Working remotely from home has changed how I live. Like most, I used to trek to work and back, wasting two to three hours daily, for years. I left around 7 am and came back around 6:30 pm. Most people follow this regime. At the start of the covid epidemic, I was lucky to switch to working remotely. As a software engineer, I can work from anywhere. Apart from a laptop, I require no specific hardware. I don’t even need auxiliary screens as I like working only on my laptop’s screen — it limits clutter and distractions.
Working from home is not for everyone. I know friends who say they would hate it as they like the changing scenery of working on-site. As a sociable introvert, I love it. I get to have my espresso, take care of my 7 months old daughter, and eat a delicious breakfast, all before starting my workday. When I worked on-site, I would wake up before anyone else in the house, grab a pre-packed mediocre breakfast I did the night before, and rush for the car to beat the traffic as every minute counted. In addition, my workplace had no espresso coffee machine (it had a terrible turbid liquid they called coffee), they lacked a fridge full of goodies, had no pull-up bar to oxygenate my brain mid-day and there were absolutely no windows with natural light.
Today, I am blessed to walk by my daughter whenever I want. I get to experience her best times. If she starts crawling, I am called by my wife to witness! Working on-site, I would have not seen my daughter until the evening, her most fickle time. Fatherhood may have felt like a much tougher call than it currently is. As a work-from-home dad, I get to experience almost every one of her golden moments!
In addition, I love people, but as an introvert, I feel a lot better being in my own space to think quietly about difficult problems. I don’t like being interrupted without control and as a result, my concentration is of much better quality. Should I, midday, feel exhausted by a tough problem, it is a lot easier to take a power nap, rejuvenate my brain, and return to conquer that problem.
One downside of working from home is the severe lack of social bonding. I recently got to meet my coworkers for the first time in person and it was, I believe, really beneficial to my work. My company organized a workday at a hotel in downtown Vancouver. By noon, I was starting to feel a bit guilty. The day was called a workday but everyone was socializing, even the bosses! As a workaholic, it felt weird to be paid to have a social day, but frankly, by the end of it, I believe connecting with coworkers was deeply valuable. I felt a greater sense of connection to my team and company, and that translated to more motivation and enthusiasm at work. My company and its people now felt a lot more personable.
Another downside is the blurred lines between work and personal life. In the evening, if I suddenly realize a possible solution to a problem I was having during the day, I am more likely to open my laptop to test it out. Defining clear boundaries is key to a healthy work-life balance. Except in times of crisis or seasonal busyness, as is typical in most companies, you must learn to clearly separate your work from your personal life. Taking work problems "home" to your evening parenting is not beneficial, to your kids or your job, as you may eventually face burn-out.
To conclude, I do not plan to ever work on-site again. I have tasted the apple of Eden and am loving it. In the future, I expect more software companies to go full remote as they realize the increased productivity they get. I look forward to a world where more people work from home. It will be a world with more family time (if they don't break up at the added pressure!), less environmental footprint and increased quality of life.