A year at home.
It was a year ago today, at 1:48pm, that we got “the email.”
“The potential need to work from home (WFH) for an extended period may soon become our reality. . . . We want all employees to be prepared to WFH all next week, but we definitely want all employees to WFH Monday and Tuesday. . . . Again, you should be prepared to be home all next week.”
Whoa. As an agency that, while always offering flexibility for staff, prided itself on its in-office culture, this was pretty wild. But, hey. We’ll just work a quick week from home, nip this pandemic in the bud, then head back to the office, right? What naive summer children we were.
It’s hard not to look back at that email and laugh (not “haha!” laugh, but more maniacal laughing through tears) because, just shy of 365 days later, we’re still at home. And it has been quite a roller coaster.
Work-wise, it feels like we never skipped a beat. Sure, our dining room tables now have at least two screens and stacks of notebooks, our garages became the new mail rooms, and we’ve all said “I think you’re on mute” approximately 4,564 times, but it’s been as usual as “business as usual” could be for Team CW/Praxis.
However, for many of us, the collision of work and home life has defined the past 12 months – CW parents (the true MVPs) juggled playtime and naptime with weekly calls, dogs barked in the background of Zoom meetings, and cats leisurely traipsed across keyboards. (Plus, it’s easy to forget that we’ve all been living through a once-in-a-lifetime global event while dealing with all of the above. Mental health check, anyone?)
What’s it been like? For me, it’s been hard, but also a much-needed reset. It’s been exhausting, but also kind of great to cut my commute from 30 minutes to 30 steps. I’ve been productive without the usual office distractions, but I’ve also intensely missed these impromptu meetings or afternoon team coffee runs. I’ve felt isolated, but also a deep sense of camaraderie and togetherness with my colleagues.
Above all, it’s just been really weird. And I think my colleagues agree. We asked our Crowley Webb and Praxis crew to reflect on their year from home. Here’s what we heard.
What does WFH look like at your house?
“There are times I do have my daughter with me while I work, and this sums up the ways I keep her entertained while I am near my computer. Side note, she doesn’t care about her toys, only wants to try to get my computer cords and type on the keyboard.”
What has been your biggest key learning experience (personal or professional) after a year at home?
“I have more patience(ish) than I thought I did. Being at home with two little humans is tough, but it also taught me how to prioritize, not sweat the small stuff, and buy wine in bulk.”
“I can be just as productive at home as I am in the office.”
“The best part of working from home is bouncing ideas off my new office buddy! She’s much more creative than I am. 🙂”
“Remember to take time to just ‘be’ and to disconnect. Especially being at home, there’s this idea that you have to always be available and ‘on’ all the time – either by email, text, social media, etc. But it’s important to give yourself that much-needed downtime where you’re disconnected and able to focus on yourself and your own needs, whether it be mentally, emotionally, physically, or whatever you need. This applies to both personal and professional life – you need a break from both.”
What has been the best part of working from home?
“Knowing that I’m doing my part to keep my colleagues safe. Also, getting to spend so much time with all our fur children – they love that I’m here with them for all the pets and snuggles they need throughout the day.”
“Leggings. Oh, and being able to take my kids to school and/or pick them up, throw in a load of laundry, and watch Friends on my lunch break.”
“The hours that are normally spent in traffic are spent with my daughter, who just turned eight months old. I feel like I get extra time with her, and for that I am grateful.”
“Last summer I had the best tan of my life!”
What has been the hardest part of working from home?
“Training our new hires has been much more difficult being at home – what I wouldn’t give to be able to sit next to them and show them how to do things in person, on multiple screens at once.”
“The minimal human interaction I get (outside my family) and staring at the same four walls for hours, days, months at a time.”
Most embarrassing Zoom moment?
“My five-year-old walked behind me during a video call . . . half-dressed and talking about her recent victory in the bathroom.”
“I wasn’t muted and I whispered, ‘I love you.’ I was talking to my dog.”
“Right at the beginning of this, I was on a client call. A BIG client call, with a lot of people. I was on mute and I was hungry (it was lunchtime). So I started snacking on some carrots sticks (a.k.a. the loudest snack ever). Suddenly I hear our client say, ‘we’re getting a lot of background noise, if everyone could make sure they’re on mute that’d be great’ and a colleague messages me to say, ‘I think someone is eating really loudly, do you hear that??’ To which I of course had to admit it was me, eating my carrot sticks. Turns out I had called in by phone and on the computer and I had only unmuted one of them. I was incredibly embarrassed – everyone got to hear the VERY loud sounds of me snacking away.”
“At the beginning of us working from home, I joined our weekly internal status meeting of more than 20 people from the app on my phone for the first time. At the end of the meeting, someone goes, ‘Is Christina on and who’s Tuna?!’ Little did I know the app automatically pulled the name of what I called my iPhone. So now at home and at work, I’m Tuna.”