Barefoot and working
This is my 2nd full week working from home with my new job. The transition out from the on-campus-office grind was quick and painless. I am happy to be settled into the new routine in my home office.
I can do laundry on a Tuesday. I won’t need to take a day off for a 20min visit to the dentist’s office. Coffee is cheap. Shoes are optional. But there are challenges, too. I need to put in extra effort to connect with new colleagues so they can get to know me, and trust me. I need to learn to manage my time so I don’t end up working 12hr days (it is easy to lose track of time). And according to a recent study, I’ll need to pay attention to processes surrounding evaluation and promotion when the time comes.
When I communicate with my office-bound colleagues, the first thing they ask about is if I am enjoying working from home. My response is enthusiastic. I can admit there is a pang of sadness when the conversation turns their way and I learn about the office shenanigans I left behind – both the bad and the good news makes me miss it a little bit. Working side-by-side with people makes you feel good and productive, and it makes you feel included. Even if the work is less than glamorous, like when I volunteered to set up tables and folding chairs for a street fair last fall; it was boring and laborious, but the people made it good. Camaraderie cannot be undervalued.
The best part of working from home is the ability to create a personalized office atmosphere through real-time web communication technology. Throughout my day, I keep several communication channels open, connected to my global network of colleagues and friends. On one channel, I get traditional office chatter including gossip and mildly amusing community revelations. On another, I get hallway conversations peppered with industry news and breakthroughs. On a third, I encounter a community of like-minded individuals who challenge me to do more, learn more and be more. Working from home allows me to craft the type of atmosphere I prefer.
There will be times I feel deeply disconnected from my colleagues. There will be times I miss out on some important piece of information, even if it falls under the category of office chatter. I will not be included in tension-breaker activities like smoothie runs, and I will miss office parties and Cake Day. I’ll have to figure out some ways to surprise myself with a box of sweet potato fries on my desk (thanks, Hong!) or break a long project cycle with something unexpected like a half-day disc golf challenge (are you up for it, Chris?).
I am comfortable in my new routine. I slid into it easily. I am productive in my own way, on my own schedule. I get plenty of fresh air since my office windows open in this building. YES! My car sits idly in the driveway; no more 500mi/week commute (which also means that I have time for exercise). And I get a lot of work done – a lot of work done – even if I don’t have shoes on.