The Pandemic Changed My View on Remote Work

Over the last year, the pandemic has locked down the province of Ontario three times. As cases rose the governments had to take the necessary steps to flatten the curve – and I’m not here to debate that.

During the first lockdown I was already working remotely, and my life as a result felt relatively unchanged. I also don’t live in Toronto or the surrounding area so many businesses near me were still open with reduced capacity. For the most part, life felt normal.

In September of 2020 I found a new job (which I love!) that required me to be in the office on a typical 9-to-5 schedule. Truth be told it took some getting used to after working a remote contract position. Over time I got used to the office and started to really enjoy the schedule and being surrounded by like-minded coworkers – and I still do!

Then came the next two lockdowns. These felt more severe and they completely changed my view of the ideal work life. I didn’t think about this until I saw this tweet, and figured I should write a blog post anyways, so here it is!

What Changed

While working remotely, I had a life outside of work that consisted of people and stuff in the real world. Real life, in-person interaction is significantly different from online interactions. There are conversations and jokes that can only be told in person. The internet and text by nature doesn’t convey emotion or sarcasm and that is a huge limiting factor.

Now fast forward to today’s stricter lockdown, where I’m working from home again but without anything to do outside of the house. Apart from the odd encounter with a neighbour or a phone call from a friend, things just aren’t the same.

I’ve started to realize that unless there’s a family life or a heavily integrated social life in a remote worker’s schedule, this lockdown lifestyle is really easy to fall into even when there are no lockdowns. Staying home, getting your food delivered and having instant entertainment is a great way to slowly become the person that just never leaves home – and that’s really dangerous. I just don’t want to become that person.

You know it’s bad when even the introvert wants to be social again!

Home Should not be Work

I’ve also started to notice that I don’t want to sit in my office during weekends because my brain now equates it to work. Don’t get me wrong – I love my job. But I don’t want to work 7 days a week and my brain knows that. This makes it hard to work on any project outside of work and kind of takes the fun out of tinkering for fun.

For me personally, leaving work at work is a huge benefit of working in an office. It’s such a luxury to not have to worry about work after hours (unless stuff breaks), and it’s a huge reason why I look forward to returning to the office.

Learning Should be Prioritized

I’m not sure this applies to senior developers, since they’re often part of developer circles where they can bounce ideas off each other easily. I’m on the intermediate level and can absolutely say it’s a big help to have other developers around even on the same level. Just being able to ask questions or pair together is very valuable.

This is something that remote work complicates a little bit, but it’s still totally doable. I think part of me just enjoys how frictionless the office setting makes this.

Will I Work Remotely Again?

For the right role – yes. I think the key is to get more experience and try to grow as quickly as I can. I think remote work is great for those that excel at managing a social life outside of work, can stay motivated and are good at separating work from the rest of life.

I can definitely see the appeal for professionals with families or time consuming outside obligations. I can also see the appeal for people with long commutes – something I don’t need to worry about right now.

All in all remote work definitely has it’s place, but I’m just not convinced it’s right for me currently. With all this being said, I’m excited for my office to invite me back!

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