Working at home saved my career


I have been lucky through the years — I worked in telecom a bunch and they were way ahead in letting their workers work at home. So I have done so pretty regularly at least part-time.

But in March of 2020, I was ordered to stay home! The pandemic was heating up, the numbers were disturbing and the healthcare company I was consulting at was very aware of the need to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Up until that time, I was working onsite every day. The commute was not terrible, about 25 minutes. I wasn’t officially allowed to work at home. I had settled into the routine and knew all my co-workers, so staying home was really an easy transition. Teams kept us connected, I had daily meetings on my projects, and I had my assignments. I didn’t skip a beat!

I slowly adjusted to not having a fabulous cafeteria on campus. I missed walking there (it was pretty far away and I had a little built-in exercise which I missed). I missed seeing people casually the most. The hellos in the hallway, the random lunches with different folks. I missed the interactions.

What I didn’t miss is having to get it all together in the morning. The clothes, my hair, preparing lunch, packing it all up, and getting into the car on time. After many years of this, it gets old and you relish not having to do it each day. You get all that prep time back and you get the commuting time back too. I first worked in the living room, spread out, and even watched the midday news during lunch.

My husband was ordered home too, but he was in the “office,” so we were separated. My son was at college, so I wasn’t inconveniencing him. When he came home in May however I needed to move.

Eventually, we rearranged our bedroom so that I could buy a desk and squeeze it in in front of my dresser. It is actually really comfy, about the size of cubicles I was used to working in. BUT the bathroom was way closer and the coffee was really good and that was close too.

At first, I dressed like a slob. Even when we turned on our cameras, I just had to have a decent shirt on and had to brush my hair. But as the months and then years dragged on, I decided that I deserved better clothes and invested in some that would also be appropriate if they made me go back into the office. I noticed I felt WAY better out of sweat pants and stuff. Just matching a top with pants made me feel more human and pulled together. Earrings helped too.

I have to tell you I cannot believe I have been home steadily working for almost 2 and a half years! And it hasn’t even been the same job. I started at one healthcare company, got laid off after a while (contract ran out that summer), ended up at a medical device company, and finally landed at Verizon (where I have worked 3 other times, they like to ask consultants back). All remote! I think I went in twice at the medical device company, so I did meet my coworkers. But at my current job at Verizon, I have never met my coworkers in person! I know them quite well and talk to them every week.

Over time, I really settled into a routine and I love my 8-foot commute! There is so much less stress in my mornings. I feel like older workers in particular could work longer if they could work remotely. I love the extra time I have without the commute. I save money on lunches and gas for the car. If I still had younger kids at home, that would be easier too!

I started to write this piece because I realized that I was looking forward to working tomorrow. It’s a Tuesday night. I can’t remember looking forward to working like this before. It’s a great feeling. And I think it’s because everything has been distilled down to just the work, not the extra stuff.

That being said, I know that if I lived alone it could be rough and if I was younger I would miss the social interaction more. So it’s not for everyone.

But for older workers, in particular, it can be great!

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