I stepped away from my desk. I had been working nonstop since mid-morning. I walked downstairs from my home office to see my son pull into the driveway. I greeted him at the door with a smile. We chatted briefly about his day and I told him about my meetings. Before he went up to his room to chill out on his phone, I told him that I loved him.
I worked for years and rarely saw my family during the day. I would see my wife briefly before I running out the door to beat the rush of the morning commute. I wouldn’t see my kids until they finished some extra-curricular activity in the evening and we all sat down for dinner.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, like many people, I started working from home and haven’t gone back. One day I had a small cubicle in an office, the next I was working out of our spare bedroom.
I remember the day well: Thursday, March 12, 2020. One of the senior leaders where I worked announced that, starting on Friday, we would be working from home. We weren’t even wearing masks yet. The team had a ton of questions and, of course, he didn’t have many answers. My biggest concern was making sure that the “work from home” directive was dropped in a week’s time. I had a big client presentation coming up and didn’t want to run into any technical glitches with the video conference. Oh, that sounds so naïve now.
The meeting came and went and I still haven’t returned to the office.
A blessing in disguise
Covid has been deadly — 5.8 million of deaths worldwide — but I can’t complain about my situation. I know many people don’t have the same luxury of working from home, their jobs or their employers don’t allow it. Many other employers requested workers to work virtually during the height of the pandemic, but are now forcing workers back to the office Hell or high water.
I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to work from home the entire time and into the future. I get to share a coffee with my wife before she goes to school. I even get to greet my son before he heads off for his day. I’m there too when both come home in the evening. The amazing thing is that I’ve been able to excel in this new environment more than I ever thought possible.
What am I missing out on
While I’m thankful for the opportunity to work from home, there have been a few things that I’ve missed. They include:
—The commute home. I suspect that I’ve added ten years to my life by eliminating traffic bottlenecks and other crazy drivers from my life. (Of course, I drive like a saint.) While all true, I’ve come to miss the final ten minutes of my commute. I miss having the chance to collect my thoughts. In my new environment, I go from work to home with the snap of my fingers. I have little time to process my day, before helping with dinner or cleaning up the house.
—Coffee and friends. I didn’t drink coffee until about ten years ago. I started drinking it when a good friend of mine, a coworker, got me started. She talked about making her coffee runs to Wawa. I was soon hooked. Yes, I still have a chance to connect with peers over video conference, but it’s not the same as catching up with them over coffee or lunch. Nothing beats face-to-face.
–Second opinions. I’ve missed being able to ask a colleague to proof something I’ve written or offer input on a presentation. Some of my best work has come about because of give-and-take with others. Yes, I can still request feedback via email, but it’s just not the same as an in-person request.
The past two years have been challenging. We’ve even seen our share of irate conversations — can you say the “vax or no-vax” debate. Here’s hoping the crisis will soon be over and decisions on where to work will soon be based on employees’ desires and not a worldwide pandemic.
I certainly hope and pray!