A few weeks ago, my company instituted a mandatory work-from-home policy. I applaud the company's attempts to keep us all safe and healthy, and I'm grateful that the company has the tools necessary to allow us to (fairly) seamlessly operate as a remote workforce. But this has been a huge adjustment for me, and I'm not sure how I feel about working remotely.
One of the hardest parts about preparing to work remotely was setting up my environment. I live in a not-so-big 2 bedroom apartment, which I share with a roommate, and while I do actually have a desk in my bedroom ... I never got around to buying a desk chair. I have a comfy reading chair in my corner, so since my desk in on wheels, I've wheeled the desk over and sat in that chair most days. I've also occasionally brought a chair from my dining room table into my room to use as a desk chair. At work I have an extra monitor, which I don't have at home, and I haven't yet figured out whether it's worth it to download whatever program I need to use my TV as a monitor (the internet tells me MacBooks and Samsung TVs don't play nicely by default). I haven't yet figured out a good "standing desk" option at home. My setup at home is very different than what I'm used to at work, and it's been an adjustment to settle in to the new setup.
Adjusting to a new setup wasn't the only struggle I had with working from home. Being alone at home was also a big adjustment. I don't consider myself a particularly social person, but I do enjoy spending time around other people. There are days at work when I rarely leave my desk and I don't have many conversations, but just having other people working at the desks next to me helps me feel like a part of a team. Working alone in my apartment, I miss that feeling. My team has still been having our regular meetings, and we've been communicating well during those meetings, but I don't feel the same sense of "team" as I do when we're sitting in the same room.
Another reason why I struggle with remote work is that I get easily distracted. In the office, there are distractions, but not as many as there are when I'm working from home. When I work from home, it's easier for me to be distracted by my phone or my TV or even the snacks in the kitchen. During our weekly yoga/meditation session this past Thursday, I found myself checking my phone when I should have been focused on meditation. I find myself being less engaged in meetings than I am when I'm in a room with my teammates. I'm decent (but not great) at avoiding distractions at work, but I haven't yet figured out how to avoid the distractions working from home.
Speaking of meetings ... that's been one thing that has helped me quite a bit in navigating work from home. I'll admit, the fact that I'm home alone all day makes it a little easier to deal with meetings (as we've seen from internet videos, having kids at home makes meetings hard). But for me, the opportunity to spend some time video chatting with my teammates breaks up some of the isolation I feel from being alone at home. My team has even added a standup on our regularly standup-free Wednesday to give us all another opportunity to touch base and chat.
Despite the added meetings, I still have found plenty of time to be productive. Some days I'm able to sit down, focus, and get my work done. The problem is, on days like that, I find myself sitting at my desk the whole day without moving around much. While this is good for my productivity, it's not so great for my body, and I need to be better about getting up and walking around more often. I love that feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day that I get from being productive, but I could do without the accompanying knee pain (which I alleviate at work by raising my desk so that I can stand).
So far, working from home hasn't been terrible, and I do feel like I'm somewhat productive (which is the most I can ask for most days), but I do miss going into the office. I miss being able to have an afternoon cup of coffee without having to make it myself. I miss sitting next to my teammates. I miss being able to see everyone's face during meetings. I miss just being around everyone.
Over the coming weeks, I know things are going to change. For one thing, I'm now at my parents' house, which means I'm surrounded by more people (all three of us kids are home at the moment), but also means that I need to find a new setup, preferably one where I'm not exposed to all the chaos. As the company continues to adapt to working from home, I know expectations and procedures will change as well. I'm looking forward to eventually returning to the office, but until then, I'm continuing to learn more about working from home and figuring out how to best make it work for me.