were performing several roles in series (get up, get the kids off to school, get themselves off to work, get home, take care of the kids, take care of the house – and along the way take care of the parents, possibly by paying for their care.) During a lockdown all of those roles happen simultaneously without recess or relief. They’re employees, parents, guardians, teachers, cooks, cleaners, and whatever else needs to be done. Ouch. They may not be doing much binge-watching.

Some members of the Gig Economy have been living that life for a long time. I’m no longer one of them, and when I was, the only person I had to take care of was me. Whew. Granted, I was working seven days a week with most days being 10-12 hour days, so it wasn’t casual, but there was no one else relying on me, either. Good. I barely got by. Those who worked those roles simultaneously successfully may have lessons to teach that they take for granted. Give them a call. Besides, we should all be keeping in touch (not physically) with others anyway.

Despite what’s in the news, I don’t know anyone who is bored. There’s more than enough to do, even if it is simply cleaning every surface in the house, or de-cluttering, or finally finishing that inevitable myriad of projects every homeowner has.

One of these days I’ll get around to replacing that electrical outlet. After thirteen years in this house I finally and accidentally found a major gap in the weatherstripping. That might get fixed, too.

In the meantime, I’m dealing with the disruptions in real estate. (Regulatory required disclosure: I am a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Koetje on Whidbey Island. See below for changes there.) Typically, spring is the time for listings to arise. More buyers arrive. Office life and showing houses get busy.

Rather than interest fading, many people are suddenly inspired to move to remote areas, like islands. Rural Distancing is real. So many people have temporarily moved to my neighborhood that I curtailed my walk. Normally, a workday in March would be quiet with hardly anyone outside. I only saw one person I know, and he turned back for home too. I didn’t need my gloves and mask, but it felt good to bring them along. I think I’ll replace walks with karate workouts.

The lockdown’s timing feels like a collision of coincidences. Just as interest in real estate escalates, we can’t show houses. It makes sense. So it goes. At the same time, my office is being moved. Fortunately, I emptied it yesterday. Unfortunately, the new place isn’t ready; so I’m making trips out to the stuff stacked in the pack of my pickup. Oh yeah, and they’re changing the name of the company. And there are new procedures and policies. OK. It’s all good. Eep.

We’re about a month from when I was scheduled to give the next in a series of talks at some local libraries about real estate and affordability trends on Whidbey Island. Ironically, the topic was going to be about why we shouldn’t assume everything will stay the same; basically reasons to not extrapolate current trends. The talk has gone from hypothetical to real. The talk may also be going from on-site to online. Stay tuned for that, too.

At the same time, I hope to publish my next photo series within days. (Thanks to Fine Balance Imaging doing some final formatting. Stay tuned.) Something new to add to the libraries’ collections.

In addition to that book, I’m working on three others. I’ll get some extra time to work on them, but this is not a sabbatical. They’ll fit in because I’ll spend less time driving around. I’m not sure how I’ll continue the work on the next photo book. They are based on twelve month studies of specific sites, Twelve Months at Deception Pass, for example. Can I get in at least one day at the next site next month? No one knows.

As if my books aren’t enough, others are taking this time to finish theirs. Congratulations! And some want my help. Happy to help, but let’s not assume that’s the only thing going on. As for the WritingOnWhidbeyIsland.com podcast, well, we’ll find a way to make that happen. Right, Don?

Others are asking for my services, too. Consulting is one of my joys too rarely exercised. I’ll find the time. Fortunately, that’s work that can be done online, too.

I list those, partly as a reminder to myself, but also as an example of the skills necessary to survive the Gig Economy. Others have a different set and suite to offer.

I’m settled back into my IKEA chair, the one I lived in for years, laptop in lap, typing my way through the day. Dancing along the borders of the Gig Economy. I know millions of others who are in a similar but not the same dance. We don’t know how long this will last or how we’ll get through, but I know there are people out there who are practiced at working from home, getting by on what they can make, and adapting as necessary. One benefit for those working at home alone: no need for gloves or masks – until it is time to go for a walk, maybe.

About Tom Trimbath

real estate broker / consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: https://trimbathcreative.net/about/ and at my amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0035XVXAA
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1 Response to Home Workers

  1. Erin W says:

    In case you or anyone you know has too much time on hands and can make their way around a Google sheet and Slack, check out mask-match. It could save lives. After learning today my income is cut to 25% of former, with a few $10/hr jobs I can pull from a second source, I’m okay for April but after that who knows. I might as well swim and spend my time doing something that can help the folks my heart aches for right now, healthcare workers on frontlines. But the woods are glorious right now. Life seems to be celebrating fewer humans on the roads, in the air, and on the water.

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