Coronavirus times in Stockholm and Sweden

Day 57 of working from home.

As soon as it became clear that the outbreak wasn’t under control, we received a note from our head of HR that everyone would be working from home, globally, starting on March 11. It was pretty sudden – none of us had prepared for this so most of us left things in the office that we would have taken home had we known (keyboard, mice, monitors, etc).

There are a million posts on Facebook and other social media on what it is to work from home so I won’t talk so much about work – but I did want to share some perspectives from my personal life now that both my wife and I are stuck in a WFH situation.

We live in a tiny apartment (although we are moving to a larger place) so the first week was full of practical challenges. How would we divide up our meetings so that we’re not talking over each other? How do we ensure that we have enough work space? Can someone use the kitchen if the other person is in a meeting? Surprisingly, all of those potential challenges became non-issues once I moved into the bedroom. Yes, I built a tiny little office in the bedroom of our tiny apartment. We happened to have a little table (Vittsjö) from IKEA that displayed some photos, posters, and flowers in the living room. We moved that table to the bedroom and voila! suddenly I had a desk (albeit small).

Overall, we’re doing okay. I used to walk to and from work every day, and now that is no longer a part of my routine, we’re taking a lot more walks in the morning or evening to get some fresh air. I’m also able to run more errands during the day (like pick up packages) since most of those places are close to home. Unlike what the media says about what Swedes are doing during the coronavirus outbreak, we’re not actually spending our free time at bars or restaurants. My wife and I are socially distancing, avoiding public transit, avoiding unnecessary activities… but are we still doing things that are part of our lives? Yes. But we’re not being reckless.

Some things we discovered while working from home:

  • You better like cooking! We have cooked so many meals during the past 8 weeks. A lot of favorites make repeat appearances, like korvstroganoff (Falukorv stroganoff over rice), lövbiff gryta (a creamy stew with beef over pasta, or ravioli med korv (stuffed ravioli with merguez or kabanos sausage). The nice thing is we typically cook enough for two meals so we have leftovers for lunch the following day. Occasionally we will splurge and get some take out for dinner, whether it’s the local Indian place or the new-ish burger place down the street. With home-cooked meals comes a LOT of dishes. Our poor dishwasher has been working overtime since we started WFH. It runs 4-5 times a week – which for us is a lot.
  • I also noticed how much coffee I was going through! We bought an amazing Moccamaster last Christmas and since then, I’ve used it more than my trusty Jura espresso machine. I’m going through ground coffee like no other – probably a pack a week given how much coffee I drink.
  • And finally, electricity use has gone up a TON. My electricity provider shows us how many kWh we use every month, and compared to 2019, we’ve used over 70% more during the month of April. It’s crazy, but not terribly surprising given we have computers and monitors that are on all day at home. But that goes to show that you should unplug your devices if you won’t be using them for a while… they do suck energy even while on standby.

How is it like to work from home for you? Let me know in the comments!

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