Here’s What Essential Workers Want People Who Work From Home to Understand
I asked essential workers to share what they’re going through
Earlier this week, I asked essential workers who follow me on Instagram to share anything they wished us work-from-homers would understand or recognize about the situation they’re in. I have just under 5,000 Instagram followers, and this question inspired dozens of responses, representing a diverse spread of professions. I heard from baristas and nannies, cooks and dishwashers, EMTs and primary school teachers. Each response offered a bracing account of worker exploitation, exhaustion, and trauma set against a backdrop of customer entitlement. As I read through them, I knew I had to write a piece highlighting the many important messages these workers had to share.
There are so many people working tirelessly right now in incredibly dangerous settings, making it possible for the rest of us to keep our homes well-stocked with essential goods, electronics, clothing, and food. While many toil away in relative safety (and, yes, isolation and boredom), this underpaid class of people are facing short-staffed work shifts, grouchy customers who refuse to mask up, demanding managers who are at their wits’ end and taking it out on those below them and, of course, the pervasive dread that comes from near-constant exposure to the coronavirus.
Here are just some of the messages I received from essential workers, grouped loosely into overarching themes. These responses also offer insights into steps that you can take, as a work-from-homer, to lighten the load of the essential workers around you.
Sick employees are being forced to work
When we are sick, we are pressured to still come in and work because we are so behind.
If you have gone into a store, ordered takeout, or visited a gym or salon anytime in the past month, there’s a good chance you were served by someone sick with the coronavirus. I heard from many, many people that employers simply are not taking quarantine policies (or the health of their staff) seriously. And because so many workplaces are short-staffed (due to employees getting sick with Covid-19), many workers are expected to come in no matter…