7 Reasons I Want To Work Remotely Forever
It took me a year to fall in love with working from home, but now I’m committed
Those of us in advertising and marketing have officially been working remotely for one calendar year. The Pan-iversary (I’m sorry) has come and gone, and we’re still waking up and dialing into roughly 4,000 meetings a day via Zoom or Teams. Still donning above-the-waist business attire (our cleanest hoodie) and below-the-waist “athleisure” (the same sweatpants we slept in). Still taking calls from our beds, kitchens, children’s rooms, backyards, front stoops, fire escapes, and bathrooms, depending on the size of our homes and with whom we share them.
And you know what? I’ve grown to love it.
In the early days, I found remote work to be abjectly miserable. I had crammed my “workspace” into the far end of my narrow galley kitchen in a one-bedroom Queens apartment, two feet from my garbage bin but directly in front of a south-facing window. Every afternoon, the sun poured in and heated my “office” to a broil, steaming me in a rotting-fruit-scented cloud of mist.
It wasn’t ideal.
So we fled to the west coast, trading all that New York City has to offer for a bigger apartment with actual outdoor space just blocks from the ocean. Once our living situation improved, a love of working remotely crept up on me, the positives (the immense privilege of being insulated from a global pandemic! Also, no commute!) eventually outweighing the negatives (I never get to see my work friends, who also happen to be my *actual* friends).
A year in, I am solidly Team Work Remotely Forever.
Here are a few reasons why:
THE LIFE-CHANGING JOY OF TIDYING UP
In the Before Times, I would let my apartment descend into entropy over the course of the week, then spend half my weekend cleaning it from top to bottom before repeating the cycle the following week.
Working from home allows me 5- and 10-minute breaks throughout the day to do what I think of as micro-chores: short tasks that add up to a mostly-tidy living space over the course of a day. If I have a break between meetings, I’ll load or unload the dishwasher or make the bed. If I have a longer break, or I’m on a meeting where I’m a listener and not an active contributor, I might sweep the floor or put away laundry. It means that at the end of a long week, I’m not facing hours of chores that eat into my weekend. It really is life-changing.
There are only so many $17 Sweetgreen salads one can consume before kale fatigue sets in. While I realize that most of us are sick to death of cooking (and cleaning up after) three meals a day, I’m not as tired of that routine as I was of the three or four go-to lunch spots around my old office.
I love sitting down to scrambled eggs in the morning, heating up last night’s dinner leftovers for lunch, and being able to prep dinner over the course of the afternoon rather than all at once.
Treating myself to lunch outside the office held a certain appeal, but I much prefer being able to put a pot of vegetable stock on to simmer as my day winds down, knowing that tonight’s soup won’t be a race to the finish. And even on days where there’s no sliver of daylight between back-to-back meetings, grabbing hummus and crackers from the fridge feels a whole lot better than donning my winter coat to venture to the bodega for a bag of Fritos and an unripe banana.
NOT BEING WATCHED
Anyone who has worked in an open office environment has felt that subtle twang of guilt in your gut when your boss happens to walk by your giant Mac monitor just as you’ve clicked away from the deck you’re working on and into the open tab where you’re adding samples to your Sephora basket.
Everyone does it! Everyone shops online during the work day, or peruses Twitter, or texts their child’s daycare to make sure she’s still in one piece.
Now that we work from home, we no longer have to be ashamed of homing from work. Having a quiet, *actually private* place to take a call with a doctor or mental health professional–rather than taking the call sotto voce in a not-even-close-to-soundproof, glass-walled “phone room”–is so nice. It shouldn’t feel like a luxury, yet it does.
When companies began to almost uniformly transition to fully open offices about a decade ago, it signaled to workers that they don’t trust us to spend the work day actually working, or to have a closed-door meeting with colleagues–unless that door is see-through. But the vast majority of us are more productive working remotely, where no one is hovering nearby, watching us decide between the hyaluronic acid toner or the brightening serum in the brief two-minute respite between a bloated four-hour block of meetings.
Being able to light a candle, put on a healing frequencies playlist (shoutout to my husband, who does this every morning), and drape myself in a nubby throw blanket? What a gift.
I love that while I work, I’m surrounded by things that make me feel comfortable and happy. To my right, a small mountain of fruit piled in my beloved East Fork Pottery bowl. To my left, a cross stitch made by a friend, and a custom painting of my cat. Under my keyboard, a vintage indigo tablecloth instead of a vast desert of particleboard slicked in white veneer.
Never underestimate the power of good vibes.
MY OFFICE MATES
I fear this may inspire some eye-rolling, but I really love working at home with my spouse.
Rather than mornings spent careening past one another through the apartment in an underslept haze and sprinting to the subway to take separate trains, we have coffee together in the kitchen. Occasionally, we even have lunch together on our patio table. It’s really nice to see the person you vowed to spend your life with for more than a few waking hours a day.
My cat, I’m sure, would prefer to have the run of the apartment like in the Before Times, but ruining her naps with a vigorous head rub is a great excuse to stretch my legs every hour or so. The lack of furry colleagues is a big check in the “cons” column for in-office work.
EASY ACCESS TO OUTSIDE
The building I worked in back in New York–a gray and hulking postmodern beast just east of the Hudson River–was hard to escape.
Squeezing onto packed elevators during the daily lunch rush was a contact sport; taking the stairs to the roof felt subversive and dangerous; the balcony surrounding our floor was permanently inaccessible, because who in their right mind would let a bunch of depressed agency folk anywhere near an 11-story drop?
My home office setup is in my small dining room, the brightest space in my apartment; I have easy access to the kitchen and a fantastic view of a tree whose branches are irresistible to all manner of neighborhood birds: the California Towhee, Cooper’s Hawk, Allen’s Hummingbird, and my favorite, the Yellow-Rumped Warbler, also known as a Butter Butt (!). Taking a break from staring at my screen to gaze out at my plucky feathered friends never ceases to buoy my spirit.
If I need to actually *inhale* the fresh air instead of look at it, I step out onto my patio and pick the shriveled leaves off my jade plant. Five-minute fresh air breaks and frequent avian visitors make my nest of a home office extremely pleasant.
I’m immensely grateful to have been able to work from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the widespread adoption of masks and hand-washing has shone a bright light on the pure idiocy of going to work sick, as so many of us did prior to 2020.
Can you imagine, in a post-Covid world, someone showing up to the office with a bad cough? Sitting mere feet from someone who is sick and clearly contagious? It feels insane that we ever thought that was normal!
The lack of a public transit commute and spending a year devoid of indoor contact with other people has kept me from catching so much as the sniffles; in fact, cases of the flu hit historic lows this year due to Covid-19 safety protocols.
And with a commute-free lifestyle giving me two hours back in my day, I’ve been sleeping better and exercising more. I even drink more water, because I don’t have to walk half a city block to refill my Hydroflask.
As delighted as I am by the occasional Butter Butt sighting, there’s a lot I miss about office life: the little interactions at Free Bagel Friday; the good-natured power struggles that arise when 50 adults share a bluetooth speaker and a Spotify login; the impassioned debates about Love Island and the latest Christopher Nolan film and whether cereal is a soup.
But the good thing about being *actual* friends with my work friends is that they’re all just a text/Zoom/FaceTime away, and they’re welcome to work from my home office any time–as long as they don’t mind sharing space with the birds.