When working from home became living at work

July 3, 2020

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Just a little while back, we talked about how to Covid-19 could affect our future. Nobody could have known the effect it could have had and still has on our daily lives. For many, working from home became the reality we had to get accustomed to, regardless if we wanted or not, health and safety coming above everything else. Now look at us, four tumultuous months later, here we are, in that exact future we were talking about. Things are changing once again, going back to “normal”, as “normal” as they can be after such a period in our lives. And now, rather than looking into what the possible future may look like, let’s reflect on the reality that has been our last months. 

A mishmash of feelings. That’s what it was. Panic, fear, stress, confusion, anger at you know who doing you know what, loneliness, contempt, and maybe content and acceptance that well, we are stuck here, in this situation, for who knows how long. That we were stuck with our families, our roommates or with our pets in our homes, all while trying to keep going with our daily routines. Adapting was the hot word of the moment. And endurance. Because it takes a certain kind of patience and mental strength to endure the long daily meetings for what could have been, as always, an email. To learn,  unlearn and relearn every video conference platform on the earth. To resist the urge to grab another snack. And when it came to it, people started to fall into two extremes, or in my case, alternated between the two.

Some days working from home actually became living at work. We cannot deny the fact that we became much more productive. One day you could be working all day and  being the most productive you have ever been, tuning out the rest of the world, crept up a room, your little safe haven disconnected from everything that is beyond that door;  other days you could be in the other extreme, which is plain disdain even towards the idea of working, not even thinking about actually doing your, refusing to give in to the capitalist ideal of work-work-work even though a literal pandemic is going on outside; and while it is easy to enjoy the serendipitous feeling that comes with ignoring your responsibilities (it’s called procrastination, I know), real life costs money and money comes from your job, so i’m going out on a limb to say that eternal procrastination is not a reality.

Working from home does have its perks, we can’t deny. For me it was beneficial in the sense that I could slow down, take a look at things in a much more detailed way and actually write code that was of quality, not only quantity. Having to only rely on myself puts just the right amount of pressure to grow as a developer. But coming back to the office and interacting with your coworkers has some advantages that are simply not there when you work remotely . Nothing compares to actually arguing face to face about a piece of code that is misbehaving. That water cooler conversation where you diss and gossip can’t be replaced by a private Zoom convo. The decision making process is much quicker, talking face to face isn’t as susceptible to interpretation as written messages are. Asking for help is at an arm’s length. And when the work is done, you can just go on with your life: the work-life balance is better carried out in this case. At home work can easily trickle down into the late hours of the day, transforming it from working at home to living at work, with little breaks and much less time for your private life.

And nobody can, or, even better said, nobody can dictate which one is better or which model people should follow. I would argue that a balance of the two can be the most beneficial, having more independence and flexibility only improving the well-being of any employee. But considering the current state of the world (which is still shit, by the way, at the moment of writing this article), the option of working from home is still the safest option out there.

Work from home or office work? Which one do you prefer? 

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