I got my first taste of working from home early in the pandemic. And it’s not what it’s cracked up to be.
Take, for example, the myth that you can spend all day in your pyjamas. That’s got to be a big no. Not only is there the ever-present threat of a sudden Zoom meeting, but let’s face it, life goes on. You’ve still got things to do that require being fully dressed, not to mention just general professionalism. I just can’t interview without being dressed neatly, even just on a phone call.
Working from home also means losing excuses for eating badly. If you’re addicted to burgers, tacos or food truck food for lunch, being 10 feet from your kitchen and a source of healthy, well-balanced meals kind of makes running out to “just grab a bite” really hard to justify. Those fresh carrots call so much louder when you’re that close. (Luckily, not as loud as the half-eaten cheesecake.)
Related to food, there are also burnt Eggos to consider. I’ve lost count of the number of black discs dumped in the trash because I put them in the oven to toast and then got involved in a story until the smoke detector went off.
Another myth is that lack of distraction makes focusing on your work so much easier. What lack of distraction? A filled bird feeder outside your window is infinitely more fascinating than your office mates unless they happen to like jumping up and down, flitting about and fighting with each other over a particularly juicy seed.
There is. however, less idle chit-chat. Siri is not a particularly scintillating conversationalist: her jokes are lame and her answer to ‘what does the fox say?’ gets boring after the first 100 or so repetitions. Now, you might like talking to your cat. I wouldn’t know about that since I don’t own a cat (or a dog for that matter). However, I am assured that the companionship of a cat comes with its own problems; like adding commentary to articles by walking back and forth across the keyboard.
Speaking of distractions, I live in a nice quiet building. Or you would think so, but being home all day, it is amazing how much traffic there can be on a fourth-floor hallway, or how loud people knock on doors.
A better work-life balance. Oh, for sure. Instead of a 20-minute morning commute, which I used to use to compose editorials, plan my day, etc. I now roll out of bed, get dressed and walk 10 feet across my apartment to my “office.” Doesn’t leave much time for contemplative reflection, let alone working out the tension by yelling at other drivers.
Steve Kidd is the assistant regional editor for Black Press North Division