Why I am Working Remotely Still in 2022 & why it works so well.

remote work COVID
photo of Erika as seen through an office building window, wearing a mask, thumbs up
us
photo depicts Rachael (left) and Erika, smiling together, outside of a house

The main reason I’m working 100% remotely is my wife’s health.

This will get personal, so please skip this post if that makes you uncomfortable. Rachael and I both live fairly public lives, and this is all public knowledge that I’m just compiling anew here for the purpose of clarifying and expanding on the question of why I cannot, for example, gather with a group in a shared indoor space these days.

Rachael has some allergies.

When I say “Rachael has allergies,” I mean that Rachael is allergic to: gluten (Celiac Disease), corn, rice, dairy, bananas (anaphylactic reaction), and even sunshine itself, which gives a rash after a few minutes out in it uncovered. She has even had an anaphylactic reaction to a virus (who knew that was a thing?), and to a vaccine, athough she did not react to the Covid vaccine. Most of her medications need to be compounded if there is not a natural alternative to the drug, because she is allergic to most pill fillers. Her allergies make all of her healthcare complicated, because she cannot be given most meds.

Rachael has dysautonomia.

Dysautonomia is basically a broad diagnosis that includes many things, such as POTS. It has to do with one’s autonomic nervous system. In Rachael’s case, all the autonomic functions tend towards being too slow. For example, left to its own, her heart will only beat about 30-ish times per minute. That was easily addressed with a pacemaker, the presence of which helps me sleep a little better. But there is no comparable device for most of the other “too slow” problems. For blood pressure “too slow” to keep her conscious? She wears a ridiculous amount of compression, up to her waist. Digestion “too slow” resulting in malnutrition? She takes more supplements than a body builder, in addition to consuming a very natural diet. Eyeballs “too slow” to work right? She had eyeball surgery at Mayo Clinic a few years ago, and she wears these $1000 glasses that only a few labs in the country can even make for her due to all the prisms in the lenses. We do what we can. Her dysautonomia is kind of a big deal.

COVID would be really bad for Rachael.

For many more reasons than I’ve listed here, for brevity, such an infection could kill her. Oh, fun fact. Have you heard of so-called Long-COVID? It’s basically POTS (1, 2) which Rachael already has. Rachael has POTS with bradycardia, hence the pacemaker. She really cannot risk getting Covid, which means that I cannot risk it either. We have been fortunate that between delivery services and some good friends, and access to some healthcare, we’ve been able to keep Rachael safe to date. I want to keep it that way.

Neither of us has gone anywhere since March 2020

We are not paranoid or irrational. As of summer 2022, Rachael’s doctor continues to urge her to remain as cautious as we have been. We have gone to a handful of outdoor places, a few times, close to home (as we may never use a public restroom again), where we can do something outdoors, or see another human, even while N95-masked and truly distant. And Rachael’s church work is now hybrid, involving some in-person meetings that are distanced and masked.

Yes, we both have turned our worlds upside down to protect Rachael’s health.

I would do anything to keep my family safe. That is what we are doing. We know one other family who has been living with as much restrictions as we have. In that household, someone has had a bone marrow transplant and cannot acquire immunity to anything at all.

Rachael and I both have more than full time work obligations in the world, and we have managed to meet all expectations of us with remote work. I teach one undergrad class/semester, do some consulting, some graphics, media and web development work, and I’m a full time PhD candidate and researcher, with a 20 hours/week research assistantship. Rachael presents at conferences, writes, teaches one graduate class/semester, is a full time pastor, and is becoming a certified spiritual director. We have done all of this 100% remotely, until April 2022 when Rachael’s church began hybrid services, and we’re both pretty good at what we do.

September 2021 Backyard Haircuts!

Of course we’re not going in to a salon for the forseeable future. Our 2022 haircuts are done in the backyard too (altho Rachael has been cutting both of our hair lately).

cutting hair in the backyard
photo depicts Erika (right) holding shears and Rachael wearing a cape, ready for backyard haircuts
Kimberly visit2
photo depicts my superstar friend Kimberly (left/back) and me/Erika, six feet apart, not facing each other, outside, masked, July 29, 2021. The photo is smokey due to the wildfires .

Have we seen anybody other than each other since March 2020?

We have mostly only met up with a few folks, of course not up close, not indoors, not in a group, etc. For example, Erika met up with Kimberly during summer 2021. We also have had a few friends over to our backyard, weather-permitting, masked, distanced, and exclusively outdoors. Before March 2020, we loved saying that our little backyard sanctuary was open to friends any time. We have an inground, heated pool, and friends could drop by and we’d so gladly share. Alas, it’s mostly just for us these days, but it has been nice to see the handful of friends who have been able to safely visit with us. And starting in April 2022, Rachael’s church services have been hybrid, with some limited in-person gatherins for her, during which she wears her N-95 mask and tries to stay safe.

I do see a lot of these two tho.

And Morgan the Dog and Soapy the cat are not best friends. For the summer 2022, Morgan the Dog will be on the road with us in The Morgan Express. Soapy will be residing with a friend.

but it is called dogbed
photo depicts Morgan the dog in the foreground, looking upset about Soapy the cat being in his dog bed. Text in speech bubble reads: But it is called DOG BED.
ths shuttle bus
photo depicts a cartoonized version of our shuttle bus, a Chevy Express 3500 cutaway

Am I going to work remotely forever?

I hope not, because I miss people. but I worked remotely for the 2021-2022 academic year, and plan to continue that with the fall 2022. I will update this post after that span of time based on the latest information. My hope is that with booster shots and, I don’t know, people making better choices (?), sharing indoor space with others can become safer, and Rachael won’t be at so much risk, necessitating our present day, and rather extreme, form of isolation.

Fun fact: In Summer 2022, Rachael and Erika are travelling around the country in a shuttle bus we have converted into a tiny home/RV. Rachael has a sabbatical in summer 2022, and we are both travelling in the bus during that time. I will work from the road, and she will sabbaticalize. If you’re interested in checking it out, we have a small social media channel where we share about that project: it’s called The Morgan Express.

Why does remote work go so well for me?

Well, doing things well is exceedingly important to me. I love it that anyone who works with me can have confidence that what we will produce will be quality work. Also, I have been teaching online for 18 years, so I’ve learned through those thousands of relationships with students, and working through various crises together, how to effectively communicate with people from a remote work setting. That’s why I was able to write up those tutorials about teaching online, back in March 2020, such as this one for The Society Pages, some of which went low key viral and made me some new friends around the country, and why my higher ed consulting work has quadrupled in the past two years. Mostly, I’m really grateful that the stars aligned such that I can meet all of my obligations, and continue to do all of my own work, remotely through 2022. Everything is going well, and I chalk it up to the fact that when working from home, I can limit distrations and really focus on tasks. I’m infinitely more productive in my home office than when I was working while surrounded by the distractions of everyone else. But of course I miss seeing people in person, and having the chance to talk research, etc.

morgan loves mommy
photo depicts Morgan the Dog in our backyard, climbing on the hammock, on Rachael, smiling. Speech text above him reads: I heart mommy.

I think I’ll conclude here for now.

Thanks for reading. I welcome your comments, questions, thoughts, or reactions, either in the comments below or by email. And I appreciate your understanding.

I last updated this post on May 21, 2022. -Erika

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About Erika Sanborne

Erika Sanborne has been producing media since 2014, specializing in corporate and higher ed video explainers, portraiture, green screen videography, and other digital media productions. Her latest passion in graphics is data visualization.

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