How Working From Home Saved Me

Working from home saved me from despair, but I feel for people desperate to return to their offices to work.

Is their life terrible enough that the commute, city streets and noisy environment, appeal more than working from home?

Work is an activity, not a destination.

– Unknown

Over the years, writers have foretold the end of office work; technological advances will give people the freedom to work from anywhere, anytime.

But it has taken the COVID-19 pandemic to fast-track the acceptability of remote working from home even if some employers begrudge it.

Forget about philosophising on God, alien life or how Trump became President. There is a more significant question.

Why was it ever tolerated to bring children to school and adults to work, all at the same time, on the same roads, and create the rush-hour?

The Futility of Rush-hour

Rush-hour is nuts; it pollutes the earth and is avoidable.

Rush-hour is a time suck in which millions of workers lose precious days of life travelling back and forth to work, day in, day out.

My commute was 2½ hours per day, four days a week (one day on average working from home), for 43 weeks a year — 430 hours or nearly 18 days a year.

Let me say it more briefly: I lost 18 days of life a year on the commute.

All to reach a destination and do what I can do working from home.

Private and public sector industries need to embrace the COVID-forced evolution, build trust with their staff and enjoy the improved productivity off-site working affords.

People being present in an office does not guarantee productivity.

When I started a new job in the year 2000 AD, my employer gave me two Windows PCs — one for the office and one for home. At the time, there was only dial-up internet.

While the gesture would save me a 96-mile return trip per day, I couldn’t do it more than once per week, or people would talk.

But I got more done on home days.

Now we’re in a world of broadband, powerful home computers and video conferencing. There is no excuse for insisting on office-only work.

It is a matter of trust.

Working From Home – The Fountain of Life

March 13th, 2021, marked one year since I left the office for what I thought was a long weekend. With over a year into full-time working from home, I have my life back. I feel younger, have more energy, and every day is equal.

Whether I look any younger is debatable.

Before, on the commute, Monday’s were fine; come Friday, I was exhausted. I lived for the weekend. On one particularly rain-drenched day in November 2020, I stared out of the bus window and wondered how much longer I could keep going on the daily drudgery.

It is only now I realise my negative feelings were not because of the job, but the commute.

Recently, I needed to attend headquarters and set off in the car. For the whole journey, I enjoyed lighter lockdown traffic.

But once I arrived, left the multi-storey car park, what were the first things I encountered?

Dog poo, someone’s spit on the footpath and a man coughing into the open.

What else do I avoid when working from home?

– Poorly ventilated public transport
– Shared toilets
– Office distractions
– Polluting the environment
– Wasted travel to meetings
– Calorific sandwiches and crisps for lunch

Organisations need to change, learn how to trust staff, recognise work done and nurture a culture to embrace a hybrid of office-based and remote working.

A hybrid arrangement is my recommended solution.

A hybrid of home and office-based work will give us all opportunities to get things done, brainstorm with colleagues, avoid Zoom-fatigue and commute-fatigue.

Now let’s reflect on something more important: We need to stop and think about the loss of life.

At the time of writing, 2.8 million lives have ended around the world due to COVID-19. Every time I check the source, the number has grown.

All because we interfere with nature.