COVID-19 has changed things completely. In a matter of days I have switched from being in an office every day to being at home 24/7. It's not typical WFH, but it does contain a large proportion of the WFH experience. I want to breakdown and understand the pros/cons and highs and lows of the whole experience as it progresses.
So far the 2 biggest factors to me have been the change to routine and the change to interactions throughout the day.
BC (Before COVID) I had a fairly consistent routine built around getting to work for 8am and leaving at 4pm.
- Get up at 6
- Breakfast, Shower and get ready for work
- Commute to work for 8
- Lunch walk to a shop for food
- Finish around 4
- Grab some food from the supermarket as I pass by
- Get home for 5
Day one of WFH had some huge differences, especially with the changes to shopping (1 shop per week) and exercise (1 activity < 30 mins per day).
- No commute + 1hr
- No shopping + 15 mins
- No Lunch trip + 1hr
That's over 2 hours of free time gained a day (or 10 hours a week)! Not to mention the extra minutes where I can put laundry on or fill the dishwasher, all while I wait for the kettle to boil. It's given me back time to catch up on chores and get most of the weekends tasks done earlier so I can free up my weekend… to stay at home! 😂
This seems like it's one of the biggest pluses of WFH. I have time to make myself more time! Plus the house has never been so clean!
I think I didn't realise how much interaction there was in a day at the office until we went remote.
- Casually chatting code with fellow devs by rolling a chair across to their desks.
- Finding out about personal code projects and hobbies while we walked to the shop at lunch.
- Catching up with people when they arrive in the office every morning.
- Chatting to people in the kitchen while I made a cup of tea, or while making some lunch.
- Even just a "Hey how's X going?" as you walk past someone's desk!
The key thing about all of these are that they are immediate. To use a programming term - They are
synchronous - existing or occurring at the same time.
COVID favours an
asynchronous model. There is less taking place over mediums where a reply is instant. Conversations have moved to a state where things have to wait to move along. Slack conversations we're always this but they have become the major part of interactions.
We still have scheduled Hangouts - Daily stand-up over Hangouts work just as well as before. Our tech catchup and knowledge sharing sessions are more focused and organised just by the necessity of having to share knowledge! And socials are now over Zoom!
There's still lessons to learn and gaps to fill, but we're learning quickly and filling those gaps:
- Sharing our working patterns and status are key to helping each other. Now I make a point of saying when I am on lunch or in a meeting so others can adjust their expectation on how long it will take for a reply.
- Using the time in meetings is crucial, especially with more meetings than ever before - we need to use the time efficiently.
- Reaching out to others to catch up - It's easy to get stuck in your bubble and not communicate with colleagues across the company.
- Documentation & process has become even more important so that we're all on the same page.
WFH experience: 8/10
It's been a few interesting weeks, and we don't know how many more will follow after this. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn something about how we work and change things for the better when things return to normal. It's hard to put a judgement on my feelings on the whole WFH experience in this situation because this isn't normal by any stretch of the imagination.
There are some positives around the extra time - Once we return to normal it would be a shame to slip back and not keep these, however it's also very important to interact and communicate with other people which requires a change in mindset and habits. These will come with time and experience.
I'd probably rate the experience as higher, but I need to leave room for things to improve.
It's shit! A humanitarian crisis and massive disruption to everybody's lives. It's not good, and the sooner we get past it and resume "life as normal" the better it will be for everyone.