Remember March? That’s the month we all were asked to work from home in India. It was a relief since India was finally realizing its people weren’t immune to a global outbreak. All the positives of work from home were apparent — no commute, flexible routine, no noise in the background while working. People at my company were fairly accustomed to remote work which made the transition smooth. I found myself being more productive. All the VC-money powered start-ups of Bengaluru kept life running delivering everything at my doorstep. Apart from the raging pandemic, everything seemed perfect.
It’s September now. And, I am getting tired of working from home. I am still productive, but as it turns out, productivity is not all I want from a day. I find myself waiting for the day I can return to work in an office, without the fear of coming home with an infection. I still would like to have an option to work from home often, it’s just that I have realized I don’t prefer WFH for such a long stretch. A lot of people I know disagree with me and would prefer to work remotely forever. I respect that, we all have our own preferences.
I have a set routine of WFH and it works well for productivity. It pales, though, in comparison to the work from office routine. If working from the office is like eating at a good restaurant, WFH is airplane food. It might get the job done but leaves me unsatisfied. Many people rightly hate their long and tiring commutes, but I kind of liked it because it was only around 4.5 kilometres. It used to take me around 20 minutes to reach the office from my home in an autorickshaw and since I was not driving, I used to get some reading done in that time. Other times, it was a good time to people-watch. Often, I would just walk all the way back from the office.
Even as an introvert the missing social element in remote work hits me hard, for we introverts too need some necessary bits of human interaction. And unlike more extroverted people, I find forming new relationships and acquaintances in my neighbourhood hard. In the office, it was easy. After work, I would often hang out with a small group of friends and coworkers. In the office, conversations extended to people beyond my own team and group of friends. Theoretically, I can still call my coworkers and have a random chat but it’s not likely to happen as most of our conversations in the office were incidental in nature.
Even in the matter of alone time, I greatly enjoyed my walks home alone from work. I like knowing the neighbourhood, what new stores are opening (even though I would never shop there), and trying out new restaurants for a snack break. And when I did reach home, the same room I am trapped in now felt like the perfect place to finally settle for the night.
Some of my friends tell me that I’ll feel more positive about long-term WFH once the pandemic subsides and we can go out safely again. They are not totally wrong but they are missing one crucial point about my personality — laziness. With an office routine, all the things I miss happened naturally and easily. Dinner plans are made in seconds while exiting the office. In post-pandemic WFH, I’ll have to plan these things out and, worse, act on those plans. Realistically, I know that will rarely happen.
The grass is always greener on the other side. I might write a similar rant about how I miss working from my home once the offices reopen. Maybe, a middle path would work. Now that most of us are used to working from home and maintain productivity, our workspaces will be expected to be more flexible after opening up. It is possible to have the best of both worlds.
Hoping the times of the “new normal” end soon. Good luck to us!