Working From Home
MegaSoftwareCo doesn’t really mind people working from home. Heck, some people do all of their work remotely.
Once I started taking tickets again, I decided to do the same.
For the next month, I logged in from the comfort of my living room and went at it. And I learned that there are pros and cons to this arrangement.
After a few weeks, I feel distant from everything. Without the stimulus of being physically present with other people, there’s a hollowness inside that wasn’t there before. It’s difficult to articulate, but my guess is that I was lonely.
Let me clarify something here. It isn’t that I didn’t interact with people. I was engaging people constantly. Over any given business day, I sent twenty or thirty emails, received forty, and plugged into multiple instant messenger chatrooms full of teammates. This volume of social interaction doesn’t even count phone calls with customers, which took up a minimum of three to four hours a day.
After a month of working from home exclusively, I realized that the whole work-from-home-every-day thing isn’t good for me. So I head back into the offices again for a few days a week, just to see people. Problem basically solved.
Look, it’s important to physically get together with other people, in general. At least, it is for me. Virtual interactions are a synthetic substitute for real social activity, sort of like drinking liquid meals. Sure, those packets of powder are fortified with vitamins and, when mixed with milk, satisfy all of your nutritional requirements and keep you alive. But your body knows something’s wrong. You can’t trick it entirely because it understands that this is not real food and so you’re still hungry and you just feel kind of off.
Two days a week was sufficient. I’d make sure to go to lunch with a few of my old engineering friends from StartupVille, maybe shoot the breeze with my old manager over coffee, and just say hi to random people to get a glimpse of how their day was going.
It also became more important for me to see friends after work.
The core issue here is that all of my virtual teammates felt like exactly that — virtual. I know they physically take up space in the world somewhere but still, they just didn’t seem real to me. On the one hand, I was a part of a team, but on the other hand, these folks were all invisible. In theory, we fought the goblin horde of customers together, but in practice, they couldn’t really be counted on, because we had no real connections with one another.
So when the going got tough, I felt isolated and alone. There was no one to rely on. It was me and a bunch of floaty Caspers going to war against an opposition that was, on the other hand, 100% genuine, with mass and weight and everything.