WFH – everything I hoped it would be (almost)
Someone asked on a call last week, “Is everyone busier than ever with all this working from home? My response was, “well, yes and no.” This was apparently a surprise because every other tech worker he’d asked had answered with an “absolutely! So many Zoom calls…”
Do I have more calls than before? Yes, no doubt. But does that increase in calls equal the amount of time I used to spend around business travel? Not even close.
I’m a freelance contractor that works primarily with technical organizations run by volunteers. For the last nine years, I’ve made myself more valuable by being where the discussions happen – the hallways of conferences and meetings, anywhere and everywhere in the world. And that’s been fantastic – I have bridged across many organizations and working areas, helping people find other people doing exciting things in mutual areas of interest.
It’s also been exhausting. Permanent jet lag, juggling clients, constant surges in workload around conference targets… Whew! It’s something of a relief to step away from all of that and be able to smooth out my workflow. I’ve become more efficient across all my clients and ready to absorb the increase in calls without a blink.
But I miss those hallway conversations. The spontaneous brainstorming and coming up with new ideas to improve the Internet. The weird little digressions that turned people from names on a screen to real people that I would be more than happy to meet at the bar later. I miss all that. Social hour calls are all well and good, but it’s not the same as being at the bar, paying for an overpriced Scotch, and talking about The Meaning of Life (or at least, the meaning of scotch).
It will be interesting to see what the new normal will be once the restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic are lifted. Will there still be as many in-person conferences and meetings? For someone like me, it’s not an option to just say, “I won’t travel as much.” I travel to where the work is happening. But if the work happens remotely, and relationships are built via Zoom happy hours, it definitely won’t break my heart.
I really hope we find a new normal when all this is done.