Phoning it in

     I’ve recently joined the thousands of people who now work from home. My employer’s initial two-week trial period of telecommuting has now stretched into a month. I wouldn’t be surprised if this new business arrangement becomes permanent.

     My co-workers and I didn’t have any time to adjust to the idea of working remotely. We were told on a Friday that we would begin working from home on the upcoming Monday. That was at the beginning of March, which was also the start of the safety protocols put in place by Governor Baker as the Coronavirus pandemic escalated.

     As much as my fellow workers and I didn’t want to leave the comfortable camaraderie of our office, we knew the owners of the company were making this decision to keep everyone safe. The General Manager saw what loomed on the horizon and he wanted to stay one step ahead of the crisis. In an effort to keep everyone safe, he made the decision for us. Working from home was given the green light. It was going to take some getting use to, but we were all grateful the company would still be in business (and we would still be receiving a paycheck). An uncomfortable transition was a small price to pay compared to some of the devastating stories of people who have lost everything due to COVID-19. 

     My transition to a home-office went relatively smoothy. I reorganized my desk area to accommodate my work computer. I sought the advice of internet gurus who had tips on how to make a seamless switch from an office atmosphere to working from home. I kept my daily routine exactly the same. I set my morning alarm slightly later because I no longer had to commute, so that’s a big plus. I shower, shave, get dressed and eat breakfast while listening to Matty In The Morning on Kiss-108.

     I am lucky to have a separate work area on my second floor, so I don’t have to work from the sofa or the kitchen table. The only distractions are cat’s paws reaching under the door trying to gain access to my work area. It’s extremely hard to type on a computer when there’s a cat draped over the keyboard (which is a daily photo opportunity on Facebook for cat owners working from home). Sorry, kitties. You’ll have to wait for Bring Your Cat To Work Day (although I think there’s a reason that’s not a thing).

     It took some getting used to, but I was able to get my computer linked to the company network. I have access to everything I need to do my job. My daily work is deadline intensive, and being free from distractions is key to getting things done within the designated timeframe. Working away from the main part of my house enables me to focus. Most days I can get things done before my deadline passes. Creativity under pressure has become one of my strong suits. My workflow is the same as it was when I had to commute to my office. At home, production seems even more efficient because I know when I finish for the day, I’m already home. That’s a great incentive.

     Working from home definitely has more pros than cons. I have unlimited access to the coffee pot. I never have to look up and see my boss standing over my desk with a folder of work he says he needs immediately. Since I have no commute, the only traffic I hit is on the stairway when I have to step over my cats. Every day is casual Friday, although I make sure I don’t work in my pajamas in case there’s a spontaneous Zoom meeting to attend.

     No matter how good it sounds, things are not all unicorns and rainbows. There is a downside. I miss my co-workers. I miss listening to the morning radio trivia contest with them as we guess answers and imagine winning the $1000 prize. I miss 10:30 am Banana Break (don’t ask). I miss walking laps around the building with people from other departments. Not only is it good exercise, but it’s good to hear about happenings in other people’s lives. My co-workers and I do text each other with work related questions. We connect through email when sending important material. We occasionally speak on the phone, but it’s a poor substitute for face-to-face communication. An emoji only goes so far.

     I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a full recovery. I hope when this pandemic ends we can resume our lives right where we left off. Joni Mitchell once sang, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.” The world changed overnight, and I am trying to get used to this so called “new normal”. I would go back to the “old normal” in a heartbeat. Maybe the “old normal” wasn’t exactly normal at all, but it was certainly a lot more fun.

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