working from home is making a lot of people miserable

We traditionally tend to think of working from home as a perk. You can do your laundry while you work. You can stay in pajamas and control your own thermostat. You can take the dog for a walk. But after being abruptly forced to work from home full time this year, a lot of people have discovered they don’t like it nearly as much as they thought they would.

Of course, working from home in the midst of a highly stressful global crisis is different from doing it in normal times, especially if you add in the stress of child care. But a surprising number of people have been surprised by how eager they are to return to their offices once it’s safe to do so — and that’s what I wrote about at Slate today. You can read it here.

{ 256 comments… read them below }

  1. Haley*

    I feel like it should be pointed out that this not “normal” work from home, but work from home under duress, while maintaining childcare, in a pandemic. It’s not the same thing! I’ve been working from home for a decade and this year is decidely not the normal WFH experience.

    1. Yet Another Consultant*

      Agreed! I’ve been working from home for a few years and this year is completely different. For me, normal WFH is a great mix of being in person when there’s a need but at home the rest of the time, where you can be more flexible with your schedule and have as much interaction in your day as you want (in person or online).

    2. SuperDiva*

      This! I was working from home for almost a year when this started, and I loooooved it. Now I wish I had an office to escape to! My spouse and kid are at home with me, I can’t go work at a coffeeshop or the library, I can’t even run errands normally. It’s just not at all the same.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        Yep, I have been fully remote for years and loved it until this year. It’s so stressful having the kids at home and other adults here when before it was blissfully quiet all day while I worked with no interruptions other than the occasional package delivery. The last 6 months have been painful and unpleasant WFH days where I can no longer concentrate and it’s so hard to focus and get anything done. I hope all the people working remotely for the first time that have others in the home with them don’t think this is how it actually feels to work remotely for most people.

        1. Megumin*

          I know exactly what you mean. I was WFH for several years before my most recent job, and I was about to ask permission to do 2 days a week WFH when the pandemic hit. I was very successful doing WFH, but this year has just been a nightmare. Even on the rare days when my partner can take off and take care of the kids, I’m so burned out from the stress that I can’t summon the brainpower needed for doing anything except the most mundane of tasks. My brain has been conditioned to be interrupted every 5 minutes because the kids are here all day.

          1. Carlee*

            I disliked working from home (which I only ever did occasionally pre-pandemic, while contractors did repairs, awaiting delivery of appliance, spouse recovering from minor surgery that made it hard to walk, etc) and I extra-super dislike it now.

            FWIW, I’m grateful spouse and I *can* work from home (and will be until next summer, *sigh*). But it’s not just working from home that grates, due to the pandemic, the nature of my work has changed completely – the negotiations I loved (and travel) are no more. Instead, I’m working doing much more technical legal work.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        I haven’t noticed a difference, but I also don’t have kids I’m trying to babysit or teach in addition to doing my job. WFH pre-pandemic wasn’t the same in that way for parents and I do think expecting them to teach their kids is simply way too much and it’s not realistic long term. The world was not prepared for the unavailability of schools.

        I still prefer WFH to the open office and hot desking office we had though. I really hated that. And all the fakey-fake social activities work would do. Just, ugh! I don’t go to work for the social life, and I’m always kind of perplexed by people who say they love that stuff. I’d be happy if I never saw a potluck again.

        Oh, and shared work bathrooms! Don’t miss those. Notice we haven’t had any of those letters on here in months! LOL!

    3. UKDancer*

      Definitely. Pre-Pandemic I used to work from home about 1-2 days per week and enjoyed it as a change and a chance to get my head down and then perhaps get to the local shops or my nails done.

      This is completely different from working from home during the lockdown 5 days per week when you can’t go out, there’s nowhere to go and the shops, theatres etc are shut. It’s a little better now things are open again but I still feel reluctant to go out.

      I don’t miss the commute into London but I do miss my colleagues and the chance to speak to people in person or go for coffee. I think I’d prefer to be in some of the time but am not yet convinced it’s safe enough so I’m at home for now. My company has been very supportive and encouraged staff to do what they feel comfortable with.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. Although I’m fortunate in that I can still exercise outdoors and that my son is at school for now. This may change, though, some schools in our district have had cases of COVID and are back in remote school.

        I don’t feel safe yet going to the office on public transit. I’d much rather WFH than work with a mask on all day. I haven’t found one yet that doesn’t itch or make me anxious.

    4. Christina*

      Yes, this, 100%. I worked from home at my last job, loved it, and have been a big proponent of being able to do it with my current job, but this has been so, so hard. Before, I had the option of meeting a colleague at the office for a meeting or for lunch, working at a coffee shop if I needed a change of scenery, could go to the gym during lunch, or even being able to trust that my upstairs neighbors wouldn’t also be home all day, every day sounding like they’re walking on my head. Now, none of that is the case.

    5. Quill*

      Yes, like… it’s not miserable because we’re at home, it’s miserable because there’s a pandemic and we have no normality, no social life, no relief from extremely stressful and ad-hoc business adjustments. For many of us, during a time of political instability as well.

      1. inksmith*

        Personally, I’m miserable because I’m at home. I was miserable doing odd WFH days before this, and I’m miserable doing it now. Sure, it’s not helped by the pandemic, but I feel like a lot of people are pushing the argument that no, we’d love WFH full-time if there wasn’t a pandemic, and for a lot of us, it’s not true.

        1. Gaia at home*

          While I appreciate no longer spending 2 hours a day in the car- and I do feel better about lowering my carbon footprint- I feel as though I’m drowning in loneliness. I always drew energy from the collaboration and new ideas I got from talking to coworkers. I started a new job just before the pandemic and I can’t seem to get to know my new coworkers either on a business or personal level. My superior has indicated my work is more than adequate, but I feel I can’t get a grip on things without talking it through and that option is no longer available to me. I’m easily distracted at home, but also feel as though I am never not at work. I’ll get an email at 2am and I’ll answer it, because chances are, I was already working on something. We’re all trying, but it’s not the same meeting people on a zoom call and then seeing them online for an hour once a week. I feel isolated and lost.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      100% this. I don’t understand why people consider this to be WFH. It’s like force-feeding someone the most delicious tiramisu while punching them in the stomach. “Oh? So this is what eating tiramisu is like?” I mean, okay… extreme example maybe but the same principle applies. This isn’t what WFH is like.

    7. Third or Nothing!*

      Yeah, I’ve had the chance to WFH in the past and I always loved it. I still love not having a commute, or dealing with my snarky clique of coworkers, or having to wear a jacket and gloves because I work in a deep freeze apparently, but I really really miss daycare. And going places. And seeing people. If these were normal times, and I was WFH full time, I’d be able to go hang at my favorite local tea shop for an afternoon while working on a project that doesn’t need two screens. Or I’d be able to meet a friend for lunch. Or run errands. Or even meet my BFF who works from home and make our own little mini coworking space so we can hang out and work at the same time for a day.

    8. Megumin*

      One of the top directors in my division keeps saying how “great” WFH is working out for all of us, and how pleased upper mgmt is with our performance during WFH. I guess that’s a good thing, but she keeps talking about it like they decided to run a test pilot of WFH, instead of the fact that we were forced to do it out of necessity. It bothers me because 1) I’m not doing great working from home 2) I’m afraid the people who are not doing well with WFH during this time will be unfairly compared to our colleagues who are performing well, and we’ll be penalized.

    9. chewingle*

      Allison did point that out in the article, but I do think we can’t stress it enough. NOTHING about this is normal.

      I’d also like to point out that working in an office makes plenty of people miserable as well (especially if it’s an open office). But I feel like complaints about it are less frequent than these COVID WFH complaints because working on-site is the status quo, and we’re expected to just suck it up and adhere to the status quo.

      The thing is, different people work differently under all sorts of conditions. My entire team is thriving from working from home (I’m the only one with a child, so that probably helps as far as the rest of the team is concerned). As far are getting to know coworkers, this is also something I had to do remotely, since the office I work at is located in a different state than the rest of my team. It was certainly more challenging, but weekly Zoom calls helped a lot with that.

      That isn’t to say I don’t empathize with the people who are having issues. But I do fear it’s going to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths about what working from home is really like…and that it’s going to ruin WFH opportunities for those of us who enjoy it and are good at it. Hopefully I’m wrong, though.

    10. Momma Bear*

      Right. When I last WFH my child was in school full or part time. My day was getting the kid out the door, doing work in a quiet home, and retrieving my child in the late afternoon. There were parks to play in and friends to hang with and errands to run. Today my kid’s teacher apologized for the poor video quality because their son was doing online testing that was eating up the bandwidth. Many of us are assisting our children while also trying to work, possibly with other adults working from home, while also trying to figure out how to get things done with the limitations of COVID.

    11. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Such a good point.

      I have been WFH for several years, but this is a whole new thing, not least because I’ve gained “colleagues” including three children when school was remote, and one spouse who has taken over my office.

      I WFH very very well when I am on my own in my own dedicated space.

      I am losing my mind, possibly literally.

    12. NBGB*

      Exactly! If I was able to socialize and travel normally and participate in all my usual non-work activities, I would love to work from home permanently. For me, i’s not just work from home right now, it’s everything else that goes along with it in this current pandemic situation. That’s not to say everyone should love WFH normally, but I bet it’d be a lot more positive and beneficial of a situation for many more people during non-pandemic times. I realize everyone’s situation is different and we all have different work styles and needs.

      The transition wasn’t handled well by some companies and some managers don’t know how to manage well, which is causing additional stress and problems for some employees. I had a lot of additional anxiety for months when things were changing quickly – we’re working from home, now we’re on site, but wait now we’re only on site half a week, rotating days and spaces, wait – back remote, now coming in full-time. It was rough. And even though I am in the office full-time now (not by choice), it’s not the same. Half of my co-workers are still working from home and we still video chat for every meeting, even with the person in the office next door. There’s not really any point to being here, especially since we’re not public-facing. It’s just wasting time, energy, and money and causing additional stress.

      1. Alex*

        We actually had the WFH/Covid situation push us over the edge to move to a new place which is further out from town, and about 600$/month more expensive than before – but it has double the space, an extra bedroom, double the size for the living room, and a sizeable balcony. (Right now we’re in a 1.5br souterrain without any outside area at all).
        We started to accept the fact that our lives will – for the forseeable future and a bit over that I presume – happen mostly at home, and all the escapes that the city living have traditionally provided us are gone at the moment, and might be for months and years to come. We now prepare to be able to enjoy living in our own home much more comfortably – using the budget that we usually spent going out.

        We also have built a sizeable bar during the lockdown, so when having people over is okay again, we most likely will invite people to cocktail night at our place, instead of going to a bar/club for it…

  2. Elenia*

    OMG I love that you understand this. I was so happy to go back to work three days a week. I don’t mind working from home the other two days, it’s relaxing but every day is just a misery.
    Everybody acts like it’s such a perk to work from home and i’m like – great. I get to finance my work’s power, electricity, phone bill, I use my own laptop because we don’t have any money to buy my own, I have no access to the share drive, everything has to be prearranged (no spontaneous chats), and I just hate it.
    I left my old job partially because it was work from home full time. And I fear this is the way companies are going to go. Why pay for office space when you can just force your employees to shoulder all of these additional burdens?
    Ugh! At least this job we own the office so there’s not a lot of chances of completely getting rid of it.

    1. Hush42*

      This is exactly how I feel! Before I had the option to work from home in an Emergency or when we got a huge snowstorm and I didn’t want to drive in the huge amounts of snow. I always figured I might like working from home better but in general I dont. I recently bought my first home and ill now be responsible for heating and electric for the first time. I was hoping to be back in the office by the time I moved in (I closed in June but it was a fixedr upper and I STILL working on it) because I don’t want to have to pay to heat my house up to habitable temperatures during the day when I could just have my company pay to heat the office and work from there. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like we’ll be going back until January at the earliest so I’ll have a few months of paying for utilities with me in my house full time. Normally my company would let me come back early if I really wanted to. However, before COVID hit I shared an office with another manager, and with COVID sharing an office is no longer feasible and his job requires that he be there in person which means I can’t be. We were also in the process of renovating and moving to a new floor which will allow me to have my very own office (hallelujah) Unfortunately those renovations are taking longer than anticipated so who knows when I’ll actually get to go back.

    2. myswtghst*

      The equipment is such an overlooked piece of this, especially for those where the setup was intended to be temporary. If remote work is done right, it should involve the employer working with the employee to ensure they have what they need to be successful (including a laptop, at bare minimum), and an employee who wants to work remotely.

      Pre-pandemic, I was WFH 2-3 days per week, so with the money I save from not commuting (and a little help from my software engineer brother), I set myself up with a pretty nice workspace in a spot where I’m not likely to be disturbed (too much). I have a comfy chair, a second monitor, and space for my supplies.

      My cousin, on the other hand, ended up with two adults and three children all on various devices together at the dining room table, in chairs not meant to be sat in for hours on end, interrupting each other and just making things generally miserable for everyone.

      1. NBGB*

        I completely agree about the equipment and set up. There’s no way I could do my job with any efficiency if I had to work from only a laptop screen. I need at least one, if not two, regular size monitors and desk space to work on. This is where companies really need to step up and ensure employees have what they need to do their jobs. We’re how many months into this thing, there’s no excuse for companies to not help with this, especially if they’re considering permanent or part-time WFH options for employees.

        I really struggled with utilities while WFH during the summer. I either had to run my AC almost constantly or be sweating the entire day, which is not good for video meetings or concentration, especially in the afternoon. But I had zero commuting and parking expenses and I really valued the extra time and flexibility that came with it. It’s really difficult for me to compare things that doesn’t have the same value structure. Like money for utilities and commute versus being able to, say, go for a walk before work without waking up an hour earlier.

        What I hope comes out of all this for WFH is that companies and managers see that it is doable and give their employees options that work for everyone and the job requirements and address issues individually.

        1. TardyTardis*

          I hear you about laptop screens. I’m one of those people with Fast Eyes, and I’m not happy unless the refresh rate is at least 75mhz, but my laptop tops out at 60, and I can, actually, see the minimal flicker and it tires my eyes out something fierce. For some reason at work the IT guy thought I was insane, but upped the refresh on the regular monitor anyway just to humor me.

          But this laptop is arrgh even with a good antiglare filter.

  3. Not So Super-visor*

    This is 100% me. I thought that I’d love working from home. I was dreading having to go back to train new employees. After returning, I’ve found that I missed the structure of being in the office even with all of the COVID19 precautions in place (masks on whenever you’re not in your office or have people in your office, breakroom restrictions, etc). I’ve been way more productive since returning to the office. We’re looking at a hybrid model going forward.

  4. Ray Gillette*

    I feel this deeply. At first I was excited, but the novelty wore off after about a week. My commute was 30 minutes on a good day, and I was looking forward to having the time back to do other things. Instead, I find that I’m working during that time, which is in many ways worse. At least when commuting I can mostly turn my brain off. Part of it’s a workload issue – many of our clients are also switching to remote work, and their requests are becoming more numerous and more desperate as they try to keep their own businesses running. And part of it’s compartmentalizing – in an office, if something comes in 5 minutes before I leave, I can send the client a quick note letting them know I’ll get to it tomorrow. But at home, with nowhere to be, I usually just take care of it because otherwise it’s just one more thing to do tomorrow.

    1. Elenia*

      Yes, I love my commute. So my husband works from home. And my work is extremely social. I love it – but that commute time was my time to be alone, my time to decompress. My husband is always home and I rarely get the house to myself, and I’ve accommodated this too, but I have a 30 minute commute and losing that hour of alone time really stressed me out.

      1. Should be grateful (?)*

        Me too. It sounds crazy, but I never realised how much a commute helps the mental switch, like I go from “home mode” to “work mode” during the train ride. This also helps me compartmentalise the time better, so that I stop thinking of emails after I get home.

        Now, work and home time are so blended together, I never feel as if I can stop thinking about work.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          I know this may sound facile, but I’ve found that a nice way to separate the home mode to work mode is to simulate a commute. Get up from your desk and take a walk immediately after work. Or, if you’re like me and wear pajama pants all day and don’t want to be seen in public (and have the space), putter around in the backyard or just sit and read/listen to an audiobook out back for 30 minutes before “coming home”.

          1. Not A Girl Boss*

            I’ve been doing this too. Since I stopped commuting, I was getting hopelessly behind on Podcasts, and didn’t realize until I lost them how much I valued that mental stimulation that was different from work. I loved the chance to learn new things, and it helped me relax and disconnect from my work brain.

            So, I started going for a 20 minute walk with headphones in listening to podcasts, and it was great. But now, the weather is getting less great and its getting easier and easier to just skip it this one day… I might start going to sit in my car in the driveway and listen to podcasts, lol.

    2. Not So Super-visor*

      Yes! When I was at the office FT, once I left for the day, I was switched off unless I had something really urgent and then fired up my laptop later that night. When I was WFH, I kept thinking of all the things that I should do just because they were there.

      1. Should be grateful (?)*

        Same for me too. And I suspect same for my colleagues, because I am getting more emails from them during off office hours than ever before. It’s getting unhealthy

    3. NeverNicky*

      I think pre-Covid people thought of WFH as a ‘perk’ for a couple of reasons: the people doing it were generally a self-selecting bunch (like me) and so were suited to it, and happy with the set up, and secondly for the reasons you mentioned – the better work/life/chores balance.

      Now, people are forced into WFH, they have a lot more external stressors, they might not have the equipment they are used to. Even though I’m used to WFH my routine is upset – the kitchen is off limits at times as it’s my partner’s office and there are sensitive calls; events I’d go to in person are virtual or cancelled; I can’t flex my time like I could because of increased workload.

      I’m lucky, my colleagues have on the whole have adapted well to remote working. My partner’s (and my partner) – not so much (hence the sensitive calls). He cannot wait to go back to office working but his org has been inflexible and will not even plan to plan to return despite differing situations in their worldwide locations. With other orgs re-opening, their claim “no one ever resigned because they had to WFH” is about to get tested …

      1. many bells down*

        Our microwave kills the wifi for some reason, so our kitchen is “off limits” during important meetings. He microwaves a curry and suddenly I’m booted out of the 100+person event I’m the host for.

          1. Tired of Covid-and People*

            I was today years old when I learned this. Wow. I have a dedicated office, never work around the microwave, but I’ll keep this in mind. Wonder if it affects wifi on the phone.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            Interesting – I’m working from my kitchen was having terrible wifi problems until my spouse slapped a personal wifi adapter dohickey into one of my USB ports. No issues since. I wonder if it was the microwave? I’d not connected the two, and my only issue with it is that he and the kids seem to enjoy running it (or the freaking garbage disposal!) while I’m speaking with my boss.

          3. Zombeyonce*

            Apparently not anyone’s because I’ve never experienced this issue in a house with multiple adults using a microwave while I’m working online.

            1. Chinook*

              It may depend on the age and quality of the microwave. I remember when they came out decades ago that they would interfer with tv reception and you could feel it in your fillings. I am guessing newer ones either use less powerful waves or have a better container to block the waves.

              1. Pennalynn Lott*

                My microwave intereferes with Bluetooth signals. I have a portable Bluetooth speaker that I carry around with me in the morning so I can listen to NPR while feeding the pets, making tea, etc. Turn the microwave on, though, and it sounds like a 1990 cell phone conversation: “Th— uh —-st —- bah —- cr —- fire —- ep…”

            2. many bells down*

              Yeah we’ve never had this problem before either, even with the same microwave in a different house.

          4. RiverRose*

            Source? I’ve never heard this, nor have I ever had any issues with internet while using microwave.

            1. Pennalynn Lott*


              “Wireless devices often lose Internet connectivity whenever the microwave oven is running. Here’s why it happens and what you can do to fix it.

              “The problem is that both microwave ovens and Wi-Fi operate on the same frequency, 2.4 GHz. In theory, a properly shielded microwave shouldn’t leak any radiation, but the reality is that they leak quite a bit, resulting in electromagnetic, or radio-frequency (RF), interference. And yes, Wi-Fi is a radio signal, but it’s broadcasting on a much higher frequency than most broadcast radios operate on.

              “This interference at 2.4 GHz can be caused by common 802.11b and 802.11g wireless devices, like routers, along with Bluetooth devices, baby monitors, cordless telephones, video senders, and microwave ovens. Other sources of interference can include toaster ovens, electric blankets, ultrasonic pest control devices, electric bug zappers, heating pads, and touch controlled lamps.”

            2. Pennalynn Lott*

              I posted a not-as-disguised-as-I-thought link, so it’s in moderation. But this is part of what the article says (and, also, it was a super easy Google search):

              “Wireless devices often lose Internet connectivity whenever the microwave oven is running. Here’s why it happens and what you can do to fix it.

              “The problem is that both microwave ovens and Wi-Fi operate on the same frequency, 2.4 GHz. In theory, a properly shielded microwave shouldn’t leak any radiation, but the reality is that they leak quite a bit, resulting in electromagnetic, or radio-frequency (RF), interference. And yes, Wi-Fi is a radio signal, but it’s broadcasting on a much higher frequency than most broadcast radios operate on.

              “This interference at 2.4 GHz can be caused by common 802.11b and 802.11g wireless devices, like routers, along with Bluetooth devices, baby monitors, cordless telephones, video senders, and microwave ovens. Other sources of interference can include toaster ovens, electric blankets, ultrasonic pest control devices, electric bug zappers, heating pads, and touch controlled lamps.

          5. Seeking Second Childhood*

            There is a brilliant XKCD webcomic about a winning a video game because the other person is using a wireless mouse and someone ran the microwave

          6. Ernestine*

            Our old (but not that old- purchased circa 2010?) microwave killed the wifi in the kitchen, but our current one does not.

          1. nonegiven*

            It doesn’t interfere in the same room as the router, but if you’re in the other end of the house, the microwave is between it and the router so if it is in use, you have no signal in that room.

      2. Ray Gillette*

        Yeah. And under normal circumstances, I think I’d enjoy it a lot. But with everyone struggling right now, it makes all the other aspects of work that much harder. Some of our clients (thankfully not that many) have entirely suspended operations or closed down entirely due to the pandemic and many others have had layoffs and are struggling with the hit to their business. So our goal is to keep as many of them operating as well as possible to keep our own business running. And that means that “go the extra mile” has become the new normal.

  5. aett*

    I definitely find myself stressed more often during work hours on account of my two kids – pre-K and fourth grade – having online classes AND they each have additional online therapy sessions (occupational, speech, autism behavioral, etc.) on top of that. Fortunately, we have a family member who can help with the younger kid and she takes that kid to her house for a few hours each day to keep things a little calmer.

    That said, I never want to return to the office if I can help it. I hate, hate, hate commuting to work, even at the best of times. I’m lucky enough that my job has a fair amount of downtime between assignments, which is torture in the office but wonderful when I’m at home. Of course, it seems like my kids have crises exactly when one of my managers calls me or when I have an urgent assignment to complete, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.

    My kids’ schools are going to be reopening the classrooms to anyone who chooses to go back, but we’re not at all comfortable with that. However, if I could continue working from home in a post-COVID future and have my kids out of the house for several hours a day, I would be in heaven.

    1. whew*

      I completely agree with you. I’m in a very similar boat, except my kids are are a bit younger. I worked from home pre-COVID and loved it. With the kids around, it’s incredibly stressful. Also, online therapy sessions are such hard work. I’m exhausted after each session. We’ve done OT and PT online so far and have speech starting up soon. But only one of my kids is in therapy. I can’t imagine two sets of therapy appointments.

      1. aett*

        Fortunately, my younger kid (who has OT, PT, and Speech) has her sessions immediately after her relatively-brief class, so we just go from one to the other. My older kid has to have dedicated time with his aide after lunch so that he can complete all his class work and, if they have time, his homework, and then he has therapy a few hours later, which is hard for him to do that late.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      We also have special needs kids that require more monitoring/schedule juggling; however, it’s so much easier to do than when we were doing all this and commuting. My children are older but require monitoring to stay on-task and in class, which I can easily do from one room away. I had a special ed meeting this morning via zoom, and it was fantastic to just be able to mark that time as busy, take the meeting, and go right back to work without having to take a full day off and shuffle everyone to this place or another. I’d imagine OT is much tougher to do virtually, but we’re doing med management and therapy by zoom, and I’ve half-joked with my boss that I’ve no intention of ever coming back to the office. I will happily stay home so that those who want the office time can be there in a safe and socially-distant manner!

      1. aett*

        You’re absolutely right about the parent meetings. My wife was able to do a 4/80 schedule so she would set up various parent meetings/doctor’s appointments/etc. on her days off, but for anything that she couldn’t do or if both parents were needed, I would have to take off so much time. The difference in our amount of leave hours was massive.

        And yeah, some of these things are definitely harder to do online – my daughter was great in-class but is such a goof-off now that her family is around and the teacher is someone on a tiny screen.

  6. Odyssea*

    I just learned last week that we won’t be reopening until at least January, and that’s only if things stay under control around here. I’m a huge introvert and home body, so I thought I’d enjoy working from home, but I only get to do the parts of my job I liked the least and none of the parts I enjoyed. Now that I know it’s going to be at least another couple months, I’m really having trouble with it. I’m grateful I’m still working and getting paid, because I know a lot of people in my organization aren’t, but having a firm date just really made it hit home that it’s going to be at least 9 full month before I get back.

  7. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

    Really good article.

    I’m privileged to have my child largely out of the house during the day while I’m working from home (he’s with a friend in his class doing online learning from another location). And even so the pandemic is a mental strain.

    And, for me, I’d rather be in the office. I want the break from home. I like to be able to work from home sometimes, but not as the default.

  8. Amanda*

    Ok but some of us love it and have a hard time understanding why our coworkers want to go back. My husband is dreading going back to the office – he loves working from home and it’s technically still permitted but his colleagues are pushing really hard for everyone to return. He’s got some medical issues that he’s been able to accommodate in wfh without having to disclose them to his boss (we are in Germany and requesting disability accommodations would likely bar him from advancement) and he’s a introvert and has thrived at home. There’s no reason to go back to the office – it’s not even safe! – but if they do, the only reason will be coworkers who missed the office. I really feel like some
    of this (obviously not all) is just management not understanding how to manage (and keep work relationships strong) virtually.

    1. Elenia*

      My boss thankfully is 100% open to: anyone who wants to stay home, stays home. It should not be an all or nothing – as a matter of fact, we have staggered schedules too.

    2. Dan*

      Well, some of us live in an apartment, and my dining room table hasn’t been available for dining since March. So for me, large parts of this are logistical. If I’m going to *never* return to the office, then I really need to move into a larger space that’s going to cost me more money, because my current setup isn’t sustainable for ten to twenty more years.

      1. aunt bop*

        Exactly. My living room has been rearranged and a piece of furniture that belongs in the living room is now awkwardly in the bedroom. I bought a chair that’s less comfortable than I expected, so I’m considering a different chair but then that leaves me with logistical problem of having to find a home for the current chair, then a home for the replacement chair once we finally do go back. I’m not going to be able to sit at this tiny cramped desk for another 20 years

        1. many bells down*

          UGH the chair problem. I can’t go in the store and sit in all of them, so I had to guess and order one, and I hate it. I bought one of those ergonomic gel butt cushions and it’s almost worse with it.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Yikes. We were very lucky that our work allowed us to come in and take whatever we needed to WFH. I took the ergo chair.

            1. many bells down*

              I could take a chair from work, but someone already took the one I usually use. A little miffed about that; I hope I get it back when we’re back in the office.

      2. Liz*

        Same. My DR table IS my office. My state is still under stay-at-home orders, with no anticipated back to the office date. Prior to this, i actually hated working from home. Now? I’ve gotten used to it after almost 7 months. I still have days where I am pretty unproductive, like today, and only manage to get the bare minimum done, and others where I am VERY productive. I look at it as a balance.

        moving for me isn’t an issue so I just have to muddle on.

    3. NW Mossy*

      In my org, the vast majority of people love WFH and never want to come in again. They had a practice of WFH 1 or 2 days a week already so they’ve got the whole dedicated-space thing worked out. Many also live alone or only with other adults, so no conflicts there either.

      Under similar circumstances I would love it too, but unfortunately, that’s not my life.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        I LOVED WFH so much that I negotiated to have it permanently when I switched jobs mid-pandemic…. and now I’m loving it significantly less, but also really can’t move to new-job location anytime soon.

        A few things changed:
        1) When I loved WFH, I was the only one home all day. Compared to the office, it was quiet, peaceful, and so full of natural light. Plus, I had unlimited access to my espresso maker. Now, my husband is home a few days a week and we have new neighbors with 6 kids who scream and stomp around all day, so its just not quite as peaceful. Plus my dogs have gotten more used to me being home, and are more demanding about barking to be let out etc.
        2) When I loved WFH, everyone else was also WFH. So it was natural to collaborate with everyone on the team remotely, and we had some more unstructured chatting time during every meeting. Now, I am the only one who is home and they are all back in the office. I miss out on so much – impromptu hallway collaborations, trying to participate on conference calls when I’m the only person not in the room, and not being able to see the white board. Sometimes I’d give anything to just spend 5 minutes at someone’s desk instead of 45 dealing with Teams calls, trying to see over video camera, etc. Plus I just miss being social. My coworker got engaged and I didn’t find out for 2 weeks because I wasn’t around to notice her ring or overhear the excitement.

    4. aunt bop*

      It’s easy for me to understand why some people don’t want to go back (even though I am eager to), so I’m curious as to why it’s difficult for you to understand why others do want to (when safe, of course).

      1. Threeve*

        As Amanda said, “colleagues are pushing really hard for everyone to return.” I’m in the same boat.

        I don’t care if colleagues work from home or not, but to make decisions for the group just because our CEO thinks “we all want to see everybody’s smiling faces again!” is…nope. I don’t get it.

        1. aunt bop*

          I was responding to this part of the comment:
          “have a hard time understanding why our coworkers want to go back.”

          That is much different than the part you’re referring to.

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I would happily work full-time remotely for the rest of my career, if I can pull it off. But my kids are out of the house, I live in an area with low RE costs, I don’t have a romantic partner wanting to move in with me and do not plan on having one that would. So I’ll always have a better office space at home than I would at work. I totally get it that not everyone is in my same situation, and that some people want to go back for very valid reasons. As long as they don’t demand that I go back to the office with them, I’m okay with them being there as much as they want, for as long as they want.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        So I’ll always have a better office space at home than I would at work.

        I could live in a refrigerator box and that’d still be true.

    6. Pennalynn Lott*

      Put me on the “Don’t Go Back” list.

      I mean, maybe one day a week? But I do *not* miss having to get up at 5:30 every morning to get my pets fed and medicated, and get me dressed (which includes makeup, grr), then spend an hour in traffic, walk the half mile from where I can park to the elevator bank inside the building, and hope like hell my butt is in my seat by 8:00 AM.

      But my ex finally moved into his own place in May, so now it’s just me, my mom (who keeps vampire hours), and the pets. It’s a 3-bedroom house with two living areas so I have the space for a fairly proper home office: dual monitors, sit/stand desk, comfy adjustable “work station” chair, etc.

      I also have a big backyard for living in a city (15,000 square feet) that backs up to a forested creek area, so I can take breaks and walk around outside without having to make sure I’m presentable.

      I do miss some of the face-to-face interactions with my co-workers but, post-pandemic, I could get that with just one day a week in the office.

      1. allathian*

        Put me on the don’t go back list as well. Okay, occasionally I get the urge to be social, but I think I would be perfectly happy with working 1 day a week at the office and the rest from home. Before I got this job, I worked what was essentially a zero hours contract for another employer (I switched careers and that job provided enough experience for me to get my current one) and I was WFH permanently 15 years ago, when very few people in ordinary employment did it. I never even met my manager. We talked once or twice on the phone, but otherwise we handled everything by email and I just invoiced them for hours worked and provided a timesheet. When I first started my current job, I really enjoyed the fact that I had coworkers to socialize with.

    7. MagicUnicorn*

      I love WFH (it was never an option for me before), and while I can understand how my extroverted boss is going bonkers without seeing everyone face to face daily, I really wish she would take a moment to internalize the fact that the way she feels right now is the way I felt going in to the office in normal times. Daily. For decades.

    8. MissDisplaced*

      More like trying to FORCE everyone to go back.
      Hey, I get that WFH is more difficult for some. But don’t force the office on everyone just because you hate WFH.

  9. Dr of Labratoria*

    My husband is back to working from home since our state’s cases are skyrocketing. This time, we’ve moved his computer set-up upstairs to our living room. I think more light and more space from his small office really helps. He gets pretty sore though, so I told him he needs to set a timer to get up and move every 50 minutes or so. We also had to get fiber internet because what we had before wasn’t cutting it – the cost of rural living.

    He does miss work at the office though. His office runs on ideas and not being able to head to a co-worker’s office to bounce ideas around is tough. We’ll see if he gets to go back before Xmas (highly doubtful).

  10. Kimmy Schmidt*

    I like Alison’s note in her last paragraph. I definitely miss the structure of being in an office, and I miss informal chats with my colleagues more. But I also hope that we retain the ability to occasionally work from home. Before, my workplace was very butts-in-seats. If you had a cold or needed to take the dog to the vet or were waiting on the cable guy, you took time off. Now, I hope we’ll be able to use some occasional WFH time to make things easier.

    1. Ali G*

      I hope that many formally “butts in seats” companies will explore more flexible options in the future. My husband’s company was very BIS before the pandemic (last year the only negative on his annual review was that he WFH too much. We had a lot of work going on in the house and WFH on Fridays when the foreman was on site for 3 months. That’s it.) and thankfully is now exploring a flexible schedule option for the new year. He’s a consultant so he works long hours anyway, so it’s been great for us to be able to eat dinner together at a normal time, without me foisting food on him when he walks in the door at 7 pm.

    2. old curmudgeon*

      This is exactly my experience.

      While I don’t mind working in the office, and I do enjoy the opportunity to interact and brainstorm with colleagues, I am also very productive working from home, and I really appreciate being able to do so. It was never, ever an option in my work unit before March of this year, but we even managed to close the fiscal year working 100% remote, despite some extra-special challenges this year due to the impact of the plague on our financials.

      At least for me, I see this enforced experiment with remote work as having a major silver lining in that my supervisor and grande boss no longer seem to see it as a very unusual, special privilege that is granted to a very few special people on rare occasions, and only after jumping through eleventy-seven hoops beforehand. They still have an expectation that we’ll document how we spent our time, which is mildly annoying, but I see that as a relatively small price to pay for being able to work from home occasionally even after the quarentimes.

      The rumors I’m hearing all sound like my employer does not expect us to return to in-person work until at least late spring of 2021, and possibly later than that. Given that I’m old enough to be in the heightened risk category, I am fine with waiting that long; spontaneous chats with my colleagues are so not worth dying for.

    3. TiffIf*

      I miss the structure of the office too and the informal chats. But prior to the pandemic I was able to work from home one day a week. It was great–since most people were in the office the day I worked from home, it was “out of sight out of mind.” People wouldn’t ask me questions or interrupt what I was doing so I saved tasks where I needed to be able to dive deep and not be disturbed for my WFH days. Now everyone is WFH so I don’t have that but I also don’t have the advantages of being in the office either.

      I do want to go back to the office, but I will still keep my one day WFH when I go back.

      I might like full time WFH better if I had a dedicated office space that wasn’t in my bedroom. Part of my problem is being in my bedroom something like 18 hours a day is driving me up the wall.

    4. Not A Girl Boss*

      Yes, I would be a HUGE (bigly, tremendous) fan of a hybrid model. I really miss the ease of collaborating on a plan in person… but once that plan is made, its soooo much more effective for me to work from the peace and quiet of my home, where no one is dropping by to interrupt me without making an appointment. And now that I work 100% remote and most of my coworkers are 100% in the office, I’m realizing the importance of the entire team either being in person or remote – the mix is where it gets awkward.

      This is particularly true because my company uses Agile, which has a set cadence of brainstorm and individual work. I would love a Monday/Thursday in person day, and the rest remote.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I don’t want to stay home for my convenience — I am interrupted less often because most people respect the ‘busy’ status flag. And when I run up against one of the ones who do not, my manager is totally on board with me switching to ‘do not disturb’ until I meet my deadline.
      In office, “just this one thing” visitors were an ongoing issue.
      My whole team is more productive and more accurate, aand more able to meet with colleagues in other time zones. And THAT is why my manager is trying to keep us all of us remote.

  11. Should be grateful (?)*

    Very much me. I miss the office so much for so many reasons:
    1) I feel much easier to focus during meetings when I am actually IN THE meeting room and facing my colleagues. My mind drifts off so easily during Zoom that I had taken to recording (and relistening) just to make sure I don’t miss anything.
    2) With flexibility comes an impression that every one of my colleagues are now full blown workaholics – Emails are coming in on late nights, on weekends… and I feel obligated to match their pace.
    3) All the former office perks that improve morale (chit chats in the pantry, eating lunch with colleagues, small office holiday parties) have all be disappeared.
    4) I feel a sharp increase in superfluous reporting. As if bosses are in a panic about not knowing what is happening in projects, so they mandated a weekly report, when it used to be monthly. I feel I am actually doing more reporting on what my project status is… than ACTUALLy doing the project.

    Sorry, just exhausted by it all.

    1. Elenia*

      Yeah I have to constantly resist the expectation I will be there all the time, and also resist it for my staff. I want/need them to take time off! And feel disconnected so they can come back refreshed!

      I took a week’s vacation to Maine a month ago (the only place I felt safe going). i got a text from a colleague asking if I had time to chat and irritated, ignored it. Nothing in our job can’t wait a week. NOTHING. I find it extremely disrespectful.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Lol, I went on vacation to NH and specifically picked a place with no cell reception. It was glorious. I agree its disrespectful.

        I have started to just make mental separations for myself, because it was ruining my sanity. I deleted work email from my phone, and started setting an alarm for technology shutdown. At 8pm my phone goes on do not disturb in another room, and I don’t check it until 8am. Its been incredible for my sleep too (no more procrastinating bed time scrolling the internet) so I think I’ll keep that up long term.

    2. many bells down*

      Re: #2 – I’m getting this as well, but I’m also the only part-time hourly employee! Everyone else is either salaried or full-time. So I can’t keep up even if I wanted to, but I still get emails at 10pm or on my days off. Fortunately my boss is good at reminding me to draw boundaries, but I still feel like a slacker.

    3. Scott M*

      I admit that’s there are challenges to working from home. I miss my morning commute to listen to my podcasts. My teen son is doing school at home 3 days a week, so he replies upon me for social interaction during the day. I can’t easily ask questions of coworkers.
      Overall, I’m ok with it. And I understand why others might not be.
      But I gotta say, I’m a bit annoyed when people CONSTANTLY talk about how horrible it is because they can’t stand not being around people, and assume I empathize.
      I wanna tell them that I’m an introvert who has lived in their world for 50+ years. They can stand to live in mine for 1.

    4. nonegiven*

      They’re doing email at night and weekends because they had child duty earlier or had to schedule access to the quieter room around their spouses access.

  12. Mr. Cajun2core*

    I had worked from home before for years so it was not a big deal for me to work from home.

    However, my wife and I do have what might be an unusual situation. She is an *extreme* introvert. One would think that she would be loving the whole work from home thing. However, since I was also at home basically 24×7 (as was she) she was not getting her “alone time”. I could be at the other end of the house but it didn’t matter. She was not alone in the house.

    She was very happy when I was told to return to work for at least 3 days out of week. She now gets some alone time. I was given the option of working all 5 but for various reasons, I chose to go into the office for 4 days out of week. She is loving it but wishes it was 5.

    WFH, not only affects us but it can also affect the people we live with. Introvert significant others may not be getting any private time.

    1. Researcher*

      I resonate with this so much. I am an introvert, and my commute used to be my alone time. My partner used to travel a fair amount for their work as well, which would allow me time alone in the evenings at home. For me, it is extremely difficult to be with another person all the time, as much as I love them. I appreciate you calling attention to this. It is sometimes a difficult thing to verbalize.

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      I wouldn’t consider myself an ‘extreme’ introvert, but it really driving me up the wall that Hubs is *always home*. I used to have 15-30 minutes every night where he’d get home after me, and I could just be by myself. Now I’m *always* by someone and I’m going a little nuts. I’ve gotten to the point some weeks where I drove to a local park after work to just sit and watch the lake or the birds. But that’s not quite the same, as I really prefer scuttling back into my own hidey-hole (ie. home) for a few minutes of relative silence.

      Poor Hubs sits at home alone all day, and is much more of an extrovert, so when I get home, he’s so excited to have someone to talk to, and I’m trying to not be irritated and all “I’ve been around people and talking to people all day, leave me be for a little bit, ffs”.

      1. Mr. Cajun2core*

        You and your husband sound so much like my wife and I. I am not as much of an extrovert as I used to be but I still am one. I was glad to get back to work to actually see people!

      2. Anonya*

        This, exactly. My husband is my favorite person … but I am REALLY tired of him being around all the time! I’m an introvert and am not enjoying this WFH thing as much as I thought I would.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m not an extreme introvert, just a bit of one, and I feel this so much. I was wfh before all of this hit, now he’s here ALL THE TIME and it drives me nuts. And he won’t be returning to the office any time soon because his new job is based in another city where they’re not even out of Phase 1 yet. We’re solving our problems by moving to a place with a designated office space for him and one for me and I’m so glad we’re in a position to do that because yo, this is a strain.

    4. Not A Girl Boss*

      I so relate to this, but in a complete opposite way. My husband and I used to work at the same company. So, we used to get up and get dressed together, commute in together, and be home 100% of the time together.

      Now, I work from home and he still goes into the office, and it is heaven. I particularly absolutely adore getting to do my morning routine without bumping into him.

      Its funny because I really like him a lot, and we would often eat lunch together and enjoy it, and I do miss commuting with him, but I am a bit of an introvert and having peaceful alone time in the morning is so invaluable.

    5. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Yes. I live with my parents and they have no concept of privacy (they never had, but now is worse). My father looks like he was trained in interrogation tactics and asks so much questions that not even a NDA can stop him. I’ve taken private calls from the roof and on my mobile data to get some sort of peace of mind. I feel I’m being treated as a teenager again.

    6. nerfherder*

      Ha, yes, this is a factor too! My husband is more introverted than me, but I value alone time much more. I’m just built that way. Now I am home 24/7/365 with him and the kids and sometimes I feel like I’m going to climb out of my skin. I love them all very much! But I miss my alone time.

      I’ve taken to staying up until all hours (gives me good alone time deep in the night, but messes with my sleep schedule something fierce) or going to do necessary errands like the grocery store and just sitting in my car in the parking lot for a ridiculous amount of time. None of this is as nice as being alone in my own space where I can make noise, walk around, etc. The rare times my husband will take both kids for a walk and leave me truly alone for half an hour feel like a trip to Hawaii at this point.

      1. allathian*

        I get up at 5.15 just to have an hour of alone time in the morning! I also take walks alone. That said, my husband goes to the office one or two days a week, so that helps, too. And our 5th grader is in in-person school for now, so at least I don’t have to supervise his remote learning. He’s a pretty self-motivated student, though, and his teacher’s really good at teaching online, so things were pretty good for us in the spring. That said, my son’s a lot happier when he’s at school and can see his friends, so fingers crossed they don’t have any COVID cases at his school.

  13. The Other Dawn*

    I hated working from home when I first transitioned in March/April. I thought I’d love it, but I didn’t. Aside from not having a dedicated space (I’m working on it), I really missed seeing people, dropping by someone’s desk to ask a question and then ending up talking about the latest movie, and just having that set structure of getting ready for work and getting out of the house. I also hated all the different noises, like landscapers, cars driving by, dogs barking and all that–I solved that by using a portable AC unit in the room.

    After six months, I now see the advantages to it and it looks like it’s going to be permanent–yay! I can run errands during the day, do household stuff when I need a break, go outside and walk around the yard, there’s no commute, no having to buy or worry about work clothes, no making breakfast/lunch for the following day, way less meetings than before, and more time to focus. I also get to lay down in bed when my back is bothering me, then go right back to work. Pretty soon I’ll have a real home office, which will be nice. Right now I work at the dining room table.

    1. Me*

      Are you me?

      All of this, except substitute knee for back.

      I don’t plan on working in my office in the next 8 years before I retire.

  14. Xavier Desmond*

    I’m one of those people who always said I would never want to work from home because I want to keep my work and home life separate. However, I have got used to it and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. When things are back to normal (whenever that will be) I would love to work from home some of the time and in the office the rest.

  15. Ali G*

    Our office never officially closed, but we’ve been on WFH since March, effectively. We are basically in a hybrid model for the foreseable future. I like it – I can go to the office when it suits me and WFH most of the time. I will probably get into some sort of schedule after the new year, depending on how things are in my area, but overall, I like WFH with the option to go into the office. Right now, I can’t really get face time with co-workers in the office since most are home with kids, or they take public transportation (or other reasons why getting to the office won’t work), so being there isn’t a ton different than WFH, other than I can print as much as I want :)

  16. Sign Language Interpreter*

    I’m an educator working from home and am continuing to do so, even though my high school is now open hybrid, because of health issues. While I am blessed to work for a district that has allowed me to work this way, instead of insisting I come in or take unpaid leave, watching students in the classroom today doing things, it was all I could do to not sit there and cry through each class. I used to love the thought of working from home. I hate it now. I know part of the reason is that I almost never leave my house, so I’ve been here pretty consistently since March, but it’s not like any of my normal outlets are available to me anymore, because, if I get sick, I stand a much-greater-than average chance of dying, so I just can’t risk going anywhere. It sucks because there’s no end in sight.

    1. Flower necklace*

      I’m really sorry to hear that.

      I’m a high school teacher, too, and I really miss being in the classroom. My district is all virtual except for a small group of students who qualify for in person support, so I don’t have a choice. I miss being able to walk around during the day. I miss seeing my students’ faces. I miss chatting in the department room. I know it’s not safe to go back (and even if we did, hybrid wouldn’t be a good choice), but it still sucks.

  17. OrigCassandra*

    I’m somewhere in the middle. In case it needs saying: I accept and fully agree that physically returning to campus is deeply foolhardy for at least the remainder of this semester, and likely beyond!

    I have it immensely easier than a lot of WFHers. My home is free-standing and I am its sole human occupant. One room was repurposeable as an office, which helps me separate work and home time. I enjoy taking cat-petting breaks, raiding the fridge for a spontaneous lunch, setting the temperature to my preferred level, and deskdancing/singing with abandon when a particularly good tune pops up on shuffle.

    I miss my colleagues. They’re good people and I miss them. I miss my office and its small work-related comforts. I absolutely loathe video chats; I can manage teaching synchronously by video, but I very don’t love it. (Give me in-person or asychronous-online and I’m fine. This betwixt-and-between is not great.) I miss the dining and coffeeshop options on and near campus that I used as motivational treats. And time-at-work is creeping up for me the way it is for lots of people, and I’m having trouble corralling it.

    Lots of ambivalence about the mixed bag. Making the best of it, as we all are, and very conscious of my own good luck.

    1. many bells down*

      I’m in the middle too. I enjoy having the time alone with my spouse (both our kids moved out at the beginning of the year), and we’re actually having a much more equitable division of labor since he can do more minor chores around the house, like empty the dishwasher while he’s making coffee.

      BUT I was a SAHM for like 12 years and I was really excited to wear nice clothes and makeup and be out of the house for a real job again! I got 6 months of Real Office Work before we shut down. And my regular volunteer gig is 100% off the table – the museums just reopened here but I cannot be in a public place with hundreds of people.

    2. Dr Logen*

      Many of us have physically returned to work, despite it not being safe to do so. I would love the ability to work at home since my husband has asthma but I don’t have the option – I have to teach risky college students every day.

  18. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

    I love the WFH option and have been exceedingly happy with it. I had an overlong daily commute (think 3 – 4 hours round trip per day) and it was killing me. My company just announced last week that they were going to allow people to choose where they wanted to work including 100% WFH option. I’m super excited to make it permanent. But for me, the transition was easy. To do all my work tasks, I only need internet access and my company laptop. I have a nice work specific setup which makes it easy for me to stay away from that area and completely disconnect from work during non work hours. I’m happier, my dogs are happier and I have way more personal time while at the same time being able to expand my workday. Overall, I’m far more productive with WFH.

    1. irene adler*

      Betting you are more productive too.
      Hope employers will look at the productivity, see that it didn’t drop and conclude that WFH is an entirely viable option for their employees. It won’t hurt the bottom line.

      1. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

        I’m far more productive than I was in the office. I work in finance which tends towards far more conservative mind set around things like WFH, so while the company its self offered it as an option, Finance org tended to frown upon it. But this has been a huge eye opener for them. They’ve learned that it is possible to do thing from home and that being in the office doesn’t equal productivity. This one initiative is going to do more for reducing traffic in our area (which is horrible), reduce housing costs, and improve our green footprint than any of the corporate initiatives around these areas ever would. Plus, we will get to tap into talent that isn’t interested in moving to this part of the country due to the issues around traffic and housing prices.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My team could give up half its office space we were allowed 50% WFH. Two desks & 2 chairs fit in a cube… as long as there’s only one person.

  19. irene adler*

    Where I live the local mayors were working on a project to find ways to mitigate the horrendous traffic workers must battle to get to/from work. It didn’t seem very fruitful. Gotta get the major employers on board. Not sure there was any interest.

    Since COVID, traffic has been manageable.

    Your last point regarding a hybrid model would go a long way towards reducing traffic. I just hope that employers aren’t so closed-minded that they insist upon going back entirely to the pre-COVID ways.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      The city I live in tried to incentivize larger companies to let workers do some days working from home, but it didn’t really seem to stick. Traffic here has gotten so horrible, mainly because the city grew faster than the roadways could keep up with. I’ve been going into the office since May (tiny company, totally able to be socially distant while at work), and my morning commute is now about 12 minutes. Before, the morning commute was 30 minutes and the evenings were 40-45 minutes. It was really starting to wear on me, especially considering I only had to go 8 miles! I REALLY hope a lot of people do alternating WFH days when things get more “normal.”

      1. irene adler*

        I recall asking during a job interview about what considerations there were regarding their employees’ commutes (they were located in the heart of the traffic).
        Not much. Maybe they’d allow you to arrive to work at 7 instead of 8. But that was about the extent of things.
        In fact, the interviewer told me his commute was “hellacious”.
        I asked if upper management had expressed any concerns over their employees easily spending 2.5-3 hours per day commuting in traffic. Did they care about the condition employees might be in arriving each day to work frazzled from their commute? Response: Not really. It’s just something everyone has to endure.

    2. kittymommy*

      I swear traffic has actually gotten worse where I live. Everything is pretty much open here and you would think that it would have just gone back to normal. Nope. My commute is longer simply for the fact that I think a crap ton more people have been added. Where did they come from!!!

      1. FloralWraith*

        People aren’t using public transit as much (particularly those who used transit as a choice as opposed to a need), and so the cars that would normally sit around on weekdays are now being used more than usual.

        But also, delivery. So many people are using delivery apps in lieu of going out of the house. That also contributes.

  20. Philly Redhead*

    Not me! I was able to work from home two days a week prior to :::gestures wildly:: but have always wanted to be able to do it full-time, but our marketing director is anti-work-from-home — we were only allowed 1 day a week when I started (and only after working for the comapny for 6 months), and she grudgingly gave us a second (and cut the “waiting period” to 1 month) when she realized we were losing good employment candidates over the policy.

    1. Mel_05*

      My boss has always been anti-working from home too – but being forced into it changed his mind!

    2. many bells down*

      Mr. Bells’ job was also “WFH is a very rare option and we don’t like you doing it”, but they were also one of the first places to shut down in our area and implement it. I’m hoping he can still do it a couple days a week when they do go back. He doesn’t have a commute; we only live about a mile from his office, but he’s enjoying the flexibility (and our dog has gotten very attached to him now that he’s home all day).

  21. Kat*

    I really hope more workplaces will offer flexibility to workers so those who want to continue to work from home can and those who prefer to be in the office can do that and those who prefer or need a mix of the two can also have that. I have found that I LOVE working from home and am so grumpy on the days I have to be in the office (I have some essential in-person functions) now that other people are there too. I find having people walking by and chit-chatting all day so distracting after months of being in my home. I am lucky that my job is pretty solitary and well suited for being done from home and my kids are teens and largely self-sufficient during the work/school day and my spouse and I have similar working styles so we don’t bother each other. I feel distraught when I think about someday having to return to the office full-time with a commute and having to sit through meetings in-person and all of that.

    1. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

      I feel you! I’ve had that same growing dread and anxiety about being required to return to the office. My workplace just announced full time WFH as an option but I’m concerned that I’ll still be required to come into the office by my manager even if the org allows it. But I have enough support for full time WFH from my skip level manager and her manager as well so I think he’ll have to bow to the inevitable. I hope.

      1. Kat*

        I am worried too because in my department it is very politically incorrect to admit you enjoy working from home. Even though WFH is allowed it seems like the assumption is that everyone who still is at home is there because they HAVE to be due to health or family-care reasons and they can’t wait to get back. I can do 80% of my job just as well (sometimes better, certainly with more job satisfaction) from home but I am afraid that our VP will catch on that I have no health concerns or real child-care issues and I’ll get pressure to be there more often. I already feel a little guilty like I’m getting away with something but then I remind myself that I am severely underpaid and so I should take what I can get.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Document your productivity now, so you’re able to show hard numbers if/when you’re brought back on site. I’m trying to figure that out for myself, as my job isn’t extremely quantifiable.

    2. New Job So Much Better*

      My company is pretty sure we will have a choice of whether to return. But if you choose to stay WFH, you will have to clean out your office/cubicle so they can downsize. They will keep some open monitor stations so if you need to come in for a meeting or something, you will have a place to work for the day. I love WFH.

  22. Auntof2*

    I am the opposite – I am worried about being forced back into the office as while we are working from home indefinitely, there definitely seems to be an impression we’ll go back at some point. My job can be done 100% at home, I don’t need to interact with people to get my job done, and I’d rather not deal with the commute, getting dressed up, etc moving forward. I wish my company would announce a “at least until July 2021” like Twitter, or state that even once safe it will be optional, as I hate having it hang over my head that we’re going back at some point. I’d actually like to go in just once and fully clean out my office so that I can easily never go back!

    1. Dave*

      I agree about it hanging over my head. As one of the few still 100% WFH I worry that my boss will one day say tomorrow you are back in the office full time. We did recently have a company COVID scare so hopefully that slows them down with cold and flu season coming. I would like to WFH 99% of the time just coming in if we have some big meeting that should reasonably happen in person.

    2. nerfherder*

      I’m mostly okay with going back to the office, but you’re right: having no idea when is very frustrating. We’re vaguely promised that they’re going to do some kind of hybrid model and on the one hand, that’s encouraging news – but again, it’s hard to feel anything but wary when you don’t know for sure what “hybrid” will look like or when it will start.

      I think it is because my workplace wants to get people back as soon as they are able; I suspect they don’t want to tell us “July 2021” and then (gasp, horror, god forbid) have the place ready in March 2021 and not be able to get people back in right away because “you said July.” But I don’t really see what the company loses in this arrangement. I think those who are anxious to go back would rush in, and the rest can take their time, and if anything it makes the transition easier on everyone. Problem solved. But then I guess you risk some managers being unreasonable about it.

      Though if school continues online all year, lots of parents aren’t going to be able to go back to the office before the summer anyway, no matter what edicts come down from their employers. If my employer and my husband’s employer both said we had to go back in starting tomorrow, we literally couldn’t do it. MAYBE we’d get lucky and find someone to supervise our kids in online school all day, but more likely I’d end up quitting my job. And I don’t see how that would benefit anyone.

      Anyway, the point is, employers should really consider that telling people nothing (or close to nothing) sends a message, too. They are prioritizing their ability to jump back to the office whenever they think the coast is clear over some employee-friendly reassurance that you will have at least until X date. And that’s not a great message.

  23. juliebulie*

    Whee, I got quoted!

    I’m one of those people who was recently told that WFH will be “permanent.” I was not happy about this at first, realizing that I was going to have to move a lot of furniture around and buy things in order to make it work long-term. But the company just announced that they are going to pay for us to get ergonomic chairs as well as desks that go up and down electrically so that we can work standing or sitting.

    I’ll still have to move furniture around, but I really appreciate that they are buying us really good furniture (better than what’s in the office) to make up for the fact that we won’t have a space in the office.

  24. Estelle Soria*

    I’ve worked from home for extended periods in the past while navigating medication for depression, and this is different. I’m a graphic designer, and like a lot of artists, the last 6 months have been a creative deadzone. There’s a few things I miss about the office, like access to a printer, uninterrupted connection to company servers, and AC & air filtering. Homes in my area generally do not have AC, and with hazardous smoke & major heat waves happening concurrently, this summer has been brutal.

    1. Quill*

      I would have such an easier time if I could just drag the scanner home…

      I’d still need to use our office to mail things but the amount of “I cannot find an electronic copy of this document but I can make one in five minutes, unless of course it’s my WFH day” has been pretty darn high.

  25. Krissywin*

    I saw a comment online the other day that said “We aren’t working from home, we are living at work.” and I think that really summed up how it feels.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Yeah – I know a YouTuber (LGR, for those curious) who had the same problem and managed to solve it by basically renting a space that he uses as an office so he still has a “commute”. Of course that solution requires money, which not everyone has available.

    2. Nita*

      Yep. No more weekends. No more evenings. Everything is work time, interruptions to work time, and then (because this mess didn’t add up to 8 hours), more work time.

  26. Mel_05*

    I love working from home. I’m excited that my department has officially decided that we’re working from home for the rest of the year.

    I was surprised to find that my boss and coworkers also love working from home and may not want to ever come back to the office full time. My boss has always been a firm believer in people being in the office and while he was quick to accept the need to work from home during covid, I thought he would be just itching to get back into the office.

  27. Mike*

    I think the conclusion about hybrid remote in the last paragraph is what a lot of companies will do, but I think it will work out well for very few of them. It’s one of those tempting compromises that sounds like it’ll work for everyone, but ends up just devolving into “remote work is second-class work, and remote workers are second-class workers” very easily if you’re not strict about forcing it not to — and companies that didn’t have a cultural commitment to remote work before this are unlikely to have that strictness.

    Really good thread from the CEO of Gitlab (a long-time full-remote company) here about the challenges of hybrid remote:

    1. Dave*

      Hybrid to me sounds really difficult plus because a simple laptop doesn’t meet my work needs that is a double investment in technology for my company. I can just see going in the office Tuesday so I can get some face time with Lucinda and that is the day Lucinda changes her hybrid schedule unexpectedly and stays home.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Yeah, the concern of any “hybrid” setup is that people will gravitate towards one or the other because it’s rare to have two full-time office setups. I can bring a laptop back and forth, but I’m not bringing my laptop, laptop stand, external monitors, external keyboard, and dock back and forth every day. My company was looking at moving offices before the pandemic, and now they’re looking at smaller buildings with hotdesking because WFH is “just as productive!” I worry I’ll never get my desk back…

  28. Firecat*

    I’m in the WFH is the best category.

    When I’m feeling stressed or snappy I put down my headset and go for a walk outside, refill the bird feeder, pet my cats, or play a video game. I’ve lost 40lbs being able to work out during lunches and I’m eating better not surrounded by the junk food at the office.

    But I recognize I’m lucky to have a great wfh set up. I could not imagine if I had young children at home. My spouse is also a SAH so there is no competing work spaces or meetings. I feel for everyone struggling with that.

    That said having just switched to a new company in part because my old company was playing Covid fast and loose I want to caution everyone who thinks returning to work will be great that even working in the office is not the same as it had been.

    There are no nice lunches out. You have a new anxiety about getting sick. Think being at the grocery store only for 8 hours while some of your coworkers stand too close and take off their masks. Plus because everyone is so stressed it definitely impacts their demeanor. Wearing a mask starts to really hurt after a few days too if you don’t have ear savers.

    1. nerfherder*

      That’s a great point. When I was at the office a few weeks back, I kept finding myself inching back from the “fast and loose with their masks” colleagues. There are some things about WFH that I struggle with, but I definitely appreciate not having to navigate that challenge. To have to be alert and vigilant about other people’s behavior all day every day is a lot.

  29. Justin*

    I have come to realize that, yes, baby/dog distractions are an issue for me, though I’m lucky he’s too young for actual school, but my actual office – an open office where I was closest to the door and pantry! – was TERRIBLE for my focus issues.

    I am happy to distract myself (I can write thousands of words while clicking around online), but if I will be possibly interrupted at any time, it’s hard to settle down.

    (And I don’t really like my coworkers much.)

    BUT I know this is just my experience. I wouldn’t mind a different office and group of folks etc.

  30. Learning As I Go*

    An occasional work from home day is awesome for me when I have a lot of clerical/ “alone time” work to catch up on. I get so much done! But the isolation of being home alone all day, every day is too much for me, and it’s too hard to keep my 2 dogs quiet and behaving while I’m on multiple calls. Thankfully, I’m considered an essential worker and I have the option to do some of both.

  31. JP*

    I really struggled with working from home earlier this year because I didn’t feel like I had the support of my manager to do so. She viewed work from home as pretty similar to vacation, she would tell people that they would have to hold their questions for me until I was back in the office, she would refuse to respond to my emails, to the point where I had to get upper management involved. (She did not take COVID seriously, and exploited loopholes to keep working at our offices.) I started to feel really isolated and paranoid, which I managed by working longer and longer hours to somehow prove that I wasn’t slacking off to her.

    She’s gone now, thank god. I don’t think I would ever want to work from home all day every day, but a couple days awake seems like a very attractive perk to me.

  32. Dust Bunny*

    I’m WFH two days a week and in the office three now, which is a relief. I don’t miss commuting every day, but since my job depends on my having access to physical materials (this is unavoidable) I can only do the most boring stuff from home, and I have to make sure to set up more of it on my days in the office so I don’t run out.

    Also, I’m hourly so I can’t actually do laundry or go for a walk any time–I’m supposed to be putting in 8 hours. I do walk early in the morning (I get up at the same time; the walk is basically my former commute time) but it’s not all that flexible.

    1. Quill*

      This is more or less the schedule I’m hoping for, overall: trying for two days wfh, three days in office as this becomes more normalized.

      I do need plenty of physical materials, but the data management can be saved for when I’m at home and have fewer distractions in the form of incoming mail, people walking around, people IM’ing me for favors I can do while in the office.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m hourly and I flex my schedule –it just takes some calculation to be sure I hit my 8 hours. I put it on the shared calendar, so even co-workers overseas know my Thursday schedule is 7-11 & 1-5.
      And I fit a lot of puttering into my (state mandated) 15-minute coffee break.

  33. alienor*

    I don’t miss going to the office or being in the office at all. I do feel that there’s more of an expectation to be instantly and constantly available, which I’m not thrilled about–not sure if that would eventually subside if WFH became permanent. Granted, it’s hard to gauge right now since I’ve spent the last few months working on a huge project with a hard deadline and would probably be answering emails at night and on weekends regardless, but there was definitely a “work all the time” vibe in the early part of WFH as well.

    What I really miss is the world outside the office. I can’t take my laptop and go to the coffee shop to work, or go out for lunch, or do a few quick errands on my way home from work. I’d like to WFH full-time but have everything else be normal, if that makes sense.

  34. BubbleTea*

    I’m really concerned about the potential for white-collar jobs to become permanently work from home for everyone, which will be a huge barrier to entry by people from lower income households who are less likely to have a suitable workplace at home. I’m fortunate that I’m living alone in my two-room bungalow, but if my marriage hadn’t ended last year there would have been two of us trying to work from home. The lucky person who got to work from either the bedroom would not have been very productive, and neither room is soundproof so confidentiality would be out. Plenty of young adults live in shared houses with nowhere to put a desk or a table. The UK already has a huge problem with the biggest inequality gap in Europe and working from home as a default will exacerbate it.

    1. UKDancer*

      Yes, this worries me also. I am fortunate in that I have a small flat but with enough room for a desk and workspace so while working from home full time is not my favourite thing, I can do it without too much difficulty. A lot of my colleagues are living in house shares with very little room. Not surprisingly many of them are keen to go back quickly to the office.

  35. 653-CXK*

    In my first go-round with WFH at ExJob, it was because a new department was moving in and they wanted to save desk space and money, so they decided whoever wanted to work from home lost their physical desk (and those who didn’t were told that they may be subject to layoffs – a scare tactic that didn’t work). Add to that a wonky Internet system and VPN, and two days of WFH was plenty. The good thing is that I was able to get my laundry done and watched TV as I worked; when I was let go in May 2018 I returned all of my equipment to ExJob (except the laptop, which they took as soon as I got the word I was gone).

    The second go-round of WFH at CurrentJob is much, much better. 98% of my job does not require me to be in the office, but 2% does, so I set aside Fridays to come into the office to take care of that (mail being the main focus). Sometimes I work from home in the mornings, have lunch, then go to the office in the afternoon (or come to the office in the morning, eat lunch, then finish the day at home); there are times where I will work all day.

    Our company is planning to have us come back to the office in January, but I think with the winter coming and the uncertainty of the virus, WFH will be just fine until the spring – then I might expand it to two days per week.

    1. 653-CXK*

      More about WFH from Ex-Job: In the events of inclement weather and the company would be forced to close, we would be paid for the full day. Once WFH came on, the company was considered open – you either WFH or were forced to use PTO for that day.

      For WFH at CurrentJob: the “it” I was talking about was working at the office. Currently, it’s just Fridays, but I might work there two days a week.

  36. Alex*

    I 85% love working from home. There are a few small things I miss–certain people, the ability to hash out a misunderstanding or brainstorm in person, and just engaging in small interactions that sometimes develop into important relationships.

    But I don’t want to go back part time. I work in a notoriously low-paying field in a notoriously HCOL area. I’ve known for a long time that my situation is unsustainable–this field doesn’t pay enough to live nearby the office long term. Every year, my budget gets tighter. I am only financially comfortable now because I have an unusually cheap rental–but if my landlord sells or I otherwise need to move, I’m moving away.

    I know a lot of people in my office feel the way I do–that they want to work remotely so that they can move away and have some financial breathing room. I think it will be a reckoning for my company if they think we’ll go back to how it was, paying low wages but expecting us to live commuting distance to the office. I won’t do it.

  37. Dan*

    For me, a hybrid model is actually the worst. My apartment isn’t set up for long-term WFH, because I don’t have the space for my office setup. In the short term because pandemic? Sure. In the long term? No. My commute is reasonable, so avoiding it isn’t the panacea for me that it is for others.

    Also… I got a promotion a couple of years ago that never would have happened if the office was complete WFH. I was working in a different department (that I was thinking about leaving) and I accidentally ran into some people from a department that needed a background that I had that was hard to find. I ended up transferring into that department and getting promoted a year later. Promotions at my org are a big deal, and come with BIG pay increases. I never would have got promoted if it wasn’t for that chance encounter that never would have occurred if we were WFH.

    The reality is that WFH is great for my day-to-day activities. I’m a computer programmer, and I need to get my code written when I can get some peace and quiet. But there are parts of my job that I cannot do effectively when access to other people is limited. I can grab my boss in the hall for 30 seconds to a minute in a way that I can’t do remote. Over time, that matters. It just doesn’t matter today or next week. It will matter over the course of the year.

    Also, my org just had a massive reorg. I’ve never met my new boss in person, and I have yet to even speak to her via voice.

  38. Scott M*

    I admit that’s there are challenges to working from home. I miss my morning commute to listen to my podcasts. My teen son is doing school at home 3 days a week, so he replies upon me for social interaction during the day. I can’t easily ask questions of coworkers.
    Overall, I’m ok with it. And I understand why others might not be.
    But I gotta say, I’m a bit annoyed when people CONSTANTLY talk about how horrible it is because they can’t stand not being around people, and assume I empathize.
    I wanna tell them that I’m an introvert who has lived in their world for 50+ years. They can stand to live in mine for 1.

    1. LQ*

      I am a huge introvert. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a social creature. I want to go home and be where it is peaceful and quiet and I am alone to charge up on energy. But I recognize that is not the way to build the relationships I need to make the work I need to get done done. I hate that there is a bunch of introverts saying this is great and perfect and implying that anyone who doesn’t like this is an extrovert.

      I have to expend way more energy to maintain virtual relationships than in person ones. In person I can go for coffee and nod and uhhuh my way through a few things or decide I have enough spare energy for a 30 second drive by with someone who is a TALKER. But virtually I need to actually schedule time with that person and suddently they are eating 30+ minutes of my time and all of my spare capacity.

      I hate this AS an introvert because I’m introverted and this virtual relationship building is so much more expensive than in person.

      1. Christina*

        Yes, thank you! I’m also an introvert and generally prefer to keep work and social life separate, and in a previous life LOVED work from home because it gave me the opportunity to balance my need for quiet focus and the necessary work social time to build relationships. But now I’m just anxious all the time about what projects I’m missing/if I’m losing visibility/really only talking to my immediate supervisor on a regular basis. I’ve tried setting up some remote social chitchat stuff for my team/org (because you’re right – it does take more effort to maintain that remotely), but none of it has really caught on and that also makes me feel terrible and like I’m trying too hard and then even more isolated (it feels like when no one wants to sit with you at the lunch table).

        One coworker pointed out the challenge with remote work right now is that it means nearly every interaction with a coworkers is based on a work need. I need them to do something, or they need me to do something – there’s no relationship or social capital building, so it’s everything is just a transaction. I also have no visibility to what else they’re working on, or just overhearing about a project that I might be able to help with.

      2. Salty Extrovert*

        Just want to jump in and backwards-agree, at least that the whole intro/extrovert stereotyping is a terrible oversimplification. I’m fairly extroverted, but I’m on team Loving WFH because of it. Being someone who enjoys talking to people doesn’t mean that you thrive on any kind of office chit-chat thrust upon you, by default. In the office, I’m a all-day headphones-on person, because I have a job where I need to focus without distraction, and every time someone “pops by” my desk to tell me about bread baking, it derails me and I get irritated about losing my place and having to spend another 20 minutes getting back into my groove. Doesn’t make me not an extrovert, just serious about my work.

        WFH has just meant I’ve had more time to refocus on doing work during work hours, muting notifications at 6pm (after the second month of lockdown, had to get very clear about my availability boundaries and that after a one hour post-work grace period each night, emails/Slacks will go unanswered unless it’s an emergency important enough that it reaches someone with my cell number and the judgment to use it wisely), and ignoring office politics. My work gets done, my boss is happy, and I’m getting to devote extra time to socializing with the people in my life I was ignoring from years of a terrible commute, mandated after-hours “team building,” and being too tired to catch-up with non-work friends when I got home.

        TL;DR: It’s just as annoying to have coworkers say you can’t be extroverted because you enjoy WFH and skipped “Zoom happy hour” in favor of taking a socially-distanced bike ride with a friend at 5pm, instead of drinking at your computer while looking awkwardly into a camera.

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely, I think saying introverts love WFH and extroverts hate it is not quite right.

          I am slightly extrovert according to the MBTI. I don’t find working from home difficult per se. What I have found difficult is working from home all the time and losing all my other social activities due to lockdown. The theatres, bars, dance classes, spas and restaurants were shut for an extended period so I lost all of the things I do to fill my needs and was just left with working from home and not being able to meet up with my friends.

          Replacing these with activities over zoom helped but didn’t replace it. I don’t dislike my colleagues but I’m not a pub animal so zoom drinks would not be my preferred way of socialising any more than going to the pub with my colleagues was in the before times. I liked to keep my socialising away from work if possible.

          For me personally working from home wasn’t difficult, not having social outlets was difficult. In London some things have opened up again (and I feel a lot happier about life now I can get my hair and nails done) which makes me a lot happier the rest of the time.

  39. Cautionary tail*

    I work two jobs, an office job and an adjunct teaching job. Both transitioned to WFH in March and I couldn’t be happier.

    I wake up an hour and a half later in the morning because my commute is now ten steps from the bed and my formal office attire has transitioned into jammies and comfy slippers. At my office job, I had a solo task anyway so I would go in, do my thing, not talk to anyone all day and leave. Now I do exactly the same thing, except for the going in part. For my teaching, I taught four of my six classes per year online anyway so the transition to online teaching consisted of notifying my (March) upcoming in-person class that we would be moving online and providing a bit of hand-holding for students who were not used to it.

    A casualty of all this is my local dry cleaners. Since I no longer need them, and others are doing the same as me, they went out of business. They are such nice people and I wish them the best for their future.

  40. Not a Blossom*

    I feel for the people who hate it, but man, do I love it. I save so much time and money, no one can pop into my office to interrupt me for a question that could have been an e-mail, I can easily be home for deliveries… it goes on and on. I’m lucky that I have a dedicated office in my house with a door; when I’m not working, I keep the door closed, which helps keep work off my mind.

  41. Heat's Kitchen*

    One note on the “I can’t turn it off/be available all hours”. I talked to my therapist about this very thing. She helped me realize I need a “Done with work” routine. For me, it’s listening to an audiobook or podcast and changing into sweats (yes, I work in real clothes and shower almost every day), and then I don’t check my email. I do sometimes work after the kids go to bed, but it’s on my terms.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      Back when I was working from home (I’m back in the office now), I would shut down my computer and then go for a walk or a bike ride to decompress. Luckily I live in a neighborhood where that’s easy. The public parks were closed, but certain roadways were partially closed to make it easier to walk, jog, or ride a bike. That definitely helped me switch gears and relax. So I agree that a “done with work” routine is important!

    2. miss chevious*

      I, too, work in real clothes even though I’m 100% WFH at the moment. I tried sweats or lounge clothes, but I could NOT get out of lounge mode when I wore them, so back into work clothes I am. I even wear lipstick on the video calls. This is not at all due to pressure from colleagues or managers and 100% me communicating to myself that I am “at work” and need to get things done.

  42. Jonno*

    I guess I’m in the minority. I never want to work in an office again. I was able to get rid of my car (we’re not returning to the office once it’s safe), save money, time, and I don’t work any more than I do when I’m in the office. In fact I feel like I work better and more efficiently. It has every advantage and no disadvantage. That said, I guess it may have something to do with the fact that I don’t like most of my co-workers and I could work with no social interaction at all (I have lots of friends outside of work) and be fine. To each their own!

    1. Cautionary tail*

      Jonno, I may get rid of the car too. I have used 1-1/2 tanks of gasoline since March. My last oil change was December 2019.

      1. DarthVelma*

        I hear ya. It’s a running joke with our favorite checker at the grocery store – they do gas points. She always tells us how many we’ve racked up and we talk about how long it has been since any of us have driven anywhere further than the grocery store.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I’m not getting rid of my car, per se, but it was getting up in age (9 years/150K miles) and the daily 40-50 mile roundtrip commute was not helping. Car was starting to wear out fast. And I would rather not get a new/new to me car for another 3-4 years, for budget reasons. The longer I can get it to last in good working condition without investing regular $$$ into repairs, the better. I used it for my fun trips pre-Covid and would love to be able to do so in the future. This is a massive upside of WFH to me.

  43. Roja*

    I’ve worked in person, from home, and hybrid versions pre-COVID. I like doing work that’s meant to be done online, online. That’s fine. I do NOT like doing work that’s meant to be done in person (for me, that’s teaching kids, so very hard to do over a screen) online. I’ve been back at work in person on and off since June and I couldn’t be happier.

  44. Variant Scientist*

    Mental health concerns made me go back to work at the beginning of August, even tho I didn’t have to. How can I be expected to concentrate on work when there is paint in the living room that needs touching up, washing that needs folding and weeds in the front garden? I need absolute separation between work and home or I’ll totally lose it. I’m normally a very cautious person but I was willing to take the risk to go back to work.

    1. Just delurking to say...*

      I had the same issue. I’d always thought of myself as a very focussed person – able to concentrate in an open plan office! – but WFH proved me wrong. Housework is amazingly distracting when you’re cooped up at home all the time. I’m so much happier, and more productive, now that I’m back at the office full-time.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I’m fortunate that I have a spare room with a door that I converted into my office. I go in there and forget about the housework. As in “oh crap, did i start a load of laundry at 8 AM?” when I sign off work at five pm. Then at the end of a work day, I walk out of that room, close the door, and forget about work. Really helpful. This is a recent development (kids started moving out); up until late last year, my WFH workspace was a dining table in the basement, next to the exercise equipment that everyone used, and that was… less than ideal.

    2. Anonya*

      ARE YOU ME? I don’t hear anyone talking about this, but this is honestly my biggest roadblock to fully enjoying WFH. I am surrounded, all day long, by both home and work projects.

  45. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    I think one of the biggest issues that I’ve noticed is that employees might have thought they had decent internet and cell services at home under normal circumstances, but when EVERYONE is working from home the reliability of a lot of services has really taken a hit. At home, I can hardly work via wifi or even cell service between 9:00 am – 6:00 pm because of all the “traffic” and I don’t have a good option for high-speed landline internet service from my apartment; interference from all of the wifi routers in all of the apartments around me makes getting through a video conference without freezing up or getting knocked off-line nearly impossible. Add to that the heavy shift over the last 5-10 years to cloud-based software and document sharing and suddenly I can’t work off-line very well either. Back in my day…my software and files were all on the hard drive…and I liked it… sort of.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      I had this problem at home with my roommate and I using too many devices on our wifi. She runs a small business from our house and has been working from home for several years. Then all of a sudden I had to work from home as well, and the speed was reduced dramatically! My company pays for my cell service with unlimited data, so I actually had to start using my cell phone as a hot spot for my computer to run faster. It’s probably better to go that route anyway, so the services I’m using for work are all on the company’s dime, but there was definitely a trial-and-error period to find the best way to make it work (and work well).

      1. Quill*

        Most of the time I can’t tell if the internet insanity in my home is from so many people being online in the general neighborhood, or if cancelling our ISP’s cable package means they’re monkeying with me.

      2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        You’re lucky that your employer is willing to pay. Mine isn’t and we didn’t get any COL increases let alone raises this year to offset any WFH expenses. If this becomes permanent, WFH is going to be the next frontier for worker exploitation. While the business gets to cut their expenses not just on day-to-day supplies like toilet paper, pens, file folders and printer toner, but also by cutting security personnel and cleaning personnel, and lowering their utility bills, etc., my bills have increased noticeably in the last few months and I didn’t get a cent more.

  46. Workerbee*

    I 100% love working from home. However, I have these circumstances:
    -I had been in my new job, met all the people, and established rapport and camaraderie for several months before it all happened,
    -I have an online job so my needs are basically a computer and internet,
    -I have a dedicated office space, no kids, and my husband has his dedicated office space.

    I’m still at home due to being high-risk, while work dragged people back in the moment the Stay Home policy was overthrown. There are stated work policies that people aren’t really following, and masks are only required if you’re in a common space.

    We all stay in touch just great over work IM. What I don’t miss are the drafty yet close-quartered open office layout, the incessant interruptions, and on-the-spot meetings of which more than 90% prove useless.

    As for home, we’re managing quite well. I love my home and being able to step away from the keyboard every so often and still be comfortable without feeling eyeballs on me because I’m not constantly visibly busy.

    Occasionally the always-being-around can build up, but we recognize it when it does, and it’s on the person feeling irritable to manage their own feelings, not expect the other person to magically disappear for an hour. So it’s been lovely overall.

  47. glitter writer*

    In an ideal universe I’d work from home 2-3 days a week, and have an office to go to for the remaining 2-3 days. That said, between staying home 5 days and commuting 5 days, I’ll take the fill-time WFH anytime.

    That said, Lord almighty this pandemic makes me miss working in an office WITHOUT my children around.

  48. AnonEMoose*

    I’m so, so lucky in many ways. I’m working from home, my spouse’s job is considered essential, so he is still going to work. Which doesn’t make me happy, because he would be at higher risk for complications if he caught COVID. But at least his employer is screening people on the way in and encouraging distancing. But I’m getting alone time, and I have a quiet environment to work, since we don’t have kids, it’s just me and the cats.

    And my method of commuting before this was public transit, and I’m kind of terrified to think about taking transit right now. We can’t afford another car and the fees to park near my office building. So I’m glad my employer is supportive of people wanting to continue to work from home.

    But I’m stressed about the pandemic – my sister is a teacher, my nephews have respiratory issues, and their school district opened in person. Plus my BIL’s brother and his wife are anti-vax and anti-mask, so I’m worried for my sister and her DH and kids and our elderly parents.

    And…I am SO, SO ANGRY at all of the people making this worse by refusing to wear masks or stay home or distance. Who are mocking those of us trying to stay as safe as possible, and who are generally making this worse. I am angry at our so-called “leaders” for turning this into a political football. This isn’t a chance to score points, it’s a public health issue, and if you ask me, if you don’t get that or are choosing to ignore it, you are morally responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.

    Sorry for the rant, but I really had to say it to someone.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Thank you…I really appreciate it! My parents, at least, are being smart about it, but it’s hard not to worry, you know?

  49. Ms Job Search*

    I thought working from home was going to be great, but found it really disrupted the space I’d made at home. I much prefer having a boundary. Our office was closed for a while and when my boss gave me the option to work from home or go back to the office, I was “OFFICE PLEASE” in a heartbeat.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      I think it’s interesting that it was mentioned in a meeting recently that some of the people at my company who volunteered to go back to the office have requested to return to WFH. I haven’t talked with any of them, so I don’t know the reasons. I just thought it was interesting.

      1. Elsajeni*

        That is interesting! I wonder if part of it is that, as long as enough people are still working from home, some of the annoyances of working from home still apply even for people who are back in the office — too many video calls, few opportunities for spontaneous collaboration, even the places you used to go for lunch are closed or on limited service — so you start to feel like, man, if I still have to do all the annoying parts of working from home, I might as well go back home, where at least I also get the benefit of wearing yoga pants to work.

  50. Fed up with WFH*

    I’m in the WFH right now is hard camp. About 75% of my job can be done remotely and I previously have had jobs that I worked remotely a portion of the time. Right now I just can’t because my partner and my daughter are really, really, really bad at it. Unfortunately my daughter is better at it than my partner. She mostly wants to sit in my lap and draw, not ideal but I can still work and if it’s the end of the day and she skipped a nap I will definitely let her do that while I finish up. Partner on the other hand just doesn’t seem to get that WFH means I’m working, granted there are occasional days where I’m twiddling my thumbs all day or have like 2 hours of work to do all day, that happens in the office too and I had a bunch of those days right at the beginning of WFH. Partner just can’t seem to stop asking questions or trying to get me to do things.

  51. cheeky*

    It’s probably because I’m an introvert and have no kids, but I love this new normal for me. I have so much more energy, mental and physical, since I’ve been working from home. I’m healthier and happier. I am much more productive and much less distracted. This have me an opportunity to quantify just how much of an impact an open office has on my ability to work and my stress levels. The quiet is golden.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      I’ve been trying to use this time to improve my eating habits and drink more water, and I bought a small elliptical stepper and try to get in 2 sessions of at least 10 minutes each at least on weekdays. It’s easier to eat healthier when I have salad and raw veggies and fruit in the house, and I can’t just run somewhere and get lunch or a snack. And I found a mug that keeps my ice water really cold for a very long time. So at least there is something good.

      1. cheeky*

        I’ve been working out daily during my lunch breaks. It’s done wonders for my health and stress levels.

  52. Amethystmoon*

    I am an introvert, but I miss being at work all the time. I live close, so I used to walk to work. I got twice as much exercise on the days I worked. Now I actively have to exercise at least 3-4 15-minute spurts, and it’s definitely challenging, especially when I am busy. Also I didn’t have as much access to snacks at work. Supposedly we are going back this fall (essential industry), but we will see if that actually happens. Probably will be after snow comes too.

  53. Jenkins*

    No way, I absolutely love it and never want to go back. I hope we’ll be able to keep working from home even after all this is over.

    1. JustAClarifier*

      Thank God I’m not alone. I’ve been feeling like I’m losing my mind because so many people want to go back. I feel like they’ll be back for one week and go, “Nevermind.” I just hope that employers don’t generalize that *everyone* wants to go back and allow the flexibility for those like us who prefer remote work.

  54. Mid*

    I like working from home, but I’m really socially starved right now, and it’s been hard. I’m pretty introverted, but I also live alone and my office only does a Zoom call once a month to check in on everyone. Otherwise, everything is email and purely business. My friend who works for a different company and I have taken to just having multi-hour long phone calls on speaker, where we aren’t really talking to each other, but are just hearing other human noises in the background and occasionally chatting about mundane stuff. It’s helping recreate the office socialization we’re both missing.

    1. Mid*

      But also, I’m now the only person who isn’t working from home full time. I’m now in the office every day, but no one else is, so I’m just as alone as working from home, with none of the comforts of home (like my cat.)

  55. SomebodyElse*

    Anyone beside me miss the work travel?

    I usually traveled about 25% of the time and while that does get to be a drag at times. I think I really miss it. (Maybe that’s what has had my socks in a twist). Come December it will have been a full year since I’ve been on a work trip. Wow!

    Yes, the travel isn’t glamorous, I didn’t go to exciting locales, (and I am lucky that most of my trips are drivable) but maybe there was something to just getting out of the house, away from the pets, away from my spouse for those few days a month that gave me a break. Interesting that this is the first time I’ve made that connection.

    1. DarthVelma*

      I go to one conference every other year that I will miss being at in person. (It’s usually in DC in August, which is a swamp, but the people I see there are awesome.)

      We’re doing the conference virtually and they’re recording all of the sessions, which is nice. Means I’ll actually get to see all of the sessions I can’t make in person. I figure that just about makes up for missing the lunches and happy hours with folks from other states that I only see in person every other year.

      Otherwise, I would choose to work from home for the rest of forever.

    2. UKDancer*

      Me definitely. I used to travel a lot and I miss it.

      I miss meeting my overseas colleagues, talking to people and working things out and then going for a nice meal. I miss borscht and dumplings in Kyiv, and really good frites and beer in Brussels. I miss collecting pens and jelly babies at trade fairs. I even miss visiting the regional offices in other parts of the UK.

      Of course one can do a lot virtually or on the phone but I miss the fun of travel and getting away from my desk. Many things are a lot easier when you can sit down with people in person.

  56. officecryptid*

    I am so desperate to get back to the office, its nuts. My work *can* be done online, but everything is 20% more difficult. I spent so much more time in meetings now, because the work that could be handled by stopping into someone’s office is now a 30-minute meeting. I resent that I’ve given up a good chunk of my home to a work setup (I can’t afford to rent a larger space here), it would be and I miss my commute and my coworkers. I feel like I never get a mental break anymore. My work is also very network-dependent, and it’s impossible to casually meet new people.

    I really miss spontaneous social interaction, especially as a single person living alone. Most of my friends in the area have had to move home to family out-of-state, and I have no family of my own, so I am very starved for in-person socialization. Video just is not the same.

    I’m also suspicious that the “everyone WFH forever!!” push is just another way to pass costs onto the employee. I can’t and don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on higher-speed internet, a printer, office supplies, a better desk set-up, etc. I resent the idea that “rent a coworking space” or “move into a larger apartment” is seen as a viable answer for those of us who do want an office structure. I think my employer SHOULD provide a reasonable workplace, all supplies, etc. I didn’t sign up to support an all-virtual environment when I took this job, and I never would have applied for an all-remote position.

    1. officecryptid*

      Oh, and I forgot to add at the end: I also hate that the US conversation has shifted to “this was inevitable, so how do we do it forever” without acknowledging that, actually, this was not inevitable and is a result of total institutional failure.

    2. Amethystmoon*

      Yeah, printer costs add up. I am the only person on my team who would be wiling to switch to all digital, so I was outvoted at the start of all this. If not for printing and delivering physical files, I would never have to go in the office again. We work in an essential industry, so I have had to come in 1 or 2 days a week since March.

  57. Nott the Brave*

    I hate hate hate working from home! I’m a rampant extrovert who gets some of my social interaction at work (I’m in an industry where that is common due to long work hours) and this entire experience has been fully isolating. I’m very happy that my workplace is taking COVID seriously – we’ve closed our office and have no plans to return this year and potentially not even in 2021 – which I think is the responsible thing to do, since all of our work can be done remotely. I’m so lonely though!

    1. Anon for this*

      Thanks for coming out and using the L-word. One of the things which I find tremendously frustrating about the discussion about WFH is that I hear a looooooooot about what it’s like to cope with WFH and childcare (or, conversely, a lot about how great it is to be able to spend more time with one’s family now) but very, very little about how damn lonely some of us are. I am single with no children and live alone. I see friends and family (keeping it safe so online/outside) but being stuck in my house alone day after day is slowly crushing my spirit. It doesn’t help that not one of my immediate coworkers, all of whom are married and most of whom have kids, has any idea what this feels like, nice though they are. It also does not help that we are expected to be just as productive as we were in the Before Times, if not more so, and my brain just can’t deliver on that just now.

      Not saying it’s a competition and I know that wrangling kids while doing multiple Zoom meetings must be damn hard. I also have the privilege of having enough space in my home to have a home office, I can afford good internet, etc., and there is no pressure to return or work in unsafe ways. So I am making the best of it but I feel like my version of this experience gets comparatively little airtime, which adds to the isolation.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Even though I have a spouse and baby and parent at home, I’m still lonely. I miss the interactions I had with coworkers on a daily basis.

    2. Just delurking to say...*

      I’m a rampant introvert and hated the isolation too. Live alone, no kids, no family, rarely set eyes on a neighbour even when we’re not in lockdown…. By the time my WFH stint finally ended (14 weeks, felt like forever) I was truly worried that I would acclimatise so well to solitude I’d struggle being around people again.

      Thankfully I didn’t; I’m very happy being back in the office 5 days a week and devoutly hoping my part of the world keeps on dodging COVID bullets so I never never never have to WFH again.

  58. JustAClarifier*

    I guess I’m alone in that I can’t wait to NEVER GO BACK IN. I love working from home – from the deep depths of the core of my being.

  59. WorkingGirl*

    I LOVE working from home. It is definitely not for everyone, especially right now, but I am LOVING it.

  60. juliebulie*

    I’m too stressed out by other stuff (covid, politics) to really enjoy anything, so the fact that I’m not actively “enjoying” WFH doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate it. I’m having a hard time enjoying anything right now.

    One point of confusion: I thought I would hugely benefit from getting back those 10 hours a week that I spent in my car. However, I’m not getting any more stuff done, either work stuff or home stuff. Have I just been moving more slowly in the last 7 months? Where is that time going?

    1. Nita*

      I’m not seeing my 12.5 commute hours either. I’m not packing lunch to eat at my desk any more, so there are sit-down meals, cooking, and dishes – there goes one to three hours a day. And there is the child care and schooling – there goes an infinite number of hours a day. Add a toddler who until recently woke multiple times at night, and there goes the supposedly “after bedtime” part of the evening, and half of the night.

    2. JustAClarifier*

      That makes sense; the current environment in general can be disheartening. If you’re missing those hours, try tracking your time for a few days; there are a few apps I’ve used in the past that will prompt you whenever you turn your phone on to note what activity you were just doing. That might help you narrow it down. I’m a list-oriented, travelers notebook/bullet journal, plan every day type person, so my hours have been kept on track. The days that I don’t plan are the days that I also lose the time I’ve saved in commute and getting ready every morning.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I asked myself that question a few weeks ago …what happened to the time I saved not driving 90 miles a day? I realized that despite bouts of insomnia, I have caught up on sleep for the first time in 20 years. Now that I’m not physically exhausted I’m looking to get some more exercise than the “walk to work” I do if I’m not starting before dawn.

  61. Ramblin' Ma'am*

    I love working from home (and I always thought I would hate it). Everyone says, “Don’t judge remote work by how it feels during a pandemic,” and I’m like, “You mean it would normally be even more awesome??”

    No commute, sleeping late, no dealing with bad weather, no dress code–and even though I may sometimes work later, when my day is over, it’s over. There’s no, “Oh great, I had a long day and now the subway broke down.” I hope I never have to go back.

    1. Bostonian*

      There’s no, “Oh great, I had a long day and now the subway broke down.”

      YES! I do NOT miss the MBTA and the rude passengers.

  62. Pipe Organ Guy*

    On the plus side for me: My husband and I are in separate rooms for work, so we stay out of each other’s hair, for the most part. I can connect using Google Remote Desktop–sluggish at times, but at least I have everything at work available. I can wear what I want, and I’m not in the basement of the church. I can still go to the church to practice when I need to. I still go in on Sunday and play for an actual service that we livestream out to the world.

    On the negative side: Did a mention Google Remote Desktop? Yeah–it can slow to a crawl, and it has nothing to do with connection speed at home, and maybe not a whole lot with connection speed from work. Zoom staff meetings aren’t a great substitute for in-person staff meetings. We haven’t had a choir rehearsal since mid-March. I have to depend on other people to keep the office printer filled with paper and toner, and they sometimes don’t get the paper quite right, and the printer won’t do what I expect. We have seven or eight people physically present on Sunday morning, so we have to manufacture in ourselves the sense of involvement that we would get from a physically present congregation.

    We’re among the fortunate ones. We have a big house, and our bosses support our working from home. We don’t have kids and their very real and at times unpredictable needs. But I do miss the give-and-take, the impromptu discussions, the spontaneous problem-solving of being physically at my place of work.

  63. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    You’re welcome to hate it to your heart’s content and rush back into the office at the first opportunity.

    Just don’t use it as an excuse to drag me with you.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Why is it I seem to think it goes like this.

      WFH Lovers: I want to WFH as much as possible because find it more productive than the office and don’t miss the commute. I really don’t miss or need the social aspects of the office, gossip, chitchat, or the daily dramas. Will come in for the occasional big meeting because once in awhile you’ve got to show your face.

      WFH Haters: I hate (or don’t trust) WFH and would rather be in the office every day because I miss seeing people and participating in this artificial office “family” construct. So everyone else needs to be in the office every day too because I miss that social interaction. People who want to WFH will be forced to come in and participate in it or else.

      There never seems to be a middle and the WFH haters usually always won until Covid hit and they were forced to accept WFH as a way of life.

  64. CatMintCat*

    I always thought I’d love to work from home, but in reality, I hated it. I had no childcare to manage (my kids are adults), my husband and daughter were still going to work, I have a pretty good set up and the cat and I had the house to ourselves. I still hated it. I hated Zoom, Skype, whatever program of the day the boss was using, I hated the lack of my structure and routine, I missed the kids and my coworkers and was far less productive and effective than normal. Of course, some real training in what we were meant to be doing would have helped there.

    We went back to normal school in late May (there hasn’t been a case of Covid within 200km of us since April), and I skipped happily back to school. Turns out I’m not quite the introvert I always thought I was.

  65. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    For those of us that were being bullied by coworkers and managers, or for those that had to deal with the constant underlying threat of potential workplace violence, WFH has been extremely welcome. I’ve never felt safer or more comfortable. Many people I suspect are in the same boat. Let’s not forget the many in the workforce who are or who feel powerless to speak up about these serious issues when in the physical workplace. WFH has likely saved lives for more reasons than just distancing from the virus.

    1. Evan Þ.*

      I’m glad you’ve been able to escape that.

      But also, let’s also not forget the people being abused by family members or roommates who’re feeling less safe and less comfortable now that they can’t escape at the workplace. Shelters have seen a significant rise in calls about domestic abuse.

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. My company arranged a briefing from HR early on in lockdown about the signs of domestic abuse so that we could all assist colleagues. We were informed that helplines in the UK for domestic abuse sufferers have had an exponential increase in calls during lockdown and refuges are turning people away due to being full.

    2. Stuff*

      Unfortunately, this goes both ways. It’s a good thing I’m an independent adult who lives alone, now, because if I were a kid and still with my stepdad, I wouldn’t be able to have that time where he’s at work. That’s the time where I wouldn’t be beaten, called ableistic slurs for being Autistic, screamed at for no real reason, subjected to rampant paranoia, maliciously “pranked”, or overhearing him and Mom fighting. I’d be subjected to him 24/7, with nowhere safe to go, and no time alone to recover and prepare for the next round of abuse. I also wouldn’t be able to go to school to get away for a little while. And the stress of the Pandemic means he’d probably be escalating the abuse, especially since an unlicensed contractor doesn’t really have job security, and he’d probably be unemployed.

  66. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I was WFH for about a week at the start of the shut down before I was laid off and I enjoyed it.

    I started another FT job in August and while I enjoyed WFH, the idea of WFH again as a permanent, FT thing is just…ugh. I miss talking to people. Starting a new job remotely is difficult esp when managers don’t really seem to get that starting a new job remotely is already enough of a challenge. It was easy because it was convenient but I’d give anything to have an office to return to, even part-time.

  67. Tau*

    I’ve cried about this in the comments section before, but… I have a disability with major executive function deficits and one of the key ways I kept myself on track at work was via the strict separation and compartmentalization between work and home, including being around coworkers. I am literally a different person at work vs at home and this is the big saving grace that makes me productive and functional and keeps a lot of serious problems from showing up. Going to WFH basically lobbed a hand grenade into this setup. The whole thing has been absolutely, fundamentally miserable, my focus is shot, my productivity is wrecked, and I could see all this coming from miles off because I know how I work and there is a reason I avoided remote jobs and didn’t take advantage of WFH perks. Except, you know, COVID.

    And now I’m faced with tough choices because my area is turning into a hotspot but at the same time I’m at the end of my tether and if I don’t go into the office despite the risk I’m probably going to end up in a major mental health crisis that I really can’t afford. Fun times all round, not.

  68. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I wish companies could make it as easy as whoever wants to work from home can stay home and whoever wants to return to the office can return to the office.

  69. Officecryptid*

    I’m all for this in theory, but currently some of the people at my job who are most pro-indefinite-WFH are also the ones who are hardest to work with virtually (either because they’re never reachable or because they are constantly calling zoom meetings because rally, our work is easier done face to face). I’m skeptical that the hybrid plan will work long-term in many workplaces.

    1. Potatoes gonna potate*

      That’s a good point, I haven’t done WFH for long to truly judge how it could work. At my last LT job, WFH was reserved for management only as a few employees had slacked off during a few remote days (preCovid) so the privelege was revoked for almost everyone. Currently, theyre mandating people come in once a week, in groups

  70. Pooper McPoopy*

    I’m WFH now thanks to an ADA accommodation. I did WFH for four years in a previous job. There is no comparison. In normal times, it was great – I could get a week’s work of work done in a few days because of the lack of interruption and the ability to start my day whenever I wanted. Now, I juggle child care for two littles with my spouse – trading off phone calls and Zooms day by day, and never having longer than an hour or so to focus at a time. We switch off helping our remote-learning teenager with homework. I reply to emails from the kitchen counter and wake up early to knock out smaller assignments. We try to keep up with cooking and laundry and housecleaning a few minutes at a time, but that always comes at the expense of work and personal time. The few days when relatives are able to take the littles are amazing, and we’d love to take them as a day off to recharge and recuperate – but that means we’d fall further behind on work. It’s a never-ending cycle of shit.

    That said, I love working from home and hope I can continue it as long as possible once things return to normal.

  71. Chaordic One*

    I didn’t like WFH when it started and I knew that I’d miss the interaction with my co-workers, which I dido and continue to do. But after a while, I got used to not having to spend 20 minutes to half an hour before and after work commuting. I put a small electric heater under my home desk and don’t have to put up with being cold. Sometimes, when I was doing correspondence I could listen to my radio (not when I’m dealing with a customer over the phone of course).

    I felt like I had just gotten the hang of it, when, boom, my employer starting monitoring my computer usage and I swear that now it is worse than being in the office. If I get up to run to the restroom or go the kitchen to get a cup of tea they know and they comment on it. When I was in the office, no one monitored my restroom breaks or quick trips to the break room.

  72. Umm.... Can you come in on a Saturday?*

    I’m on the fence. I think I would like WFH if I had different job that was suited to it. My job is not very WFH friendly. We’ve had to create new all digital processes for things that previously were all paper, and being mailed or faxed (yes that’s how archaic we are. we’re a a state agency so that should explain the bureaucracy of it a bit). Anyway, I digress, I think I could tolerate WFH with a job suited to it and in normal circumstances where I could get socializing outside of the home. Or a hybrid model would be nice ,work a little from home, go in for meetings, etc. Right now I’m a little lonely (maybe I’m not as introverted as I thought) and being “always available” can be distracting and trying to keep track of everything digitally is hard. Though I do keep having some panic/anxiety thoughts about trying to fit back in my clothes if they call us back. I have to put “get new pants” on my to-do list.

  73. Cruciatus*

    I work at an academic library and we’re doing a variation of the hybrid model now. There are 3 of us staff members (non-librarians) who open the library and are there as support for the student staff workers. Since there are 3 of us we come in every 3 days. So this means you work on site 2 days a week, 2 days a week, 1 day a week, repeat. I prefer this over having a set schedule because we get to see different people on different days we’re due in. The only weird part is that I never see my fellow staff coworker or my supervisor.

    But this does help with keeping a better routine, I get to be a little social on those days I’m due in, I feel more productive now on those days on site, and I get to see walls other than my own. So I grumble a little on days I have to actually get up early to get there, but once I’m there I’m usually glad I am.

  74. nerfherder*

    My role is still WFH, but the office is open and I had to go in a few weeks ago for something. While I was there, the only thing I could hear were people going in and out of the breakroom and bathroom, which are near my desk. I couldn’t focus for a minute, because it was so distracting. I can’t believe I used to work day in and day out with that! I guess in the I just got used to it in the Before Times. But it gave me a new appreciation for my home setup.

    Which isn’t an unbridled advertisement for remote work, either. I do miss seeing my colleagues quite a bit. And I agree with the commenter above that says everything is 20% more difficult without the ability to have spontaneous in-person chats. Plus, we bought a house riiiiight before covid hit, and it’s just a smidge too small for 24/7 work and life. My husband and I are both set up in the little “sitting area” at the front of our house for lack of any other option, which is both an ugly solution (you walk in our front door and all you see are cables, monitors, a printer, etc.) and extremely not-ideal when we both have meetings at the same time. Which happens a lot. Sometimes I’ll take meetings in my bedroom for privacy, but the internet signal isn’t as good up there.

    If my husband and I went down to working from home on alternating days, I think it would be perfect. We could share one desk and pare down the mess in our house, and avoid the simultaneous meeting issue, all without having to ramp fully back up to the daily grind of terrible commutes, etc.

  75. Two in one*

    “It doesn’t feel so much like we’re ‘working at home’ right now but instead we’re ‘living at work.’ ”

    This really resonated with me. Due to being in a small apartment with a partner who also is working from home, in order to make sure that we can close a door between us when we’re on calls, I unfortunately ended up having my full desk set up in the same room where I sleep. That room has started to feel like my office where I sleep, rather than my bedroom with a desk in the corner.

    Before COVID I still went in even on days when WFH was allowed, just to avoid the boring loneliness and FOMO of staying home. I think my pining for the office is somewhat of a “grass is greener” situation, though. Before this, I had a lot of serious complaints about my commute and other issues very specific to physically being in the office.

  76. KateM*

    I have been WFH while maintaining childcare (albeit just a few hours) for several years, so I’m a whiz at checking tests with one hand while holding a baby with other and singing lullabies non-stop. So for our family, the current situation is a walk in the park – no commutes for husband and teens, sleeping late whenever possible. Someone has to take care of the little ones while, say, three other persons each have their Zoom lessons/work to do, but the few lessons I have in a week I have managed to fix on times my husband does not have such, so it works out nicely. And we have always been homebodies as well, so we are not pining for fjords, either.

  77. Anna Feruglio*

    Getting out of the office to work from home has been the best thing that happened to me in years. But I must say that my office was a cramped windowless room two floors underground with music on all the time. I don’t know how we will cope when we’ll have to go back.
    I was having serious problems with my sick leave, because I suffer from migraine. Well, it turns out that I can work even ill if I can be in a quiet dark environment where I know I can have medication, food and hydration on hand. And my depression evaporated. Even my relationships with my colleagues have improved.

  78. Mmmmm*

    I’m a healthcare worker who is currently on leave for PTSD from working during the pandemic. I would do anything to trade places with one of you. Please try to have some perspective.

  79. Gemma*

    I’m definitely one of these people. I enjoy having people around me as it keeps me on track more than at home. I find it easier to concentrate in the office, the tech is faster and more reliable, the temperature is consistent and comfortable. I also commute by bike every morning and love the routine of that, really missed it during lockdown. Being in the office is voluntary here atm, but I’m going in most days. (FYI I live in Australiain a no-Covid state, so it’s much safer here than elsewhere in the world,we’re so lucky.)

  80. babblemouth*

    I love working from home, but the one thing I miss a lot is the whisper network. My team became very clique-y with the arrival of a new boss, but that was manageable while we could catch things and find out of changes through coffee machine chat. Now that we’re missing this, we have a situation where many team members find out about projects they could have requested went to the same people, or that changes are made without any consultation and we’re often left feeling blindsided. I realize this is a missing stair kind of problem; ideally none of this would be happening; but in many other ways this was a great workplace that has been rendered toxic by WFH.
    I think we’re going towards a hybrid system post-pandemic; I think that might end up being the best of both worlds.

  81. Mockingjay*

    Late to comment on this one; I had yesterday off. I’ve been getting really antsy about not being in the office – my home set-up is less than ideal. But my company is adamant that offices will remain closed through the end of the year, for the safety of all. (Bless you for putting people first, Current Job!)

    Had I known we were going to be WFH for months and months, I would have definitely grabbed more of my stuff from the office. My home ‘desk’ is two small sewing tables pushed together. Different heights, too. I had my portable monitor propped up on a puzzle box to get it somewhat level.

    So I decided to get a few things to make my workspace a little nicer. (I’m saving tons of gas and lunch money, so there’s a little extra in the bank.) First, I rearranged the tables into an L-shape, which fits the room corner. Then I bought a new USB keyboard. The company offers a basic wired, but I found an ergonomic wireless keyboard for $36 online at Staples. I ordered a riser for my laptop which brought the screen up to eye level (no more neck strain) and has room underneath for the new keyboard. I also ordered a corner riser for the portable monitor, which will be in this week. Finally, I bought a fabric-covered desk organizer with lots of compartments to hold steno pads, pens, phone, post-its…It corralled tons of stuff in a very small space and makes the ‘desk’ look more professional. I spent about$100 total. I was actually excited to start work this morning!

    I’ve been toying with buying a new desk – we need a bigger one for home use anyway. Most companies are out of stock (after back to school e-learning home orders), so I signed up for email notices when the desks come back in. Then I’ll decide.

  82. Susie Q*

    I love working from home. Granted I am exhausted because I’m watching my 16 month old too but I feel so much more productive.

  83. lilsheba*

    I’m lucky I guess in that my kids are all grown up and have their own homes, and I’m alone a good deal of the work day. I never got to work from home before and I LOVE IT!! I’m not miserable at all. I haven’t been miserable during lockdown or anything. The introvert in me is loving this.

    My office was always too bright, too loud and too hot. No more horrible overhead lighting, I have low level lamp and a salt lamp plus candles for light and it’s perfect. No commute makes all the difference too.

  84. Dr Logen*

    Can we get a “Being Forced to Work In-Person During a Pandemic is Making Me an Anxious, Terrified Mess” post?

    I know, working from home sucks for a lot of people, but it’s hard to care much about those struggles when I am being forced to interact with hundreds of risky college students in person every day for literally no reason other than the money the University would lose if we went remote.

  85. Jason*

    I absolutely love working from home. I don’t have to interact with toxic coworkers. I can still chat with the coworkers I do like. I’m still just as productive. I don’t have children so my situation might be different than it is for a lot of other people.

  86. Marie*

    I am almost completely Team WFH.

    Before Covid, I commuted over an hour each way. I was tired all the time, spending a ton on gas, putting a bunch of miles on my car, and would come home to a million things that had to get done in my apartment. Even silly things like – the laundromat takes its “last load” at 6:30, which means I ABSOLUTELY NEED TO LEAVE BY 4:45 TOMORROW. I found it hard to have time for friends and family during the week, because I was so tired. Working from home has given me so much more time.

    Oh, and don’t get me started on attire. The last time I wore yoga pants this many days in a row, I was in college (which was only 4 years ago, but…still).

    The downside is that my (multi-billion $) company is very flat, so you’d routinely run into the C-suite while getting your morning coffee. I don’t get any of that interaction now…but the benefits outweigh the downsides for me.

  87. GravityBites*

    I’m definitely in the camp of hating WFH but I’m not loving my job either, so even if I was back in the office I would probably leave. I know a lot of people in my team are loving work from home but they’ve been with the company for years. It has been working smoothly but that’s because (IMO) we’ve already established in person relationships and know each other’s working /managing style. I really wonder how easy others may find permanent WFH to be if they start a new role remotely? I have a friend who started a new job a month ago virtually and he feels further behind than he thought he’d be and feels lonely. This probably comes down to personal preference but I’d definitely feel nervous to switch jobs and have to train in a virtual environment. Things don’t click for me as easily that way vs in person training. For that reason I hope most companies do allow for a hybrid way of working as I recognize the benefits of remote work. It’s just not for me in this current pandemic situation.

  88. Mariana*

    I already worked from home a few days a week and I literally never want to go back to my office. I miss the silly banter among my colleagues. But we still do that via group instant messages and whatnot (even when in the office). The fact that I despise every part of my job probably doesn’t help, so I don’t want to add back the long commute and constant lack of sleep. Mind you, I neither have children nor a spouse to contend with at home; and I have plenty of room to dedicate to work.

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