March 21, 2020

WFH. Work From Home. Or, as I think of it at times, What’s fucking happening?

10 days ago, as I write this, was the last day I worked at my office. The university where I am employed scheduled a test work remote day on Thursday, March 12th. By the end of the day it had been extended to include Friday. By the end of Friday we were all told to work remotely for the foreseeable future, at least through the end of the semester.

As an IT professional my job is well suited to remote work. There are entire IT companies that are 100% distributed. Last autumn, due to some HACV work in my building, that uncovered asbestos, we all worked from home for a week. That was fun actually. Going from a work-in-the-office with other people setting, to working-at-home by yourself, as been an adjustment. Knowing that this is reality for the next two, three, or more, months, puts an entirely different spin on it.

I’m an introvert, and I like things to be just so. Working from home appeals to those aspects of my personality. I also appreciate some amount of what I call “social friction.” The act of interacting with other people, in person, feeds some part of me. I miss that part of being “at” work. I don’t miss the noise and interruptions, the smells, and wonky temperature from the HAVC system.

I am incredibly fortunate that my wife, Sibylle, has a very similar temperament. She is also an introvert, and is someone content within herself. She is fortunate enough to have found a way to make her piano studio work remotely. We have found a rhythm that works for us, here in our home.

I get up at my normal work day time. I shower and get dressed as if I were going to the office, and then have breakfast. Then I come into my home office and start my day. At lunch time I leave work and go out in the rest of the house for lunch. I have eaten lunch at home most days for over a decade, so that part of my daily routine hasn’t changed. After lunch I return to work until the end of the day when I come home. My wife has her morning routine and then goes to her piano studio on the lower level of our house, and works on lessons and video critiques for her students. During the day we exchange emails and texts, exactly like we did before COVID-19. Keeping as much normalcy as possible has made this transition easier for us. It has helped to ground us at a time when everything seems ungrounded and out of control.

The coming weeks and months will be interesting and challenging. I think Sibylle and I will be able to navigate those challenges and find ways to care for ourselves. I hope the world at large can do the same thing. I fear for many that the sudden upending of regular life, will prove devastating and difficult to adjust to. Our society, the world’s society, will forever be different following this pandemic.

For now, I’m, we are, working from home, wondering what’s fucking happening.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.