#5: Why do I have an Office?
Last night, as I was preparing for bed and reviewing my schedule, I realized there was no reason to go into the office today. Not that I didn't have work to do - I have plenty of that - but that there was no reason for me to physically BE IN THE OFFICE. No reason to put on dress clothes, drive 20 minutes, park, put on my mask, take my temperature, put my lunch in the fridge, get water from the cooler, etc. when I could just walk down my stairs, fire up my computer and get to work.
Pre-Covid, I worked from home one day a week. It was my "Focus Day" when I worked on longer, more intense, more serious projects, like auditing the financials or writing marketing content. Stuff that required I not be interrupted 53 times a day, which is what happened in the Before Times. People would drift in and out of my office all day, to chat, or catch up on my weekend, or talk about a project. It was rare for me to have even an hour when someone didn't "need" something from me, so my Focus Days were necessary to keep momentum on deeper work.
Now, it's exactly the opposite. Because of social distancing requirements and the fact that my office is tiny, no one stops in, and if they do, we are both masked, which makes chatting in a small, stuffy space less comfortable. (I'M NOT COMPLAINING ABOUT MASKS - WEAR YOUR MASK!) Days when I'm in the office are my loneliest days now. I sit in my little room, staring at the walls, wondering if I'll ever speak to a human again. All my direct reports and half my management team are still working from home, so I'm still on Zoom multiple times a day, and honestly, being in the office just makes me feel like a zoo animal, trapped behind a partition and on display. I kind of hate it.
At home, at least, I sit next to the open door to my patio, in a sunny room with my dog at my feet and I don't have to put on a mask to walk to the bathroom. (Again, wear your mask.) I have never been a big believer in "face time" at the office, so I don't feel like I have to commute in to a place where I'm less happy just to prove I'm working.
Being more comfortable and less lonely at home doesn't mean I work from home all the time - I'm in the office two days a week now, on average - but it does mean that I'm more intentional about why I'm going to the office and what I'm doing while I'm there. Days like today, when I have a long series of phone calls and Zoom meetings, it doesn't make any sense to commute. Other days, when we have staff meetings or I need to work with my business partner or VP of Ops on something, it makes sense to get in the car and show up - certain conversations are easier face-to-face. But I credit Covid for forcing me to think more clearly about how I'm using my time, and what the purpose is of a physical office in this new normal.