Imagine your day to day routine you had in January. Back then you would not have guessed that a pandemic would disrupt this comfortable schedule. Since the novel coronavirus outbreak, everyday businesses had to make life-changing adaptations. Some businesses were lost and closed down, leaving many unemployed, while others were labeled as essential and forced their employees to work overtime to meet society’s needs. We also saw businesses close their physical offices as they made the switch to working remotely.
Since I am employed at a call center I was fortunate that my employer provided us with equipment and the opportunity to work from home. Working from home has definitely been a learning experience, and it has had its ups and downs. This has led me to write today’s blog about my experiences working from home. If you can relate to any of these experiences and want to share your own, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
When you think of working from home you may already have some preconceived thoughts on what your experience will look like. The first major benefit to working from home is the ability to work from your couch or even bed. Your home is a place where you should feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed. Being surrounded by things you love can affect your mood to be more calm and relaxed. This has a positive effect on productivity.
When working from home you also have the chance to save money on gas and transportation, not to mention the time saved. The extra time you gain from not commuting can now be used productively to complete a task you usually wouldn’t have time to do, or maybe just to get a little extra rest. Now that you don’t have to worry about things like traffic, it is easier to be on time to the beginning of your shift or meetings.
The difference in workplace attire is what I enjoy most about working from home. The good thing about video conferencing is that everyone can only see your torso up, so no one will judge you for wearing sweatpants to your meetings! I am able to wear t-shirts and PJ pants if I feel so inclined. I can decide whether I want to wear pajama pants, gym shorts, or even just say forget the pants. It has been nice to have the autonomy to decide when I wear formal attire instead of everyday wear.
The last and most important advantage many receive from working from home is the sense of safety from not being exposed to the virus. Working remotely provides a measure of practicing social distance while working. Your chances of catching the coronavirus through email, phone call, and video conferencing are basically zero. And if you do test positive for the virus but are asymptomatic, you don’t risk transmitting the disease to your colleagues while also not having to worry about losing your salary.
When I first started out working from home it was a bit nerve-racking. I knew a moderate about technology but was surely not a computer genius. As mentioned previously, my job provided us with equipment and a list of instructions to set it up. However, I had much difficulty with the complicated setup and getting the equipment working. Since this was my first time working from home I experienced a great deal of anxiety before my first shift. I wasn’t at my normal, large work desktop that had a strong internet connection, and the provided laptop had a few features that were different than what I was accustomed to. It felt like any number of problems were likely to occur. Yet a week or so went by and I adjusted to my work role, and I realized that I had been nervous for nothing. Everyone else was also adjusting, and people were more understanding of the difficulties I incurred. Now, after working from home for 5 months, I can cite other disadvantages you may encounter while working from home.
The number one thing I have found is that it can be quite difficult to balance your work and personal life. When you are working from home and quarantining in the same space you may feel like you have no escape from work. I do miss the part of clocking out of work, doing my celebratory dance before hopping in the car, and leaving all my stress at the office. Now when I turn my head and see my computer I am filled with a sense of anxiety that I am wasting time by not being productive constantly.
Another downfall is in the lack of human interaction. I miss seeing my coworkers and bosses that made me laugh and smile. I miss having colleagues immediately available to assist me when I need help. While we can use platforms such as Zoom to communicate “face-to-face”, this digital reality does not have the same effect as being surrounded by people in an office. Oh, and not to mention that it can be a little uncomfortable to step away from a virtual meeting to use the restroom. There were many occasions I had where a co-worker would forget to silence their audio while using the bathroom, and that was not a fun experience for either party. However, these moments did provide a form of comic relief during an otherwise mundane task!
I also found myself becoming easily distracted. If you have pets, children, and other family members living with you, then you know your home can get quite noisy. Your co-habitants may love you and try to get your attention, not realizing you are working or on a call. Not to mention if you live in the city as I do, you may hear quite a few noises coming from outside like lawn mowing, cars, or neighbors. Thin walls have been my biggest enemy during the past five months.
So while working from home may have its perks, it also can be frustrating and confusing.
Maybe you truly enjoyed working from home and have decided to pursue a career that allows this, or maybe your work is going to continue being virtual until cases are greatly reduced. In either case, If you find yourself working remotely here are a few tips to keep in mind:
If you are currently working from home, I hope you have been able to identify with my experience. And if you are looking for a job that provides those opportunities, keep these tips in mind as you prepare for your new career. I, for one, have personally enjoyed the experience of working from home and will be searching for a job that allows the flexibility of working from home.
Until next week!