It's hard to believe that Alicia and I have been at home, trying to work, for almost a year. I don't think many of us had this one on our 2020 bingo card. The time seems right to take a step back and share some thoughts on this experience.
I think it's important to draw the distinction of what it means to #WFH during a global crisis. I've been home since the tail-end of last March, but I've only been working from home since September. Why? Because we were fortunate enough to have schools open for our two children. Many have been home with their kids since this thing heated up... and if that's you, boy do I empathize. Y'all are definitely not working from home... you're at home during a crisis, trying to work.
With that out of the way, here are the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of #WFH.
No Commute: I'm sure everyone misses the morning drive downtown on a Tuesday in September, right? This experience has really shown what a time waster commuting is. We've taken back 90-120 minutes a day that we can give to work or use in life, depending on the needs of any particular day. We also shouldn't forget the positive environmental impacts associated with this rapid reduction in commuting.
Lunch with Alicia: When I worked in the office, I would eat my brown bag lunch in my office... working. Since we've been home, Alicia and I have lunch together every day. An opportunity to disconnect from work and catch up. I really value this.
Pets: This one's self-explanatory... we love our pets and they can be such a source of love and stress relief. Have a bad meeting? No problem, go cuddle with your dogs. This is what my wife sees when she looks back from her work desk...
Pajama Pants and Slipper Socks: Some days, you just don't have it... and getting to be "business on top" and "party on the bottom" is pretty sweet.
Being Home when the Kids get Home: There's something quaint about 3:20PM now. The school bus arrives at the end of the driveway. The dogs bark their ever-loving heads off. The kids return! A brief respite from work to pop up and see how the day went and then back to work. I like that.
Sitting All Day: Who isn't dealing with some ergonomic discomfort right now? I've had issues with my lower back and my right shoulder... and I'm confident it all stems from the extended periods sitting. We took those short walks between meeting rooms for granted, let me tell you.
A Lack of Human Contact: I'm an introvert, but I do miss having some real-life human interaction during the work day. Those brief interactions in the hallway or those moments when someone would stand in my office door and we'd chat for 5 minutes.
Less than Ideal Work Spaces: We have it better than most, but it's still not the same. I'm working in the basement on a $30 desk from Ikea. Alicia's working in our walk-in closet on a $40 desk from Ikea (she got the fancy one). It's not the same as our offices on campus. I miss my massive whiteboards.
Everything is a Meeting: This is the ugly side of the lack of serendipitous human contact referenced above. Some of those hallway chats and doorway discussions still drove work and mitigated the need for meetings. Now, everything seems hyper structured and over scheduled. My kids never asked me "how many meetings do you have today?" before the pandemic... now it's a metric that everyone is acutely aware of.
Virtual Conferences: I know some people are excited about these. The learnings without the travel... for me, these just feel like more meetings at a time when no one has the spoons for more meetings. What I used to love about conferences was the ability to detach from the operational imperative of work (and even family) and immerse myself in specific content to drive my learning and my planning. Virtual Conferences don't seem to give me that. Me no likey.
I think I'm at a point where I know the mix of #WFH I would prefer. I would like 2 days a week at the office and 3 days a week at home. The 2 days on campus would be in the middle of the week to minimize the commute pain, especially in September and October.
Take care of yourselves!