I find it strange thinking back to the Covid lockdown restrictions. At times, it feels like it all happened a lifetime ago, yet there are times when it feels it was all relatively recently. Either way, the effects of it still loom large, particularly in the workplace.
The organisation I work for continues to adopt a hybrid working approach, though for most employees, this means predominantly working from home. I head into the office on average once per fortnight and that suits me perfectly. It wouldn’t bother me if this was once per month – I’m much better working alone, for many reasons.
Firstly, I’m much more productive. The daily commute takes around 1hr 45mins, from door-to-door. When working from home, that isn’t time I spend in bed each day – it’s time I work. Therefore, over the course of a typical working week, I’m working at least an additional 7 hours compared to if I were travelling into the office. Also, I don’t waste anywhere near as much time talking to people. When I see colleagues in the office, I like to say hello, have a very brief catch-up, then get on with my work – I don’t want to spend half-an-hour talking about that week’s television. I realise that may sound cold-hearted and clinical but it’s the truth. Work is exceptionally busy right now and I need to focus. I simply don’t have time (or the desire) for typical ‘water-cooler chat’.
Additionally, I really don’t buy into the reasoning which suggests people have to be in the office and meet people face-to-face to create truly strong relationships. I’ve built many effective relationships over the past 3 years when talking to people primarily via MS Teams meetings. I acknowledge that there are occasions when face-to-face contact is important, for instance when new starters join the company, or when in-depth planning meetings between numerous stakeholders are required, though I’m yet to hear a truly valid argument to suggest that frequent in-office working is beneficial.
Working from home also suits me from a mental health perspective. When I’ve previously had panic attacks, a high percentage have been in the workplace, or when heading into Manchester city centre during lunch breaks. Holding meetings via MS Teams isn’t ideal (I still hate seeing myself on screen), though I’m no longer quite as conscious of how I look and how others may perceive me. Since Covid started, I’ve only had one panic attack. In the 3-4 years prior to Covid, I had numerous.
I’ve discussed this with a few people and opinions really do vary. Some prefer (and seemingly need) that in-office face-to-face interaction. Others share my view on this and are very happy to work primarily from home. It’s not that I am no longer able to work in a typical office environment – I can and will when required. It’s just that my personal preference is to work alone and in relative solitude. Perhaps that’s why I’m pinning my slim hopes of getting off the corporate hamster-wheel on writing. Not only do I really enjoy it, but it’s the perfect ‘job’ for someone who likes to work alone.
As always, thanks for reading and take care.