Remember at the beginning of all this when it was exciting to work from home? Suddenly, we were doing everything remotely — no commuting, extra hours in our day, and wearing tracksuit pants to meetings was acceptable!
Well for me, the novelty has long gone. Although I'm extremely grateful that I’ve been able to continue working throughout lockdowns, what started as a dream for many of us, has started to feel like a nightmare. Sitting alone in my room all day, at my desk, interacting with coworkers on a screen just doesn’t do it for me anymore.
At this point, I'll happily give up the remaining WFH perks if it means a return to the office. Its absence made me realise just how much I crave social connection and collaboration with co-workers, how much I long for the variety and the purpose it gave to my day.
While I look forward to the future flexibility my employer will offer me now that COVID-19 has shown working from home doesn’t automatically decimate productivity, I still don’t think I will ever choose to WFH fulltime.
I won't exactly say that I'm looking forward to wearing 'hard pants' again and lugging my laptop to and from the office, but I think easing myself back into office-life will actually be refreshing. Granted, being back in the office will likely be a shock to the system at first. Seeing and interacting with people face-to-face again, getting up earlier for the commute, and not having a fully stocked kitchen will likely be an adjustment. It'll definitely take some adapting, however I might just start enjoying the time I spend relaxing at home of an evening again!
Here’s why I’m looking forward to getting back to the office:
Socialising with my co-workers
Conversations around the watercooler, or in our case the coffee machine, is something that we all look forward too – plus the caffeine. Impromptu conversations don’t happen via video calls and messaging, as much as we may try. I’m looking forward to the banter that comes naturally while we’re all sitting at our desks working or having lunch.
I’m that person that can get distracted very easily while working from home. Being in the office instantly makes me more productive because I’m not surrounded by my home life and my brain easily associates the office with work. Everyone else working also encourages, and reminds me, to work. I’m more likely to get lost in my work than distracted.
When in the office I can ask questions to the appropriate person straight away and get an instant answer. I don’t need to send an email or ask if they’re free for a call. I can see if they’re busy, and if not walk up to them and ask.
I’ve tried my best to have good work-life balance while working from home, but the reality is, at least for me, that while my work space is also my home space, the two are never separate. I’m keen for my bedroom to no longer be my office and my loungeroom to no longer be the lunchroom. I’m ready to stop thinking about working once I leave the office and be able to truly relax once at home.
The Third Space
There is a cool concept developed by Dr Adam Fraser, called The Third Space. He talks about our lives being a series of roles or “spaces”. Eg. I play the role of an Administrator at work, and a housemate and friend at home. Fraser talks about how these roles can bleed into each other if there isn’t a definitive “space” between each one. For me, that space is a 20-minute tram ride to and from work. While I may not always enjoy standing on a packed tram, it gives me the opportunity to decompress from a day of work and reset. I can then focus on being a housemate and a friend when I get home, rather than still being in the headspace of an Administrator.
Supporting small business
Many businesses in the city have done it tough throughout the lockdowns, and I’m looking forward to being able to support them in any way I can. I’ll be buying my lunch on the days I’m in the office to give them some business, and so I can have the food I’ve missed over these weeks.
Add some variety to the day
While in lockdown each and every day is almost the same. There’s not much that changes except if I decide to turn down a different street on my daily walk or watch a different show with my housemate. It’s beginning to feel a little Groundhog Day-esque. On days that I’m in the office, I never quite know what will happen. Conversations are different every day, sometimes I’ll do shopping on my lunch break, and I never know what I’ll see on the streets of Melbourne. I’m excited to have more stories to tell people and variety throughout the day.
Before I worked from home, I was sometimes guilty of loathing the daily commute and spending all day 'confined' to an office. But I can guarantee I will never feel that way again (except maybe on those super cold and wet mornings!). WFH has certainly been an experience, and a different experience for each of us. It's made me more aware of what I need out of my day and highlighted how I work best. I’m really looking forward to feeling productive, motivated and social. Getting back into the office can’t come soon enough.