Good point, it could have been much worse

Day 1 could have gone better, but we're adapting. And for some people this is deadly serious. Also, an invitation to comment for real, and 7 other things worth your time.

Update: We’re all working from home now. Just before I sent this, I saw the news that the governor of New York has ordered almost all businesses to have at least 75 percent of their employees work from home. I know we’ve been moving close to this, but to have it articulated like that is really quite something. (Link below.)


I’ve been “working from home” at least some of the time for quite a while, but if I’m being honest, the first day of Working From Home, the newsletter, was kind of rough.

It starts with how I made a big push for reader comments in the first edition—and later realized I hadn’t enabled comments correctly. That was 100% my fault, sorry!

As for the other thing that went wrong, I turn now to a transcript of my call with Apple Support (as well as I can remember) to explain:

Me: “Hi. Clumsiest move ever, I spilled my tea on my MacBook. Can you help?”

Apple guy: “What? How did you do that?”

Me: “Um, I was just drinking a cup of tea and it slipped.”

Apple guy: “Tea? Oh my God. I thought you said you spilled your pee.”

Thank you, Apple, for making me realize things could have been much worse, and also for making me laugh.

(In the end, despite my immediate panic, it wasn’t fatal. Plus, I was able to work on my wife’s computer in the meantime.)

Anyway, we’re back up and running, and I think I’ve also figured out how to turn on comments. We’re ready to start again.

But while I’m laughing at myself, I’m also well aware that the current circumstances—and specifically the idea of suddenly having to work from home—are very serious for a lot of people.


For example, I was writing back and forth with a reader named Jenifer Balink this week.

She runs a nonprofit counseling center that specializes in family violence called Kindred Place, and she explained what this is like from her perspective.

As a boss, she’s tried to plan for potential disasters — everything from power outages to mass shootings— but “no one, not one of us, could have prepared for this,” she wrote:

What's the protocol for having people transition from office work to home-based work, when they've never, ever worked from home?

How do you teach a dozen therapists to use Slack or Zoom or Microsoft Teams, when what they're trained to do is sit in a comfortable room, in comfortable seats, helping people work through their family relationships, face to face, one-on-one?

Later, she followed up with her real, underlying fear:

What if someone dies because I made a mistake, even though I’m trying my best and consulting my team, and my board, and the experts. What if someone dies as a result of decisions I make?

It seems dramatic, I know. But I can’t stop thinking about it.

That’s so different from my personal experience. Sure, I have some anxiety about the state of the world at the moment. Working 100% at home isn’t helping—without breaking it up by working in coffee shops or co-working spaces, or heading to NYC for meetings.

Yet, I currently have zero direct reports. (I’d like to change that, because I think I could make Understandably a better product with just a little help.) And that means that unlike Jenifer, or maybe unlike you, nobody outside my family is likely to suffer consequences if I screw up.

Now that I’ve got the comments working, I’d like to invite you to either email me (billmurphyjr@understandably.com), or share your comments about where this all falls for you. Specifically:

  • Are you someone who normally works from home, or are you doing so now as a special circumstance? (I’m very curious to know this, as it might drive the direction of the content here over the next few weeks.)

  • What’s the biggest challenge or concern you’re facing as a result? And are other people depending on you to get it right?

  • Finally, just because we all need a laugh or two: I’m sure we all have some funny stories: What’s the most amusing thing that’s happened because you’ve been working from home?

Comment on this post

7 other things worth your time

  • As mentioned above, in New York, the governor ordered today that almost all businesses in the state must have 75 percent of their employees working from home. (WCBS News 88)

  • Netflix is being asked to slow down streaming speeds in Europe, since so many people are working from home and there’s a fear of pressure on Internet bandwidth. (EW)

  • Amusing: Warren Buffett is working from home instead of his office in Omaha. Besides that concession, he says his only change is that he’s drinking more Coca-Cola. Buffett is 89, so maybe we can just consider this yet another way he’s an outlier. (CNBC)

  • You probably use Zoom (we all do now, right?). I was going to link to this amusing tweet about using a custom background to make it look as if you’re participating in meetings when you’re really somewhere else. But there are also some other fun custom backgrounds in the thread. (Twitter)

  • Finally: All the traffic congestion is gone. Here’s what we’re not missing on the highways, trains and busses. (The Washington Post, $)

  • My colleague Justin Bariso wrote a book called EQ: Applied, about emotional intelligence. Since we’re all working from home and we theoretically have more time, he’s giving it away for free in .pdf form. Here’s the link to his LinkedIn post announcing it.

  • This might be an old fad, but I still swear by a standing desk in my home office. Five long years ago, I wrote a review of some inexpensive options on Inc.com, for people who wanted to try them out cheaply. Might be useful now. (These days I use one that wasn’t available then: a $249 crank-up version from IKEA.)

Ideas and feedback actively solicited. Signup for the “mother ship” version of Understandably, here, or for Understandably: Work From Home, here.

(You can also just send an email to signup@understandably.com.)

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