It’s been quite the journey. COVID-19 really did a number on the entire world. We were…are all in the same storm, but the boat is quite different depending on country and access to resources.
Some of us set sail in a yacht to private island and set our return date as TBD. Some of us toiled in factories, shoulder to shoulder providing meat for the country and lost our lives after hours of work and while living in fear of spreading it to our beloveds. Then, there are the rest of us…somewhere in between these stark realities.
For those of us who remained gainfully employed AND switched to a status of working from home, our lives drastically changed. Suddenly, the commute was swapped from transporting miles down the road to steps into living room or office. What was a 15, 45 or 65 minute drive became a trip down the stairs. We likely already used Zoom, but now Zoom was a regular part of our day, along with frequent conference calls. We played Pandemic Bingo. Our internet plans had their mettle tested along with our patience for the co-worker that doesn’t seem to want to mute themselves while yelling at the Scruffy the dog. Give Scruffy a pat on the head, please!
But, we adjusted. We eventually settled into the short commute, homemade coffee, walks on our breaks and lunches on the patio. We adjusted to the reduced stress and for people of color, specifically African Americans…we were able to live our work lives with limited code switching.
And, now…now we are set to return. The return to the office is the expectation. September, to be specific for some. Many people are excited to go back into the office and they lament ever being forced to leave. There are some that are anxious to reconnect face to face and they are pushing for it and have been pushing for it ad nauseum. You may have encountered this person. They begin the meeting by saying “I know we all wish we were in person” or “I cannot wait until we are face to face again”. They project their feelings onto the rest of the individuals in the group. They are brazen with their disregard of needs, wants, desires of anyone unlike themselves. However, this person is often someone you wanted to avoid at the office. They have a toxic positivity vibe going. No real interest in the experiences of others…and an ego that makes Mt. Everest look like a mole hill… Can you picture this person? I can.
Oregon removed all COVID-19 precautions on June 30, 2021. I’ve received emails celebrating the return to in-person work. And, even now as Delta rages, the mask mandate has been lifted. Emails. So. Many. Emails. But, let me tell you how I feel about it…
I am far more productive working from home, my commute was non-existent which likely added years to the life of my car, reduced my carbon footprint and saved me many hours in the car and money NOT getting gasoline every week. The money I’ve saved, my accomplishments and the lack of a commute makes me smile.
But, let’s get a lil deeper here. Outside of this dag blastit weight gain, my health improved! Resting heart rate dropped, blood pressure better, less stress and I just feel good. No longer having to be mindful of how I speak being misconstrued as “angry” made a huge difference. You see, dear reader, some individuals like to “police” how others present to the world. Not having to be called negative because I said something was “okay” vs “super great” does wonders for the mind, body, soul. Not having people jump (yes, jump) when I walk by in office when I’ve worked there for years…has been glorious. Glorious, I say! Basically, not having to code switch every minute of the work day has been the best form of self-care.
I don’t want to go back to that reality of having to appear pleasing to a gaze that couldn’t care less about me. This distance has been good for my wellbeing. Sitting outside on my patio sipping coffee that I made in my home on my lunch break feels much better than a non-enviable commute. MUCH BETTER.
So…what…? Well, I will be honest with you, I do not know. It’s a peculiar situation. I do not want to leave my job and I am ever so grateful to have remained employed. However, I also know that I am not prepared to return to life as it was in 2019. So…what…?
The best I can offer to you in this moment where you may be like me - limited desire to return to in-person work is this:
Listen to your intuition
Be mindful of your boundaries
Keep an eye open for other employment as needed
Take part of “home” with you
Inquire if there are any options for flexibility with time in office vs working from home
Use your PTO! Don’t just let it sit in the bank, take a day off to do whatever gets you to good
Take your breaks! You should be doing this anyway, but this is going to be even more important now
Listen to yourself: are your needs being met in this environment? Remember, you need a salary that meets your needs, a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of respect in your work. I know I also appreciate opportunities to learn and grow. If your needs are not being met…
What’s the move, Love?