COVID: One Year Later - 3 Lessons Learned While ‘Working-From-Home’
On St. Patrick's Day 2020, I was having an absolutely wonderful dinner overlooking a beautiful harbor with a spectacular sunset on very warm night in Cape Coral Florida with my friend….totally alone! Everyone else at the resort had either chosen to not go out, or, had already left the property.
We had flown down to Florida the day the World Health Organization had declared the pandemic. I watched the TV on that Saturday when then President Trump declared a National Emergency.
After 3 days at one of the last in-person trade shows anywhere, (but just happened to be in the Miami area) we took 3 days afterwards to drive across Alligator Alley, and landed at a wonderful resort to take some downtime for ourselves.
We sat at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, outside, sans masks, mostly alone, at one of the prettiest places on earth, with no need for social distancing, because…there was no one there!
The plane ride home was unbelievably, incredibly, remarkably, uncomfortable. Everyone was anxious and scared, because no one had any idea of how to handle the present moment we were in, never mind the uncertain future we all faced. It was, of course, just the very beginning of our collective COVID work-from-home experience (#WFH).
Upon my return, I quickly checked in with my boss inquiring how we were handling the situation. "You have a laptop and a cell phone, stay home" he said. I have not stepped foot in the office even once since.
We are now an unbelievable 365 days later. Into a world none of us could have imagined, predicted, or had any possible idea of how to handle. I know it, I admit it, I'm a dinosaur, but, I'm very proud that I found the ability, capacity, and tenacity to adapt.
Here are my 3 Great Life Improvements that I've discovered during this Working-From-Home experience during the last twelve months;
1. Productivity. With a laptop and cell phone; work, connectivity, and progress goes on….from anywhere. I read early in the pandemic that Isaac Newton had to leave Cambridge University in 1665 due to the bubonic plague and developed both calculus and his theory of gravity…from home! The trend was already well in motion regarding having more freedom and flexibility in our work schedules. It is now on a non-stop-track-forever-forward path. I can work early, late, either or both, mid-day or not. In order to do be successful at my job, and many other careers now and into the future, in available work-from-home professions, it's about getting things done and creating results, not feeling tethered to a desk from 9-to-5. I've experienced an amazing productivity explosion work-wise.
2. Healthiness. I'm eating better. I am much less likely to grab bad drive-through meals or quick sandwiches coming-and-going while traveling around by either plane, train or automobile. Since I've been at home I can prep, cook, monitor and enjoy my daily meals. I'm in demonstrably better physical and mental shape. I get up, work out, and do not worry so much about the fixed schedules that I lived by previously that may not have been supportive of my individual best work style. I feel healthier in every significant way.
3. Fulfillment. Being in charge of one's own schedule matters. It's inspiring and empowering. I've gotten to take care of family situations in a more timely and present manner. I've gotten to spend a bit more time with my kids and help them with their adult, school and any other issues. While time with friends has obviously decreased, and I miss going to dinners, ballgames and all other sorts of live events, I know these things will come back. For now, I've been able to keep my spirits up and feel so much more fulfilled emotionally.
COVID has come with a terrible price for so many millions of families all over the world. We can only hope that the vaccines and other efforts designed to speed the end of this pandemic will come to pass as soon as possible.
When the world is really able to open back up, I will very much enjoy seeing friends and family, going out to dinner, going into the office to see coworkers, visiting customers in person, and, hopefully, reducing Zoom meetings to a bare minimum. And, not wearing a mask! But, I know that for a good portion of time going forward, I'll be working from home, and, will have learned to like it.