Working from home is a privilege. I have a job where that works. I can accomplish everything from my home office. I have a home office. I have a fast computer. I have three monitors. I have a speedy internet connection. I have a cat sleeping on the cat tower behind me and he’s snoring. Anyway…
My setup is very different from many other jobs. And what did we call people working hard in these jobs? We called them our “essential workers”. It was nicer to say than blue-collar jobs, perhaps? I mean maybe it included some less-blueish-collars. What it really meant was, “people who couldn’t work from home.”
So I do realize my entitlement here. Working from home is my privilege. And I’ve never felt more grateful to have it.
Flexibility as a working mom
I work full-time and I’m present with my kids. Sure, it’s a bit of a sacrifice for all parties involved (including my spouse who cooks most of our dinners). I try to start my day early, before my kids get up. This works well for connecting with coworkers on the east coast and in Europe.
Then, I get breakfast with my kids.
After cleaning up dishes, my “commute” takes me moments, walking from the kitchen, across the hallway, into the bedroom-turned-home-office. During the school year, I have a short drive taking my kids to school. In the summertime, they’re working on projects in the other room, or with a part-time nanny.
If I need to make it to an appointment? I work it out.
If I have an evening with extra work? I work it out.
If I have a Valentine’s party in my son’s 2nd grade class? I work it out.
The company that I work for embraces this flexibility, allowing us the autonomy to set our schedules and hold ourselves accountable for our work. This better supports diversity, equity, and inclusion, too. Because of it, we have a global team that includes experts in various countries, as well as those whose lives fit better with the flexibility — a military spouse, other working moms, digital nomads, and others.
I have a good home office
In my home office I have several computers, lots of monitors, and good afternoon sun. Pre-COVID, I used to work some of my days at a coworking space, taking my laptop with me. I do miss that. It was aesthetically pleasing, a place to connect with other working women, and even provided on-site, drop-in daycare for my preschooler.
My home office setup is really nice. I have three monitors for my main PC. Call me excessive! I set them all on monitor risers for good ergonomics. Then, I have a separate desktop connected to an old flat-screen TV mounted on the wall. The keyboard for this is on a standing desk. This is where I connect to Linux servers.
Having a separate work space helps me to focus. It also helps me to step away. When work is done, I leave the room. Setting clear work-life boundaries feel even more important to me as a fully remote employee.
My employer was already hiring remote workers
For a lot of people, fully remote work was a totally new thing thrust on them with COVID lockdowns.
For me and my coworkers, we were already doing it.
On an average day, I interact with my boss in Arizona, coworkers in California, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Ukraine, and The Netherlands. We use email and text as well as Slack and Zoom.
I am an optimist
I realize that not everyone finds the joys of working from home during a pandemic. I’ve been through some serious anxiety this last year, especially after we had a 5.7 earthquake last March.
But overall, I try to find the good. I tend to look for the funny, honestly. If I’m uncomfortable, I’ll probably try to make a joke. So I enjoy the connections I have with coworkers online, I feel challenged by my work, and I feel accomplished with well-executed projects.
Plus, the cat keeps me company.
I’m a self starter
Sometimes, it takes some time to get started, sure. That’s human nature. I can excel at procrastinating, if given enough projects to ignore. But I’m armed with task boards.
I do miss the alternatives
I miss the occasional office hours at Starbucks. I used to do that on my Fridays when my daughter had her preschool dance class. And I worked office hours at McDonald’s while my kids played in the play area. Will those ever feel the same again?
I miss my old coworking space (which sadly shut down, but The Ladybird Society was a dream for working moms). And I miss the days they had donuts. 🙂
I miss team retreats, which were really more like intense planning sessions, but being face-to-face every now and then matters.
Some of these things will be back. Some will look different. And I’ll find new ways to work. I’m excited to see what my career and work life will look like in another five years.
A final note on kindness
Those essential workers didn’t have the same safety through this pandemic that I had working from home. I couldn’t raise their wages, or provide them with safety, or make their jobs into something they could do from a home office.
So I tried to be kind where I could. I would wear a mask. It was such a small ask.
I would smile.
I would say thank you. And include something with the thank you. Even if it was, “thank you for my lunch,” at a McDonald’s drive-thru.
And I got vaccinated. I like how President Nelson said it when he got his: “Receiving the vaccine today was part of our personal efforts to be good global citizens in helping to eliminate COVID-19 from the world.”