Well, it has not been the start of the year we were thinking of when we made our resolutions last year. The year is almost 4 months in and it feels like we are crawling a decade a week. I pray for those out there affected by COVID-19. Many out there are sick, lost jobs or have family that are sick or have passed. You will get through this. We will all get through this. Daybreak will come.
I wanted to write a little about my experience working from home. I have a ton of technical topics in my head I want to dump in the blog, but all the happenings in the world have pushed me in a slightly different direction. For now, I just want to have a “chat” and try to motivate others.
My company transitioned office employees to work from home a few weeks back and I’ve been here ever since. I normally work from home once a week. Even at my last place, I worked from home once a week. I usually spend about an hour driving in to work and another back. I never hit traffic to and from work since I stay off the main e-ways and try to stick to the back roads. So the hour is usually all driving and a couple of red lights. As someone who supports the world-wide network for the company, I can do my job from anywhere. I’ve always wanted to work from home full-time. Now…not so much.
There are tons of benefits with work from home for both the employee and the employer. I am sure plenty of you are already aware of that and even work from home full-time. However the recent work from home push is slightly different. Accompanying many parents are their children who cannot attend school. Parents are tasked with taking care and educating their kids while trying to balance a work schedule as well. I think about this now, sitting in the basement with my kids chasing each other directly above me. It does not happen all the time, but it happens. Kids will be kids. They need to run. Thankfully, after my daughter was born my wife chose to stay home with both of the kids. She has already been at home prior to all of this. Nothing changed on that end and it does let me concentrate on work. However, being at home makes me appreciate everything she does ten-fold. Kids are a handful. When I was back in the office I imagined all the running around she did, but now I see it. Back in the office my breaks would consist of stretching, coffee, hilarious jokes and more coffee. However now, I run up to see how I can give a hand or assist in anything going on at that moment. Even doing the dishes currently in the sink help. However, that is not why I wouldn’t want to work from home all of the time. Quite the opposite; I want to do more to help.
However, I believe the reason I wouldn’t want to work from home all the time is simply the way time is blending in right now. As I write this, I have to remember what day I am currently in. The Stay-at-Home orders have us only going out if necessary (food). Everything has transitioned home: work, entertainment, church. Yes, we can go out for a stroll, but the weather has not been the greatest either. So at this moment, everything blends in and feels the same. Once things get back to normal (AND THEY WILL!) then I am sure my opinion will change.
Either way, unbelievably, I do miss the office environment. There is something about hearing multiple people pound away on keyboards that I miss. Perhaps I can find myself an audio track of random people typing. Office Sounds 2020. Being close to the different teams and engagement is different. It is not a bad thing, but it is different. My manager and the rest of the team have a daily call to catch up and touch-base. Its scheduled for thirty minutes, but we usually go an hour plus. We seem to find more time to communicate, plan and train. Overall, I think a mix of three days away and two days in the office would be perfect.
I do find I get more done when I am home. Some projects have been moved back further in the year, but I do have more of an opportunity to look at our overall infrastructure, work on documentation and find things to improve. If there is something I can think of to make lives easier, bring forth redundancy or add more security this is the time to do it. No matter what project you are working on at home, there is one important item. It is important to be comfortable. My little office corner is in the basement. A lot of people do not even have some office space, so I cannot complain. However, the basement is a little chilly this time of year. On most calls I am wearing my hoodie, looking a little mischievous. I know there has to be some sort of spider starring at me…I feel it. Besides that, I do have the main monitor and laptop. There is enough work space. The chair I have is old, but comfortable. Just because you are at home does not mean you will be sitting more, but it happens. Make sure you at least have a comfortable chair. Walk away and take a break once in a while. It is good mentally and physically.
Depending on your situation, things might not be easy at home. All we can do is make the best out of it and more importantly, stay safe. Whether you work from home all the time and it is simply normal or are going through the day with the entire tribe surrounding you, you’ll get through it. I believe once all has passed, companies that did not believe in a remote workforce will have a change of heart. The proof is in the pudding.
How have you been coping with what is happening around you? How has your work from home experience been?