I began working from home two weeks before the first lockdown began in March of 2020. March of next year will mark two full years working from home during the pandemic. I’ve done my job and I have done it well, but I have also experienced high levels of stress, depression, burnout, and to some extent, fear.
I have worked long hours and stayed in touch with my work team via online communication tools such as Microsoft Teams, an application my team actually maintains and supports.
Most of my team is spread throughout the country, with a member or two from around the globe.
Even before working from home, we held virtual meetings, as it’s far too costly to fly our global team to our New York headquarters for meetings.
So why is it that my company and so many others are so eager to get people back in the office when we all know the world isn’t really ready for it yet? Why are so many managers willing to potentially put themselves and their employees at risk for this in-person collaboration that never took place in my normal daily work life? At my work, in-person meetings only ever happened once or twice a year, and consisted of eating pizza in a conference room and generic water cooler chitchat.
This isn’t a debate of whether to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. This is about witnessing the news and what is going on in the rest of the world and wondering why are we so eager to get back to what we refer to as “normal life.”
If things are still working, employees are still doing their jobs, and in some cases such as mine, doing their jobs much more efficiently...what is the rush? Why not let things continue as they are and give a little more time for the dust to settle?
I speculate perhaps employers want to justify the cost of currently empty real estate, or this comes from upper management types who miss rubbing shoulders with folks back in the office.
At my level rarely does it pay to be in the office. You are in meetings for sometimes over 12 hours a day, typically with people from all over the planet. When I am in the office I can be sidetracked by random nearby conversations. A few months ago, I popped into the office just for a change of scenery, not expecting anyone else to be there.
As it turned out, four other people all within a row or two of my desks were also there. I was reminded of the chaotic environment I once spent over 10 years working in.
People all around talking loudly on calls of their own or walking up to your desk, and the constant distractions.
I feel if I have done my job for two years remotely and have more often than not done it well, then why should I at any point be forced to go back to an environment that actually makes me less productive? I’d love to hear some of your opinions on this, so please send your comments.