I have to admit that after well over a decade as a stay-home parent, I get to watch others adjust to life as stay-home people. I’ll resist the temptation to rehearse the snide comments or glazed looks that sometimes came when I described spending my time at home. Suffice to share “What do you do all day? Don’t you get bored?” The fact that I was retired let some to run with the well-worn trope about retirees having time on their hands. That I was a golfer just offered another log to the fire.

Many are now realizing that being at home all day, and having to work, doesn’t offer a life of milk and honey. It can be taxing. If you’re in a household where everyone is trying to get back to their out-of-home schedules, you’ll also be seeing how that doesn’t work out well, often because the adjustment needs a lot of initial frustrations. The Internet or phone systems may not be as robust. The activity cannot be replicated at home (think gym and you may see that those who were rats there are scrabbling around trying to figure out where to stretch and what to lift, and if their imaginations aren’t good, woe be to them). They’re competing for space where it’s already been formed into different shapes. My wife is dealing with colleagues who don’t really have a home office and now have to find a good environment in which to work for weeks, rather than the odd hours in what was previously their private time.

So much of modern life was built around going to and fro, that without that many are rootless, in an odd way, where they should have put down strong roots. It’s funny to see people réalise that they had often spent time escaping their homes.

Of course, pre-COVID19 days were different, not least because most people did not spend most of their days at home and I was the odd one out, or odd few. I’m not snickering, but know that many will find it hard to take the necessary steps and to rebore how they see what they do, but more importantly how they see themselves. Many people presented themselves as their jobs and their workplaces, but now that doesn’t work, not least because few get to see you in those contexts. Odd times, yes.

Finally, people are finding it odd that they seem to be feeling fatigued working from home. There are many reasons for that, one of which is working more intensely for long periods (often without unwanted interruptions). Many people did not have the habit of forcing themselves to take breaks, but that’s one of those necessities when working at home. I often find my productivity to be really high so I get done with things much sooner than expected. I have accepted that this gives me more time to just chill and I take it. I suspect many have not reached for the chill pills, in part because they are still in ‘I’m at work’ mode and think it’s somehow not allowed. I personally think work-at-home schedules should be shorter, say 8.30-3, with a good few breaks in-between. Now, it’s clearly harder to do that when working with teams and maybe over different time zones, but it also forces people to do what I have often seen not done–negotiating clearly your work time preferences. People are often so taken with the idea that their not working full pelt for long hours will be seen negatively, which goes to how poorly people measure productivity rather than product.

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Food security is and will be a complicated story to tell as the pandemic continues. At its most obvious, countries will do whatever they feel is right to secure their own products, and the free flow of food in trade will diminish. Added to that, restrictions on movement and breaks of blockages in the supply chains will cause disruptions in food distribution. We’ve seen that eg in problems getting agriculture harvested (UK) and maintaining industrial processes (eg US meat companies closing). While most countries have closed their borders to some degree to movement of people, cargo, including food is generally still moving in and out.

Jamaica is dealing with a lot of agricultural surpluses as hotels have closed and many farmers struggle for other markets, so eggs fruit and veg, are in abundance and the problems are to find outlets for those (some bought and donated to needy areas, agricultural agencies now arranging pickup points, farmers markets popping up). We’re seeing innovation with food ‘delivery’ and that’s likely to continue, at least in the near term. So, as noted previously, people are finding new outlets for food purchases and offerings, and different ways of food getting to them, whether simple deliveries, or packaged offerings, etc. In our immediate area, our MP has been buying agricultural surplus to distribute to vulnerable inner city communities, but has now widened that to make such goods available to those who can pay, parish-wide, using an idea I’ve floated of creating some bigger ad-hoc farmers markets.

We’ll see how that goes tomorrow.

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Are people feeling antsy about being confined to their homes? Yes. Is that spilling over? Yes, in the home and in their limited interactions outside. We’ve not seen too much of that in Jamaica, but it’s been noted elsewhere, and could include communities deciding to protect themselves by barring movements of people to their areas, especially for recreation purposed.

The fractiousness isn’t a town/country divide but more about communities where stay-home plays out differently—many people aren’t getting wages daily/weekly vs those who are salaried and stil getting paid or can work at home and get paid or are deemed essential and can do their jobs/get paid. But the tussle is more about ‘getting your chance’ to buy vs amongst people for no apparent reason. It’s something to watch.