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When other professionals complain about their daily commute, I get a glazed look in my eyes – or so my friends tell me. There’s a good reason for this. My daily commute takes all of 30 seconds – the time it takes to travel from my bedroom upstairs to the study downstairs. This has been my routine for nearly two decades now. And as someone who has been working from home (WFH, to give its scientific name), here’s my advice to those forced to do so now.
Around 70 per cent of the world’s population (a figure I plucked out of thin air to make a point) has been driven indoors by the coronavirus. And it is important to know WFH etiquette.
First, the clothes. If you wear trousers, you are doing it wrong. Ditto with shirts. Shorts and T-shirts are what it takes. I work at a table, or on a recliner, occasionally on a rocking chair I picked up in Dubai, sometimes leaning against the bedstead. And you will seldom – OK, never – see me in a three-piece suit in any of those places. But that’s just me.
Then, facial hair. Some of us like it, some of us don’t; some of us have wives who hate it and some of us … you get the idea. I try not to shave for as long as possible, thus saving on water, shaving cream, wear and tear on the razor and the electricity for the light above the sink. I calculate that if I don’t shave for 3,472 days in a row, I would have saved enough water for a lemonade or electricity to keep the bedside lamp going for 32 minutes. But I will never get the chance to find out because my wife can’t stand my facial hair and might give me a shave while I sleep. Can’t take a chance.
The coronavirus has brought in new rules. Handwash is fine, of course, but to keep away from facial touching is difficult. Just the thought automatically draws my hand to the face. In fact, just hang on while I take a face-touching break (note to myself: must show greater control).
You’ve got to be wary of advice from social media. It is not necessary to boil your spouse in hot water before you speak to them. Doctors are unanimous on this point. Nor is it recommended that you squirt sanitiser from a plastic gun into the eyes of visitors before you ask what they have come for. And it is not true that scientists are working on a force field that will keep everybody at least six feet away from you. Also…
Ah! there’s the bell. It’s time for my handwash.