Now that I’ve been working from home for almost a year and half, I figured I’d give you a quick update on how that’s going for me – and share some tips that I’ve learned along the way. I feel like I’m kind of in that weird in-between space of working from home – and that looming deadline of my return to the office. I recently found out that the one-day per week, which was supposed to start this September, has been pushed back.
And, I’ve really started mentally preparing myself to work from home 100% of the time forever. Because I work in a cancer hospital, our patients are incredibly susceptible to COVID – and really any disease or virus that could attack their otherwise already-compromised immune systems. And, because I don’t work in direct patient care, I really can technically do my job from home 100% of the time.
Is working for home working for me?
Now, I interact with many members of my team on a daily basis through text or email. I definitely miss those impromptu lunches where I would swing by my friend’s offices and grab them for a quick lunch. I still make it a point to get out, but we kind of live all over town these days, so it makes it a bit harder.
Because I’m kind of mentally preparing for the news that I’ll be 100% remote, I’m trying to find that things that inspire me about the thought. Do I love that idea? I wouldn’t say that I”m thrilled by the thought, but I wouldn’t say I absolutely hate it, either. It definitely has some perks. For one, I’ve been able to potty train two puppies. If I were in my office, there is no way in heck that Aaron and I would have been able to get a puppy – not to mention two of them.
I don’t have a commute, and I would say that overall, my stress levels have gone down a bit – even though, I’m actually working more. I think part of this is due to the fact that I have all of the technology that I need right at my fingertips. If I need something, my work makes sure that I have it.
One huge bonus for me, is that I actually get to see my husband more. Before the pandemic, Aaron and I would leave early and get home late – and really only see each other at the very end of our days. And, even though we are both working during the day – and not having full on conversations, we can still eat lunch together – or pop in to each other’s offices to check in. It’s been a really good thing for us!
What’s the home office set up like?
I was lucky enough that my work provided me with the same technology set up that I have in my Med Center office. And, now that I‘m back in my home office, I really enjoy the space I’ve created. I’m right next to a window, so I get a ton of natural light, and I’ve got my puppies working right next to me.
Tips to working from home
Once I know officially what my work from home situation is going to be like longterm, I have some ideas about how I can fulfill the human interaction that I used to get in the middle of my work week. For one, I’ve been zooming with a ton of colleagues, and we love to catch up over camera.
I also like to have lunch plans on the books, and I”m thinking that once my hospital allows volunteers back on site, that I would like to participate in that as well. I don’t feel disconnected from the mission, but it always put things into perspective for me – to walk over to the hospital – and be reminded of why I do the work that I do. All of that, coupled with some in-person meetings, should get me my “work fix.”
As far as the work life balance goes (isn’t burnout the new buzzword?), that’s kind of where I struggle. I really try to make an effort to stay within my normal work hours. I have also been really making a conscious effort to take a lunch. And by lunch, sometimes that means just taking some time for myself away from the computer. Maybe I spend some time in the yard with the dogs – or maybe it’s taking a walk around the neighborhood and listening to a podcast – maybe it’s doing my workout during my lunch hour.
I’m really trying my best to create a working from home environment that satisfies me. I spoke yesterday about that need for a “commute.” I would use that time in my car in the morning to pray – and mentally prepare a to-do list for the day. These days, I have my coffee and haven’t really been going through a to-do list. It can lead to a scattered, unfocused approach to work. Creating a new “morning commute” is something that I want to do over the next month.
Once I log off in the evening, it’s really important to decompress. So, Aaron and I take our walk in the evening. To me, it creates a truly physical separation from my “office” into my evening time. And, sometimes we plan dinners with friends in the evening – or sometimes I have a tennis lesson. It’s nice to mix it up a bit and find the things that make you happy.
So, in short, I’m doing the best I can – aren’t we all? I don’t know what my “return to work” looks like, but I’m determined to have a a good attitude and to find the bright spots regardless of what that outcome is. The grass can always be greener, and I’m happy to have a job doing what I really enjoy!