It’s hard to believe that I have been, with the exception of two days when I had no internet compliments of Tropical Storm Isasis, working exclusively from home for almost six months. I was never an advocate of working from home full time, primarily because I thought it would be boring as hell, but I have to admit that I’ve changed my tune. It hasn’t been all peaches and cream, but there are definitely more pros than cons with this arrangement.
No Commute: I live more than thirty five miles from the office, and my one-way commute lasts between thirty five and forty-five minutes depending on the time of day I leave or return. If there is an accident along the way, add another thirty minutes to an hour to the drive depending on the severity of the wreck. Now all I have to do is get up, roll out of bed, brush my teeth, get dressed, grab a cup of coffee and fire up the laptop. All of that takes a whopping fifteen minutes.
More Sleep: In order to accommodate my early bird tendencies and desire to miss the morning and afternoon rush hours, I’d wake up at an insanely early hour. Now that this is no longer an issue, I get an hour’s extra sleep. That makes a big difference, although K still insists I’m still not getting enough rest.
More Productive: Not having to listen to the office politics and drama has both its good and bad points. The good part of it is there are less distractions, and I can work with less interruptions. It also reduces the annoyance factor because the office at times feels like a glorified Kindergarten class for adults, and I have no patience for that kind of shit.
Weight: The most shocking thing about this experience has been that I’ve actually lost close to fifteen pounds. Part of the reason for this loss must from the stress related to the anxiety related to selling out house, but a lot of it also has to do with less access to food. There are always a number of candy jars laying around the office that I would avail myself to at various times of the day, and there was often an event going on that involved food of some kind. There is none of that here, so my day time snacking has disappeared.
The View: As you can see from the photo that leads this post, I have an nice view outside the window next to the table I work from. It’s very soothing and Zen-like. All I have to do if I get stressed is take a deep breath, stare out the window and let my mind wander for a few minutes. Back at the office, I didn’t have any view at all, and what was available whenever I’d venture away from my desk was a parking lot. No comparison there.
Every Day is Dress Down Day: My typical work attire was a suit and tie, which I never minded because that has been the routine for over thirty years. I have traded in the suit and tie for shorts and a t-shirt of some kind. On most days I don’t even wear socks. Even with the beard I would have to shave every day to get rid of the stubble on my neck and parts of my face if I were reporting to the office. Now I shave whenever I think of it, which isn’t very often.
It’s Cost Effective: My monthly gas and dry cleaning expenses averaged close to $300 pre-Covid. I haven’t spent a dime on dry cleaning since I’ve been home and at most I will fill my car’s gas tank twice a month. These two items alone have saved me over $230 a month. That adds up over time.
More Flexibility at Home: If I need to run a quick errand I can. If I need to take a minute to help K with something I can. More can get accomplished that way which means there are less items to catch up on during the weekends.
It’s Isolating: Our worlds have shrunk and this arrangement shrinks them more. I’ve never been a social butterfly, but I do miss being around the people I work with.
Not Being In the Loop: While not having to deal with the office politics and drama is a welcome respite, the other side of that coin is that you can learn a lot about what is going on in the organization and with some people in particular just by being around and paying attention. That is no longer possible, and while virtual staff meetings can fill some of that gap, it isn’t the same as being a fly on the wall and listening when other folks aren’t aware you’re around.
Longer Hours: Even though I sleep more, the time that would be spent commuting is now spent working. There’s nothing wrong with that as there is plenty of work to fill the time, but is interesting how I have added five work hours on average to my week since I’ve been home.
A “Longer” Day: There is no way around this one. The day seems to pass by more quickly when I am in the office compared to when I am home. It doesn’t drag, but it doesn’t fly by either.
Family Politics: If something happened at home I’d be insulated from it at the office. That is obviously no longer the case, and even though you try not to pay attention to anything that comes up during the course of a day, it’s hard to ignore. And sometimes it is hard to put it out of your mind.
I suspect this arrangement will be the norm for at least another six months, as I don’t envision a vaccine, or at least one that works compared to one that is politically expedient, being available any sooner than that. As an immunocompromised person, there are no expectations to consider returning to the office until that day comes.
Be that as it may, I suspect that certain organizations and industries will have learned they can be as productive with people working from home. Not only that, not having to rent or lease office space will improve their bottom lines, so these alternative work arrangements are here to stay in my opinion.
Regardless, I’m converted. I don’t ever see myself returning to the office full time whenever it is safe to venture outside without restrictions. Twice a week is more than enough.