COVID imposed on us immediate and radical changes. That is a fact. I will not go into the existential side of this powerful changing force; I will just be sharing my personal experience with the ironic side of this change: Working From Home. What once was a farfetched desire, an envy, is now a reality that I am not sure how I feel about, or if it is good for me at all!
I remember the days when we had to think a million times before submitting a Work from Home Request (WFH Request), the pre-COVID office days. You had to have a serious reason to request working from home, something like house repairs that you must be present for, a delivery that you cannot miss … Working From Home .. it sounded like a colourful melody when I said it! “I will be working from home tomorrow!!” I remember the joy and convenience of waking up on a weekday, easily half an hour past my usual alarm time, simply changing into sweatpants and a comfortable t-shirt, using the comfort of my couch to do my work and attend my meetings, and not having to rush the night before to cook and pack lunch for the next day. Working from home felt like a special gift, a privilege, a very welcome (albeit once-in-a-blue-moon) change to my fast-paced life of a daily one hour-long commute, rushing to arrive on time, spending 8 hours in business casual clothes (which, looking back, felt too restrictive), and not to mention the money spent on food and snacks!
However, I wish I could tell you I still feel the same about the idolized WFH. It seems you can have too much of a comfortable thing. We have been working from home full-time since March 11, 2020. That is 965 working days. 965 days of no early alarms, no commuting, no wading through snow storms, no windy alleys, and no office clothes (at least the bottom part). But that is also 965 days of no human contact, no coffee chats in the kitchen, no shared lunches, no exchange of personal heartwarming family news, no relationships with colleagues, no work life. That’s 965 days of (almost) being in the same space day in and day out from early morning hours until bedtime. That’s 965 days of virtual meetings and 0 days of face-to-face meetings. That’s 965 (mostly) silent work days, just me and my screen.
You’re probably now thinking I am one of those party poopers who would vote ‘for office’! While I think our office interactions brought value to our weekdays that no home setup can replace, the question remains: would I trade my WFH for working from the office 100%? I’ll need 965 more days before I can say for sure!