The Adventures of Working From Home
Where to begin here when it comes to the subject of "working from home". First off let me say that as an IT veteran, I have worked in many different offices in many different scenarios. For example, when I worked at a hospital, the office I worked in was 2 levels under the hospital in the basement. Down there, no windows, no fresh air, and it was very isolated. The doors were thick and heavy when they closed and if you spend enough time down there, you loose track of the daytime and nighttime. Working from home was not an option then. Also I have worked in tall cubicles, short cubicles, I have had my own office, and I have shared offices as well. I have also had a job where my desk was in a big open room with no cover and I have also worked in offices where the furniture was old and others have been brand new. Why am I explaining this? Because after over 25 years of working in various offices, I now work from home 100%. The pandemic changed everything. It exposed the good and bad of office work life. This is where I want to start to dive into this topic. So let me begin.
When the pandemic started a lot office workers made the sudden shift to working from home. It was very challenging at first for many, while others adjusted very quickly. I am not sure how others work or how their business runs, but for us in IT work, the shift was rather simple. I am going to specifically talk about engineers. I know in IT the people who work in the support areas, it was very challenging for them. Other business functions in IT such as finance or project management, it varied how this transition played out. I am an engineer. So I can speak to that. What happened for most of us was almost a blessing. Working from home opened up all kinds of new opportunities and empowered us to work better. How is that you ask? Well working in an office as an engineer, you day can get very busy with not your normal daily tasks, but with problem solving. Specifically problem solving "on demand". What I mean by that is something like this. Let's say you are working at your desk, headphones on, doing your daily tasks. Another member of IT sees you there and they have an issue that needs to be fixed and they need your help. Now they could email you or possibly email or communicate with your boss, but if they see you at your desk the chances are they will just step up to you and ask for help. At that moment the engineer has to stop what he/she is doing and listen to the problem. They can choose to listen, take some information down and say "I will get to this when I have time" and simply go back to their daily tasks. But most of the time the issue is a fire drill and must be addressed. So the engineer now has to divert from their task and address this issue. Few hours later maybe they have it resolved and can move back to their daily tasks. But this repeated pattern usually happens on a daily basis, sometimes many times a day. All this went away working from home. Now engineers don't have this type of complexity to worry about and the result is that the engineer is getting more work done. The metrics on their work has proven this and a lot of management and executives love this result. In return, maybe never returning to the office is a good idea....maybe.
People are more productive working from home than people would have expected. Some people thought that everything was just going to fall apart, and it hasn't
I know a lot of IT professionals would rather work in the office. They need to feel needed or wanted in collaboration type of environments. And that is possibly true but it also depends on the type of work they do for their company. I work in a environment that needs the engineers to collaborate all day long at times, but the engineers are not all located in the same time zone. Working from home has enabled the company I work for to recruit talent from all over the country, not just local to where the office is. I work with people all through out the day in different parts of the country. Using Microsoft Teams, we can meet, discuss and collaborate easily without having to hunt down each other in a office. We get a lot of project work done as we can work on something in the east coast time and as their day ends, the work makes it way to me on the west coast. Normally that work would stop once the east coast team went home. This has enabled the business to assign more work and push the schedule more forward as projects are getting completed in a faster timeline than before. Since this has been going on for more than a year now, the business has no interest in going back to the way things used to be. And I don't blame them. Sometimes people have challenges working from home. Kids, or internet issues, or just straight mental health issues. I know it is not easy. I had to adjust just like everyone else and it was not simple. It took me a while to find my groove and adjust to it all. I even started a new job remotely. That was also very challenging. Blogging about that is going to happen soon here so stay tuned for that.
But the challenges of working from home are not as great as you would think they could be. Electric bill, running your air conditioner, getting home office supplies or furniture, etc. Those costs have incurred on the employees as most businesses did not offer to cover such costs because working from home was supposed to be temporary. My job, like many others does not seem to be heading back to the office. For reasons that are not easy to pinpoint but most likely because the work itself is just getting done faster and better than before. Technology folks have figured this out. We have shared our stories and our challenges and moved forward. I want to do the same here. In my next entry here, I am going to talk about the mental health aspect of working from and how it was a challenge for me to tackle. So check back here for that update. And thanks for reading.