Working From Home in 2020

January 03, 2021

coast

I have spent about 4 years in the software development industry, and in that time I noticed that working from home has become a bit of a taboo topic.

Some people love it, some hate it, some are completely indifferent.

What “Work from home” is supposed to be

The idea is pretty simple. Folks work from the comfort of their home, connect with their coworkers via Slack, Teams, etc, and collaborate using a slew of modern software.

The idea is that this saves time by avoiding a pesky commute, in-office watercooler chat, and various other time wasters.

On paper this sounds great, right? Who doesn’t want to save time and work more efficiently?

Coronavirus, enter scene

In March of 2020, the Coronavirus knocked the wind out of the majority of the population. Leaving many confused, frustrated, and isolated.

In the tech industry, the answer for many businesses was the most obvious one, “Work from home”.

I think, for most, the first few weeks was a nice reset. You could work without the in-office noise and focus a little bit easier working from the comfort of your couch, desk, etc.

Something is missing

Personally, I tend to make friends with my coworkers and enjoy going to lunch or happy hour with them.

Of course, this does not have to be a standard.

After a few weeks, the charm of working from home started to wear off.

My team still regularly communicated via Slack and Microsoft Teams, but it still never felt quite the same.

It looks different for everyone

Now, let me say that communication looks completely different for everyone, and I honestly believe that some work better and are generally happier when in a permanent work from home situation. To be honest, I thought I would be too.

This was not the case.

As a life-long, self-identifying “introvert”, I started to struggle mentally due to the lack of real human interaction.

For me, texts, slack messages, and the occasional video call did not suffice.

How are industry leaders responding?

This got more interesting as the pandemic went on. I started to read that companies like Twitter were pivoting to having more of their workforce work permanently from home.

To be perfectly honest, this didn’t really excite me.

I am a firm believer in moderation in many things in life, and if this pandemic has taught me anything about my work life, this principle applies here as well.

I am not sure that all of the sleek, time-saving, efficient pieces of software on the planet can ever replace human touch, and I think that is a part of the tech industry we need to hold onto desperately.

It does not have to be one or the other, efficiency, or personal touch.

Moderation is key

So, what is the optimal solution?

In my opinion, a little bit of both is the sweet spot.

It offers employees to have dedicated time away from the occasional in-office distractions, while also keeping the in-person element that I think is vital to keeping a team cohesive.

Like most things, there are exceptions. There are companies that are successfully pulling off a permanent work from home policy and have for years.

The glowing example I can think of is the folks at Basecamp.

One size does not fit all

People are unique, companies are unique, and culture is unique.

Do what is best for you in your position, that is what is most important at the end of the day.

For me, I hope to maintain an occasional separation from the traditional workplace, while keeping the human connection tethered.

Are you loving the permanent remote schedule? Do you hate it?

If you would like to share your story, I would love to hear it.