I’ve worked remotely for most of my working career. I’ve often found myself managing people and teams in other locations and in some instances, in different time zones, which has included my direct manager at times; Having everyone working from home however, is something that I’ve only experienced this year with the lockdown. And maybe that is why I’m reluctant to go back into the office. Maybe it’s because I know that I’m not missing out on conversations by continuing to work from home, because hardly anyone has gone back into the office. But I don’t think that’s the only reason.
I like my current commute time. I like being able to do my morning routine and then just walking over to my desk that gets bathed in sunlight in the morning. I like sitting in the sun with the window open so that the cool winter breeze blows in. I like that I can turn on background music that I want to listen to. I like being able to spend time with my children in the mornings and take them to school in the mornings without worrying about rushing to get into the office or worrying about the bus hitting traffic and not making it in on time. I like being able to walk into my kitchen to make a coffee or tea when I need to, knowing that what I want is available, including the milk I prefer. I like being able to make my own lunch when I feel like eating, without considering what’s around for me to buy for lunch, where I could sit and eat, how much it’s going to cost, or how much time I have, because I can whip something up really quick and I can get everything done and be back at my desk for my next meeting. When I am in meetings (which is almost always), we’re all on the phone and online, so being at home doesn’t matter. If anything, meetings start on time because no-one is waiting for someone to find the meeting room or walk over from the other side of the office (or building) to get to the meeting. And dare I say that if the meeting doesn’t need my full attention, I can get on with other work. I’m also not interrupted by my office colleagues when they’re on a call and I’m not, because there isn’t anyone physically around me. I also don’t need to worry how loud I talk on the phone (not that I usually talk loudly) or who could be listening in. I also prefer really managing my own time and I’m quite disciplined about it after all these years of working remotely in some form. I still get dressed and make myself look office-worthy, but I don’t wear my suits when I’m at home. And like I mentioned earlier, I’m much more productive from home.
Now I understand that this isn’t the case for everyone. I know that working from home isn’t ideal for everyone and I know that there are some that still prefer to be in the office and that some still somewhat frown on those of us who aren’t physically in the office. Maybe it’s because they’re not as productive when at home or maybe it’s something else. But I do know that things will be different when we’re all asked to return to the office. I know that many of us have grown accustomed to working from home and would prefer to keep working a few days a week from home. I know that that’ll mean that you might never (or hardly ever) meet particular people in person, because the in-office days just won’t match up. I know that it’ll change, again, the way we work, and I’m expecting there to be a period of time when we’ll be a little less productive, as we meet up again (in person) with our colleagues, because we’re taking the time to catch up and getting used to physically working alongside others again.
For me though, it’s meant something else. It’s made me look at what I really what I want to do. I used to love what I did. I used to look forward to every work day. Lately though, I’ve felt less enthused. The issues seem to be the same thing on repeat and I’m a bit over it. It’s made me think of ways to accelerate what I’d really like to focus all my time on, which is about helping others in this space right here; It’s about sharing what I’ve gone through and helping others that have similar challenges or are going through the same things. I’d rather help people make their lives beautiful, than making an adjustment to an IT system that will only be changed again in a few months (if not sooner). I’d rather make an impact that to me, feels more authentic and has more of a purpose.
And therein lies the real reason why I prefer working from home. I can use every spare minute that I have, working on building something that matters to me, and I don’t think I’m alone here. I think that there are a lot of us who have started to question what we do for a living and question if that’s something that we really want to continue. It’s almost like we’ve been given a taste of what could-be and been shown what’s really important in our lives and there’s many of us who have stopped and thought “hey – I like that better”.
So if you haven’t already, stop and think about what’s really important to you. I heard someone say earlier this week, that if you’re concerned about money, know that you can make money in various ways these days. There are many options and things to do, so that you can continue to work from home if that’s what you want to do. If the answer you’re seeking doesn’t seem obvious to you now, stop and allow yourself the time to think, dream and question. If it’s something that you really want to do, you’ll find a way. And know that you won’t be missing out on what’s normal or what’s expected, because all that has changed. There is no normal like we knew it before. Make your life and live it, how you want it. Make that your “normal”. It’s time to make that change and it’s okay to make any changes and adjustments that you need to, right now.