Long Term WFH

I’m not sure I’ve accepted that we’re still in a work from home pandemic that is going to continue for the next six months. It does weigh on me at times, and I’ve struggled to cope with the same four walls the last few weeks, mostly because I don’t think I’ve accepted this fact. Redgate’s offices are closed for the rest of the year, with no real plans to open anything anytime soon. Many people are pleased with the current status, and we’re hiring people on a regular basis.

Is long term work from home the thing that many companies will adopt? Certainly some can’t, and lots of jobs around the world don’t lend themselves to remote work, but for those of us in technology, it’s possible. Lots of our management has realized this, and plenty of people like it. Disappointing for me, and maybe for some of you, but good for lots of others. Certainly I see more and more companies every week extending their WFH practice.

Is this a good thing? There is some research coming out about how the longer term status is affecting people. People are working more, and having difficulties unplugging from work. This is creating some of the burnout issues we saw in the tech boom of the 1990s and early 2000s. There’s an interesting thread at Hacker News about finding some way to disconnect from work, with some creative suggestions. Especially nice to flip through and pick/choose them to try, especially if you are space constrained.

The upside of remote work is that we can live anywhere and work for a company. Basecamp has done this for years. The downside is that your physical proximity to your company is not an advantage. If you aren’t a high performer, perhaps your company will look to find someone in another city or country that can do a better job. Stress about job security and certainly there is pressure (implicit or explicit) that employers might bring on you to do more, stand out, even come back to work sooner than you like. These are all potential issues for employees, and they are the downsides of remote work.

Finding some balance and getting away from work is important. I know vacation and holiday is hard in some locations and situations, but it is important. I know I need to take 4-5 more days of holiday this month to meet the 60% guideline Redgate has set for the end of September. I’m not sure I can go anywhere, but if nothing else, I’ll just try to do something different around the house. If you have holiday, you should find a way to take it. Even spending a couple days reading a book for enjoyment or cooking a meal for your family, or anything non-work related can be a good break.

I’ve worked from home for nearly two decades, and overall I love it, but I also like going to see customers, clients, and my co-workers at Redgate. I do hope that we adopt some of the good remote work habits after this pandemic, but I also hope that we go back to some of the older, “normal” way of working where I get to see people.

Steve Jones

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