As well as for people and community
My husband and I are millennials and we both love working from home. It allows us to travel freely, visit family more often, engage in more health oriented activities like yoga and camping, and to spend more time with our pets. The one thing I think wfh has added to my life is the flexibility to write at my own pace and rather focus on enriching my inner life than spending time learning trivial office gossips and commuting through noisy traffic tires me beyond belief. I am a hypersensitive personality type and also an introvert who doesn’t thrive in loud office culture so wfh is a bliss for me. I have found more meaningful ways to connect both amongst digital communities like substack and in real life by spending time where like minded people hang out the most. 💜🌼
I started a home business in 1996, when my daughter was in first grade - I was a only parent and she was my only child. I was out of work on medical leave at the time, and realized that I didn't want my daughter to be stuck on the after school playground at her school in L.A. so I set myself up with a start-up aromatherapy business with a $300 initial investment. A neighbor got his retail store to by my products, I did craft shows, vending at Venice Beach on the weekends, occasionally I worked part time as a floral designer, which had been my trade for since 1980. Eventually I took my business online, it was a lot of work, but it paid off over time and she went all through school with me working from home. No longer in that business, I let it go in 2016, I am semi-retired and work as a freelance editor, proofreader, writing tutor and photographer.
After years of being self-employed I returned to a 9-5 in 2017. I was one of those people that found a new job when their old job wanted them to return to the office after COVID. I now work 100% remote and am able to live wherever is best for me. The thing I miss is the friendships I made working in an office but I don't miss the spending on clothes, the overpriced rent, or the lack of natural light. And I can confidently say that my dog is also very happy that I never went back to an office. :-)
I’ve heard from countless individuals with chronic illness over the last 4 years how grateful they are to now work from home. These hard-working, resilient and problem-solving masters often had to give up careers because their bodies couldn’t function in the old way, but are thriving and contributing now, thanks to that ol’ pandemic.
I spent a lot of my working life in offices, commuting daily, at one point 3 hours a day back and forth. Then I did something completely different and ran a scuba diving business for a few years. I spent a fair amount of time at a laptop in those days but it was balanced by a lot of outdoor time, too. Now I’m self-employed, working again at a desk as a copywriter. I’m more productive when working from home. I’ve set up my office and desk space to make the most of the natural light in my flat, and I get fresh air from an open window. I don’t miss the sore throats, dry eyes and fatigue that comes from working inside an artificial environment with harsh lighting and a constant undertone of noise from the machinery that keeps that environment intact. The hours I get back from commuting are quietly absorbed by ‘life admin’ – doing laundry, shopping or the washing up, and also nicer things like cooking most of my meals from scratch, taking a walk or having a slightly longer lunch with friends. I love cooking and eat healthier meals now I work from home. Whenever I have to work from an office, these everyday tasks end up taking over my weekends – which become very precious indeed. The only thing I miss is the social element. Bouncing ideas off other people, those lightbulb moments that come from unexpected conversations in the office kitchen. If offices had windows that opened, natural light and were not open plan, I might go into them more often!
Great piece, and I agree with every single one of your points. I do work from home since covid, and it's been overall positive for me + the opportunity to move out to a suburb for more green spaces and a better community. I was especially struck by your word 'captive' in the phrase 'tenants were a captive audience'... an excellent way to visualize how suffocating and painful at times feels to live in tiny downtown spaces.
On the other hand, I'd like to add a new perspective to this topic: I think working fully remotely has been detrimental for single people, to a certain extent. Offices and office cafeterias used to be places to socialize, meet colleagues of colleagues, maybe find a partner. It's not a coincidence that most people who favor remote work give as reasons time spent with spouse/family, childcare, etc. What about when you don't have a family and children to give more time to?
When I left my toxic museum job, it was partly because my boss was a manic tyrant and was mad that I picked my son up from school and took him home--because my husband and I both worked and had no other way to manage it--and returned to work. Not kidding. It was ridiculously old school and misogynist thinking and ways of working, despite a female boss. I realized the toll it was taking on my health with chronic migraines, and trying to work 60+ hours a week while still trying to be a presence in my youngish son's life at the time. Then covid hit and I had to laugh at the irony--everyone had to work from home! 🤦🏻♀️ I continued to ask why it was ok to be expected to work around the clock at home but not during the work day for myself and for other staff I managed who were stretched so thin. It was nonsensical and about our boss' control. And since I'm now freelance and writing and working from home I realize how much emotional labor it took for me to play that game, both at the museum and in the corporate type world before that. I just did it because it was what you do, without really thinking if it was what I wanted or if there could be another way--I was all set to prove I could hack it and be a director, manager, curator, etc. Oof. My introvert self has never been so happy in my adult life, honestly, being able to work at home and write, and be available as needed for my son's last teenage years in our home as he gets ready for college. And be around dogs. ;) So wfh is a gift--I feel like the people I hear who really are demanding that people need to get back to the office are the managers, bosses, and ceo's who have wives or other family at home to support them, not the other way around, and economists who are wringing their hands over ridiculously sterile, consumptive office buildings. 😉
My husband is more available to my kids since working more from home. Also traffic is so much better going East/west. Agree with you that there are so many benefits.
It's not the backdrop of distraction. It's the lack of ability to create what we want and need to create. Neurodivergents are the most creative. We are prompt driven people. We are the most adept at change because we use all the prompts from the world in that moment to create the best solution needed for that moment.
The more neurodivergent you are the more your super focus and special interest will blot out the rest of the world no matter what the situation is. It's the condition we are forced to create in that disables. It's making other people's dreams and ideas a reality that impairs our creative intelligence. We are the smartest in our thing. We are the savants of one area. You come to us to understand and create something because we will see it in more perspectives than all others combined. Our solutions last and endure. We are being put into molds when no mold coukd or should ever contain us. Freedom from hierarchy is the answer. Freedom to make what is needed in our time, in our way will give you every solution we need to survive.
The biggest challenge I have from working from an office is the commute. The commute to commute, while I actually do enjoy it, and use it as an opportunity to stare at the ceiling, fan, or read a book, or just relax for a minute, it eats into the time that I dedicate to cooking. I cook most nights, and I am having a hard time adjusting the operational procedures of my day to cook the day before, or just eat something raw, like premade salads, things like that. That’s my biggest challenge! But I agree with all of your points above!
I do not miss having to people or get dressed up to resemble a human AT ALL. I do have a part time job that pays the rent, but it's flexible hours.