The Effect of Social Distancing on Working From Home

Yesterday, I was chatting with a friend of mine who had just gotten the news that her workplace was shutting down indefinitely due to COVID-19, and she said, “You’re so lucky that you always work from home! Things must be totally normal for you.”

I had to explain to her that no, that’s not true at all. I’m affected by social distancing just as much as anyone else.

In case you’ve somehow missed it, “social distancing” is increasing the physical space between people to slow the spread of contagious diseases. Basically, social distancing means that we should all stay home or, if we choose to go out, keep others at arm’s length—if we imagine that an arm is 6 feet long, that is. Many people have been told to work from home or not to show up to work at all for the sake of social distancing.

Then, you have people like me—people who always work from home. Just because our physical work environment hasn’t changed doesn’t mean that social distancing hasn’t affected us both professionally and mentally.

The Professional Tea

For context, I currently have two main sources of work-from-home income: writing for a ghostwriting company and boarding dogs in my home. Help me add publishing romance novels to the list by buying my book Heartbroken Heights on Amazon or grabbing an ARC copy on Booksprout!

Why would ghostwriters be affected? Book sales should be higher than ever, right? Maybe that’s true, but many people are worried about the future. It costs around $2000 (depending on the package and word count) to get a romance novel written by my company, all up front when you click the “Place Order” button. It’s going to take at least 20 days for the writer, editor and cover designer to do their jobs after you order the book. Depending on where the book is published, it takes 1-3 months to see income from a published book.

So, all things considered, you’re looking at $2000 upfront and a period of 2-4 months before you’re going to see any money back from your investment. Many clients are choosing to hold onto what they have in their bank accounts, leaving ghostwriters without work.

Why would dog-care services be affected? I thought this one would be obvious, but then I realized that it isn’t fair for me to think that way. Why should my friend draw connections for my problems when she has her own to worry about?

Here’s the dog-sitting deal. When air travel shuts down, people don’t board their dogs. When the government tells us to practice social distancing, people want their dogs around for companionship. When workplaces tell employees to work from home, people don’t need dog walkers or doggy-day-care services.

Note that I am in no way advocating for people to ignore safety precautions. I’m also not poking fun at my friend or calling her out. On the surface, working from home during a pandemic sounds great! I’m just pointing out that not all work-from-home sources of income remain viable in the face of social distancing. I hope everyone out there who works from home is finding ways to stay strong during these uncertain times!

The Mental Tea

Surprisingly, I’m not spending any more time at home than normal. I write a lot—often a minimum of 4000 words a day—and I usually choose to do that writing at home. I can go somewhere else to work, but I like sitting in my comfortable office chair with a snack, a mug of coffee and my familiar keyboard.

However, it’s like now that the little coffee shop up the street is closed, a switch has flipped in my brain and I wish I could get out of the house. I never felt like my tendency to keep to myself and spend so much time working in my room was a problem before the virus left me without the option to go somewhere else. My roommates are all home, complaining about the onset of stir-craziness, while I’m…

Just fine. How can I be just fine when no one else is?

Asking that made me question if I was fine, and I haven’t been fine since. The stir-craziness is getting to me even though my habits haven’t been affected by social distancing. Over the past few days, I’ve been finding myself wondering if I should get out more and do more things, even though I mostly just frequented the gym before all this started.

The moral of the story? It’s weird how much we want things we never wanted before when we suddenly can’t have them anymore. I’m sure some famous person said this somewhere at some point, but it took a pandemic for me to miss what I never had.

How has social distancing affected your work from home experience? Let’s commiserate!


Looking for ARC readers!

Do you like to read romance? Do you like free books? We may be able to help each other! I’m looking for people to be part of my advance review team. You get free copies of my new releases in exchange for honest reviews. If you’re interested, email me at franks.fiction@gmail.com !

Published by Dale Franks

Author, ghostwriter, blogger, freelancer

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