My job went full remote on March 9, 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic began to spread around the globe. I had hit the office over the weekend when the email went around to all staff and I grabbed a couple of monitors and my keyboard, mouse and laptop stand to help get a good setup in my basement office.
We had travel planned for the week following that, so after four days working from home, we drove south for nine days. On our return, the real work from home experience began. A part of my team has always worked remotely for some of the week, so the transition to 100% remote went really smoothly. We already used Slack extensively and our Google accounts were upgraded to Enterprise giving us the ability to host Meet calls with hundreds of people.
A couple of weeks in we onboarded a new developer who I had only met once during the interview process. She was the last non-employee in our building the Friday prior to our offices closing down. That all went great with the company shipping out a pre-configured laptop to her. She was coming from a full-remote position at another company so for her, the transition was smooth.
A couple of months into our new work from anywhere lifestyle, here’s a few pros and cons that I’ve put together based on my experience.
- Sleeping in: I used to be up at 6:00 A.M. and out the door at about 7:10 A.M. to catch my train into the office. Now, I wake up without an alarm and roll out of bed around 7:30 A.M. while still starting work at 8:00 A.M. as before.
- Lunch runs: to be able to get in 8-10km of running on my lunch hour is a real treat.
- After work time: I finish up most days by about 4:30 P.M. which means ample time to get out to run an errand or go grocery shopping before dinner.
- A non-empty house: my wife works from home upstairs and our two high-schoolers are doing school from home as well. That’s a lot of people around the house all the time and it’s sometimes distracting.
- No social time: I miss the idle chit-chat, coffee runs, impromptu conversations and the other social aspects of office life. We’ve replaced some of that with more Meets and Slack calls, but it’s not the same.
- Cold feet: being in the basement all day, especially in March and early April was sometimes tough. It’s not exactly warm down here and so a space heater and a blanket was sometimes required to stay comfortable.
Overall, it’s been more positive than negative. I do enjoy the time away from work on the weekends and I’ve set some boundaries to resist the urge to sit down and work on Saturday or in the evenings. Shutting down Slack and email and turning off notifications during off hours really helps with that. Keeping the daily routine of a specific start time and end time also helps in ensuring that work and non-work time is clearly defined.
I suspect we’ll be working from home for quite some time still and there’s always the possibility that I never go back to the office. I’ve long dreamed of moving out west to Vancouver, and so maybe this new remote work reality will finally make that at least somewhat possible.