Thursday, December 31, 2020

COVID-19: Working from Home

When the company I work for closed its office for COVID, it was meant to be temporary. In March, we were told that the stay-at-home order would be for only a few weeks. A few weeks became a few months. Then it became the new normal. As of now, our current return-to-office date is July 2021.

It took a while to get used to working at home full time. In the beginning, I worked off of my laptop, at the dining room table. Then I moved to a side table/bookshelf, on which we displayed potted plants. Around July, I made arrangements to retrieve the full-size monitor from my desk at the office. That made a big difference.

When my company extended our stay-at-home policy in the Summer, I bought a little desk. This helped greatly, because although the bookshelf was a flat surface, I had to sit on the floor to use it. The little desk was foldable, so I could move it around. We experimented with a few locations. I first worked out of an unused hallway. When my daughter went to college, I moved it into her room. Today I work out of the master bedroom.

All throughout these changes I had regular meetings and calls which took place over Zoom and Slack. I first took these calls in my closet, valuing sound and reception. Then I became mildly obsessed with my video calls' background and lighting. My tips: 1) sit next to window, 2) stare at the camera, not your thumbnail, and 3) instead of playing with the 'mute' button, just leave it on.

Other high-tech companies have begun to embrace an all-remote model, though I'm not sure I'm ready. One reason: my wife already works from home for an all-remote company. Her normal is me being in an office all day. Another reason: I like my office campus amenities, which include free bicycles, a table-top multi-game arcade machine, and a half basketball court.

It'll be interesting to see where I'm working 365 days from now, but one thing was proven this year: my office is truly wherever my work laptop is open and plugged in.

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