As challenging as so much of the last 14 months (and counting) have been, I can say with a reasonably high level of confidence that it’s also been the best thing to happen in a very long time — but only for one singular but hugely important reason: work/life balance.
Spoiler: I feel like I have that again for the first time in many years.
I also realize this isn’t true for everyone — maybe not for most. But for me, who only lives 11 miles from the office, getting back ~3 hours a day has been huge. That’s 15 hours a week which is certainly not nothing.
Even traveling only a comparatively short distance ate into time with my family and opportunities to exercise and generally take better mental and physical care of myself. Like many others, I had convinced myself that it wasn’t so bad, even with many of my colleagues facing even worse commutes.
And sure, at first remote working was a challenge. Especially once you factored in that everyone was at home. All day. All staring at screens. But quickly, everything started to function in a much more asynchronous way, making it possible to be both more efficient and effective. Sure, the dishes and laundry need to be put away once and a while. Still, those little distractions also make for good mental breaks: a chance to think, to clear my head, and to step back in ways that were absolutely not been possible until now.
Do I miss actually being in an office? Maybe a little, once and a while.1
Do I miss seeing friends at work? Of course.
Do I miss my commute? Hell no.
Am I looking forward to whatever a return to work looks like? Nope, no sir.
This year has proven for me, and it seems for others too, that it’s no longer imperative to be in the office all day, every day. If I can be more productive and effective by not working from an office — or only being there 1 or 2 days a week and therefore able to maintain this healthy new balance I’ve found, that seems like a win for everyone. I can’t say I’m too confident about how it might go if things all go back to how they were. I’ve seen that movie before…
- Truthfully what I miss most right now is access to the big ‘ol guillotine stack cutter more than anything. ↩