Nikki Hahn is the Director of Development and Strategic Initiatives for a non-profit that helps women and minority business owners. She is quarantining at her home in New York with her husband and four children.
Thank you for your openness and honesty, Nikki! We hope that the craziness of this time calms down soon and you can get back to your usual routine!
Nikki Hahn began working from home in mid-March, just one week after her four children began doing e-learning. She was commuting a few miles to an office, but now she walks a few yards to her desk.
e-learning places a burden on women
Hahn read a Wall Street Journal article recently about how “remote working and e-learning have set women back in the workplace at least a decade.” as women are now assuming more responsibilities than ever before. Unfortunately, Nikki feels this has been the case for her. She now juggles her full-time job with household chores and e-learning for her two youngest. Since she does “90% of the e-learning” with her younger children, she couldn’t continue doing that, her own work, and making three meals a day for a family of six without making a few changes in their routine.
A couple weeks in, Nikki explained to her two youngest, “Whatever you get done is great, but I can’t do all my meetings and all my work and make sure you’re getting on the Zooms.” Nikki doing it, saying “It’s terrible, but I couldn’t do it all.” One of Nikki’s children has a chronic illness and is immunocompromised, so she couldn’t hire anyone to help with any of her other responsibilities. As a result, the family lowered expectations for productivity during the height of the pandemic.
Nikki runs the house from her kitchen office
While Nikki does not have a private office, she does have a built-in desk in her kitchen. She explains that it is “good for working from home once in a while, but not good for the long-term. The pantry door is right behind me, so people [on video calls] would see my kids walking in and out of there all day.” During this time, Nikki coordinated things from her makeshift workspace in the kitchen. Her older daughters did their school work in their bedrooms until dinnertime. And her younger children worked on their e-learning at the kitchen island so she could support them.
Now that quarantine is slowly letting up in New York, she reminds her children, especially her immunocompromised daughter, that it’s “dangerous for everyone, and we need to be careful. Every night I cross my fingers and hope it’ll be okay.” Fortunately, New York’s Coronavirus case counts have decreased. And she and her husband have hired someone to help clean the house. The family stays outside to minimize exposure risk during that time. This has helped to lift some responsibility off Nikki’s shoulders. She still worries that the current situation is not sustainable. “I can’t do e-learning full time and work full time,” she says.
A hybrid back-to-work and school plan
Nikki and the CEO are the top two people at her company, so they’re “in charge of making the return to work plan.” Her boss does not love remote work, but both agree they’ll push the return to work date back until things are safer. Nikki says employees with children, “could come into the office when their kids are at school and work from home when the kids are home.” Fortunately, she does not have a long commute, so she can be flexible.
In the meantime, Nikki has been enjoying “lots of bike riding and walks” with her family. The pandemic has taught her to “embrace the unknown.” Nikki is a big planner and likes to know what’s going to happen. She says, “I find comfort in knowing I’m not the only one experiencing this pandemic.” She emphasizes the importance of not judging others, saying, “Everyone has to do what works for them.”
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