19 March 2020

Celebrating the equinox by working from the basement office again. Temperature did not get up to porch level before supper.

There are seams to remote work.

There are seams to be aware of working in the office. Trying to keep your personal noises to a minimum. Difficult since I frequently have discussions with myself and read passages that I need to remember aloud. Microwave etiquette, and making the next pot of coffee.

Today the remote seams began to show. Some of the team spend their evenings socializing online, via game consoles which keep them up past midnight. They look pretty ragged in the morning. One is looking rough from having a baby at home. A few really prefer to be in the office for work. When the CDC said that this could go on for eighteen months the mood got darker.

I spent almost three years in a totally remote role. It was strange at first, but left to myself I found that I could really get in the flow for an hour or more. Rather than grab my laptop and heading for a sofa to work through something hard in the office, I just turn the Google Hangout off for an hour. I miss the afternoon walk with the team, more than I expected. Twenty minutes of personal chatting and bitching really help me bond with them, and it isn’t the same when we are online.

It is more difficult for me since we are currently winding the project down. One member has already found another gig and rolling off at the end of next week. I would really enjoy spending some time with him this week, grabbing a beer after work and generally screwing around in the office. I could be teaching him how to play with other teams in our workspace, which are much more uptight than our team.

There are seams at home too.

I have two sixteen, soon to be seventeen year old sons. Yes twins. Same mom same day, and that is the end of the connection. Except for online gaming. Even there they are completely different. Minecraft and adventure games for one, historical first-person shooter and Star Wars for the other. There desktops are in the shared office space in the basement. I get to be the heavy when they are off of school (they are) and I am working from home.

They have adapted. The boys are using text to speech and their headphones to get around the requirement for a quiet office. They get antsy around 17:00 when they think I should be out of the office. Sacrifices must be made. Mornings are easy, they do not get out of bed until noon. Afternoons are not bad, they tend to watch YouTube for a few hours. I will make them happier tomorrow when I start working on our back porch. It will be warm enough tomorrow for the space heater to make it comfortable.

Today I Learned

Remote work affects people differently. I love it. If all of my clients were able to support it, I would be in much happier space. The boys will graduate next year and I would really love to spend much more of time on the road with my wife. I will be seeking remote tolerant client at that point. I also feel for those that need a space that supports their interaction with our clients. I can see how this presents additional friction for them.

Time spent outside is very important for me. I am at my wits end this time of year, March is wet in Ohio. I do not mind the rain. I went for a walk after supper tonight. The euroSchirm is freaking awesome for backpacking and great for going out for a walk in the rain. It costs more than the big box golf umbrella, but I have to carry it and trust it when I am on my own. Next month I will be able to spend my evenings and weekends getting the garden ready. I can do it in March if I wear muck boots.

Postscript

Mental health is important for everyone. Life is different now, and it may not get back to "normal" anytime soon. Remote therapy is fine, my therapist cannot see me in his office until the risk has abated. I already have a relationship with him so phone calls are fine. There are HIPAA compliant video chat solutions that are currently experiencing scaling issues, but I am confident that these issues will be worked out soon.

If you are experiencing anxiety and/or depression during the Covid-19 pandemic you can reach out to professional counselors. Just "dealing" with it, or drinking enough to sleep will likely fail you. Look for a local licensed therapist. Check to see if they have remote session available, and be understanding if they are not providing remote services. This stuff is hard for them too. I recommend finding someone in your area, a good part of this is empathy.