Staying Home with Hyro
To no surprise, almost half the world’s population is now under coronavirus lockdown. The globe, it would seem, has grinded to a complete halt. Never in history have more people stayed at home at the same time.
Like everyone else, our team at Hyro is adapting to the new normal, endeavoring on all fronts to work even harder during this unprecedented moment in time. A moment that begs of us to take a step back and do things a little differently. To ask each other: “how are you doing?” To inject a desperately needed dose of humanity into everything we do.
How are we doing?
I interviewed five members of the Hyro team to get a sense of what they’re going through. What have they learned so far from this experience? What do they miss most about the world outside? What are they making for lunch today?
Here’s what they had to say:
Rotem, Head of Design and UX
Z: Hey, Rotem! How’s working from home?
R: Hey, Not bad! As we’re speaking, Michael, my toddler, is taking a nap, so I scheduled five more meetings after this. I try to get as much done while he’s asleep and maybe even grab some lunch along the way. It’s the best time to do it.
Z: So, is it safe to say your schedule revolves around his?
R: Well… Sort of… I also married really well. I have an incredible and supportive husband who takes care of him a lot of the time.
Z: I hear you. So what do you miss most about the world outside?
R: There’s actually something really nice about being home with my family all day. I had way too much on my plate before this happened, and to be honest, I wasn’t too sad to see most of it go.
There’s something incredible about everything slowing down all of a sudden. Just shutting down.
I do miss seeing my family and my friends and just being able to go wherever I want. I miss Liza, Michael’s day-care teacher. I mean, just the fact that we have to take care of him 24/7 isn’t easy.
I spoke with a psychologist-friend of mine who told me that this balancing act between being the best I can be at work and being the best mother I can be at home, was always a challenge of mine and now it’s at this inflection point where the boundaries between work and home are non-existent.
Z: As a parent, I can really empathize with that. I hear about all these people using this time to develop hobbies or finish books, and I’m kind of jealous.
R: Totally. That’s something I really miss as well — FREE TIME.
Z: So no Zoom-yoga for you?
R: Well, actually, Michael and I had a Zoom music lesson this morning, which was awesome. I mean it wasn’t as effective as a real lesson, Michael basically tried chewing the screen the whole time, but it was better than nothing.
Z: Yeah, not ideal. So correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m getting the feeling you could hold out for a little longer?
R: What can I say, I’m a homebody!
David, Full Stack Engineer
Z: Hey, David! What’s up? How are you?
D: I’m Ok… These times are definitely challenging, but there are some bright sides.
Z: Tell me about them…
D: Well, for one thing, my boyfriend and I started cooking a whole lot more. Which we’re finding to be much healthier than all the take out we used to get, as well as much more fun.
Z: Definitely. What else?
D: I mean, staying home has its upsides. Unlike an office environment, if I’m feeling drained, I can just take a short break on the couch, recharge, and get back to work. But sadly, the bad outweighs the good here.
Z: How so? What do you miss most about the world outside?
D: I’m experiencing some severe cabin fever. Before this happened I would probably spend 80% of my time outside. So you can only imagine how strange it is for me to be home 24/7. It’s tough.
Z: It is.
D: A situation like this completely messes up your routine. So every day, I force myself to actually get dressed, as if I’m going to the office.
Z: No sweatpants.
D: No sweatpants. I put on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt at the very least. I also try to keep up my workout regimen via Zoom, which is another excellent reason to change clothes into my sportswear.
Having different outfits for different activities helps me break up the day into a routine again.
Z: That’s brilliant. So going back to cooking. How elaborate are you guys getting? Should I expect to see you on the next season of “Chef’s Table?”
D: I wouldn’t go that far, but we do try… I actually think my boyfriend’s whipping up something right now. Shall we go check it out?
D: (Brings his laptop to the kitchen) See, as we’re chatting, Tal is busy making some delicious pasta. Say hi, Tal!
Z: Nice to meet you! Wow, that looks great. What kind of sauce are you making?
T: Mushroom Rose.
D: We’ve made fancier things than that. We made some risotto the other day. Oh, and some green curry chicken!
Z: So other than honing into your cooking skills, is there anything else you feel you’re learning from this experience?
I feel that I finally learned how to actually work from home.
Nitsan, Product Manager
Z: Hello! Good to see you (digitally). How’s working from home?
N: Not too shabby actually. I really enjoy being in my place. In my zone. It’s comfy and I was able to create myself a really cool work-station.
Z: It looks comfy!
N: Yeah but it’s still hard. At some point, I realized that if I won’t force myself to take breaks, I’ll just find myself working non-stop. It’s just so easy to get sucked into it, so I try to be as aware as I can be and do other things.
Z: I know what you mean. I find myself really missing the office.
N: Same here. I miss being able to just turn to the person sitting next to me when I have a question. Or just being able to joke around with my teammates in person.
Z: Yeah, I miss that too.
N: On the other hand…
It sort of forces you to communicate more efficiently. It’s making me invest more time and thought in the updates I post on Slack. I want my messages to be as clear as possible because now I can’t just explain in person what I meant.
Z: Indeed. So, what do you miss most about the world outside?
N: I miss the beach. I miss that sense of freedom and endless space I get from being by the sea. I miss my family and my friends as well, of course.
But most of all, I miss hugs. I really love hugs.
Z: Me too.
Z: So what else did you discover? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far from this experience?
N: That everything’s fine. That you can find a way to get by no matter the situation.
Aaron, Head of Marketing
Z: Hey Aaron! How’s lockdown been for you so far?
A: So, quarantine is supposed to be this enlightening experience. An opportunity for people to pursue other aspirations, maybe develop hobbies they’ve neglected or always wanted to try out. I, unfortunately, don’t have any of those. Other than having more time to put in extra hours towards work, It’s been nothing short of exhaustingly boring.
Z: Have you guys finished moving in yet? Do you have a workstation set up?
A: We barely finished moving when this all exploded. I did not have a table to work at until recently, one that we had to sneak out and buy due to the restrictions on movement. We felt a little ashamed about it but realized we might not have another chance to do it. It was a pretty surreal experience. We had to knock on the door at the furniture store because it was technically supposed to be closed, and the salesperson first poked his head out looking around for cops before allowing us inside. The whole thing felt a little like a poorly produced spy thriller that literally no one would pay to watch. But we do now own a really nice table and I have my deluxe workstation. We also finally got our WI-FI which we’ve been waiting on for two weeks.
A: Thanks. And on top of all that goodness, they’re renovating the building.
So, occasionally I’ll be in a meeting and all of a sudden the builders will pull out an industrial jackhammer. It’ll sound like a shootout in the 1920s with Al Capone for about 2 hours. It literally sounds like those old rickety Tommy Guns are going off, in and around my ears.
Z: Wait, were you aware of this when you decided to take the place?
A: Of course, we were. That’s one of the many reasons we moved here — eventually, the building will be beautiful. We’re making the most of it. The neighbors all take turns asking the construction workers to give us a little break.
Z: Challenging, to say the least. But do you feel there’s any lesson you’re going to come out of this with?
A: I think what this has affirmed for me is that I’m an extremely social creature that thrives off of being around other people; I draw fuel from those around me. Also, it taught me that I want to have a hobby. I used to play drums. I don’t anymore.
I think that being able to use this time to improve upon something you love, is essential for your soul. It’s a bit cliché but the quote by Roethke is “in a dark time, the eye begins to see”, and I think that this situation is forcing us all to stare hard into the mirror.
Z: And what’s it like having your family be in New York right now?
A: It’s pretty terrifying. I had to force my mom to stop going to work. I threatened to call her boss and report fabricated criminal activity if she didn’t start working remotely.
Z: Must be hard.
A: Sure, a part of me definitely wishes that I was in New York with my family right now.
Z: What’s the first thing you’re going to do when this is all over?
A: I’ll fly to New York to see my parents and immediately upon my return to Tel Aviv I will host a huge party and have everybody hug each other. Hand sanitizers and masks will be banned.
Guy, Senior NLP Engineer
Z: Hey, Guy! How are you holding up?
G: Hey I’m OK, you caught me at a bit of an off day, but I’m fine.
Z: So you’ve actually been in self-quarantine for a while. How long has it been?
G: We got back from Austria on March 9th, and it’s now April 12th, so I’ve been basically stuck at home for over four weeks now.
Z: Oh, wow… And what would you say is the hardest part about it?
G: Not being able to see my family and friends. Uncharacteristically for a programmer, I’m a bit of an extrovert. I mean I can definitely dive into the work but I really need to take a break sometimes and just have fun. But more than anything else, I’m just really concerned.
Z: About the situation?
G: Yes. Unfortunately, I think things are going to get much worse before they get better again. I’m terrified of this affecting the people I love. My parents, my grandparents, everyone.
Z: I feel the same way. But I applaud you for channeling this anxiety into publishing what, in my opinion, are some of the clearest posts anywhere online about COVID-19 (Hebrew only, sorry folks).
G: I appreciate it. Thank god I have my girlfriend as a proofreader, or this would have never gotten the response it did. I really live and breathe this stuff. My Master’s degree revolved around the spread of viruses, so I’ve always had an interest in it.
Z: Speaking about learning. When this is all over, what lesson are you going to take with you moving forward?
G: Listen, I’m a person who suffers from acute FOMO, and I think there’s no better cure for that than being stuck at home for a month.
Z: So, do you think you’ll be able to handle your FOMO better?
G: When I was told I was going to have to go into quarantine, I literally thought I was going to die, and then I found out that I can do this…
I can stay at home.