Dr. Alan Hilfer, director of psychology at Maimonides Medical Center in New York, says it’s normal to struggle with working from home. He says it “has its own set of difficulties” that people who don’t do it often aren’t always aware of.
“There are many more distractions than working in an office,” he says. “Even people who do it on a regular basis find it much harder to structure and discipline their time.”
Hilfer, who lives in Brooklyn and works in a hospital in Manhattan, knows the distractions firsthand. He was working at home on Thursday to avoid the difficult commute in the storm’s aftermath. But he kept getting distracted by Sandy updates on TV, projects he needed to get done around the house and his wife asking questions about what she should get from the supermarket.
“I had a whole list of things this morning I intended to do working from home, and I got about half of them done,” he says.
With some school districts cancelling classes for the week, children have become the biggest distraction for stranded employees who were working from home.
Brooklyn resident Deanna Zammit, a content director at media company Digiday, says she’s grateful that her home and family were unscathed after Sandy. But she found herself overwhelmed when she had to work from home — and watch her son — Monday and Tuesday while her husband was away on a work trip.
“I’ve had to juggle taking care of a very energetic five-year old — who only wants to jump on the couch — and trying to get as much work done as possible under the situation,” she says.
On Wednesday, with the added pressure of Halloween festivities, she gave up and took the day off. But on Thursday, she drove three hours to her parent’s home in Westhampton, N.Y., so that she could finally get some work done at home.