How the past months changed my view on remote work

25 Aug 2020 5 min read
Written by Nicoleta Bîncă, Communications & Marketing Assistant

Before the pandemic, remote work wasn't something I was fond of. Sure, I worked from home from time to time, but only because I had or needed to, not because I wanted to. I always felt I could work better in an office environment - where I could see others work and motivate myself to do the same. The days I worked from home felt unproductive and like I had to trudge myself through them just to get anything done. There was something off about working in the same space where I was used to relax and not think about anything work-related.

Half a year into working from home, I think it's safe to say my perspective has been skewed and I enjoy it much more than I could have anticipated. Here are just a few reasons why it's been a great experience for me, so far.

I have more time and energy at the end of the day.

Not going to the office means less time spent commuting back and forth, which was around two to three hours each day for me. Coming in after work had me feeling drained and with no energy to do much else besides the usual - but not exciting - routine at the end of the day. Rinse and repeat until the weekend when I had some time to myself.

Now, things are a bit different. After I finish work, there's plenty of time to do other things - binge a show, watch a documentary, read a book, play a game, take a walk, (virtually) hang out with friends? All of these become a lot more accessible when evenings at home no longer start after 7 PM.

I have grown into healthier habits.

If there is one thing remote work has given me more time for it's definitely cooking. Beforehand, all I could afford to do was the bare minimum meal or takeout. Now, not only do I have time to properly cook my own meals every day, but also experiment and try out different recipes. This has, overall, allowed me to eat healthier and better.

I have rekindled some hobbies.

It's because I have more free time that I've gone back to doing things I rarely had the energy for before. I started tackling my "to be read" pile of books and realized, by breezing through three in one week, how much I enjoy it. This also gave me up the opportunity to pick up new things to do, like writing, working out, yoga sessions, or even taking a course on coding and trying to learn new things.

I have become even more productive than before.

This was perhaps the strangest part of working remotely for me. I felt like I couldn't come to be as productive at home as I were at the office, but was surprised to learn that wasn't the case. I could get things done just as easily from the comfort of my couch as I did at the office - it just took a bit of getting used to.

One thing that helped me stay on track was setting up a comfortable workspace. This helped me feel more relaxed and like I can take things at my own pace, which ramped up my productivity by a lot (along with, of course, convincing myself to work from a desk as much as possible, as opposed to the comfort of the couch). Another thing that made things easier has been learning to minimize distractions. They are inevitable in an office space where you're surrounded by other people. However, at home, even if they can't be entirely eliminated they can still be minimized and better controlled. Now, whenever I need a few hours to "enter the zone", so to speak, I can mute all chats and concentrate on the task at hand without worrying about interruptions.

I had to (re)learn how to stick to a routine and unplug at the end of the day.

All in all, remote work has been a great experience for me, thus far. However, one thing I've struggled with for a while, in the beginning, has been learning to stick to a routine. How is it that you can follow the same routine for months on an end but just changing one part of it makes it feel like a whole new experience?

I've learned that when it comes to remote work there's a thin line separating work and life. When you're doing both in the same place, that line blurs. It can be hard to stop working when you don't have to go home at 5 PM or start working since you don't need to get prepared to go in at the office. Working from home makes it much easier to roll from your bed to the desk and start working, but also harder to realize when to put an end to it. Having a specific time frame during which I work has helped me not cross this line. I start and finish work every day at about the same time. Admittedly, there have been days where I lost track of time, but I try my best to keep those to a minimum.

As the past months have shown me, remote work works. But like most things in life, it won't suit everyone. It's a big difference to be going from working in an office, surrounded by other people to having to do it at home, all by yourself. Getting used to it takes a bit of time, effort, and proper resources. And while it's great, I won't pretend it doesn't have its downside as well. I do miss the social aspect of going to the office and the spontaneous "watercooler conversations". 

Thankfully, here at XWiki, remote work is already part of the culture, and switching to it has been made easier by the tools provided and the attitude towards it. Video meetings, calls, and staying in touch through various chats don't really replace face to face interactions, but they certainly make the experience easier. In my case, my view on remote work has changed and I've grown so accustomed to it that if I were asked to go back to the office, I'm not sure I'd say yes yet.

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