It’s not hyperbole to say that the future of work is in flux. When restrictions brought on by the pandemic began to lift in the spring, we had get-togethers! In-office meetings! Happy hours! This summer had felt like something close to normal.
And then came the delta variant.
As a result, many companies have revised their return-to-work policies. Our policy has not changed; since the spring, we’ve told our employees to work where it makes the most sense for them.
I live less than a mile from the office, so going in two or three days a week is perfect for me—I like to take walks, and I appreciate a change of scenery after working at my dining room table. And I enjoy seeing the few folks who also come in from time to time. But this is obviously not the case for everyone.
Below are some examples of how others on the team are managing their home and work lives, at least for now.
Mimi (senior editor): My attendance at the office can be best described as random. I go to the office for important meetings, but I also use the office as an eight-hour waystation on days that I’ve made plans with friends who don’t live in my neighborhood.
Crucially, working from home on most days has allowed me to eat what I want, when I want. The combination of deep-dish pizza from a restaurant I will never patronize again (10 a.m.), grapes and cheeses (noon), cookies (late afternoon), and a normal-person dinner (normal dinner time) has been intensely satisfying. It feels like I’m in tune with my body the way a Cro-Magnon would have been, except I’m digging around my pantry instead of in the dirt.
Margaret (editor): I’ve spent most of my career as a freelancer, so working from home has been my default mode for a long time. And it’s great—I love having the flexibility to eat lunch with my kids or go for a walk during the day, and of course, it saves a lot of commuting time. That said, I miss the energy of an office environment and the synergies of in-person interactions (not to mention the social connections!). For me, one or two in-office days a week feels like a good balance, and I’m grateful for the flexibility that makes that possible.
Brittany (editorial director): Once I started intentionally mapping out my day to how I like to work, as opposed to how I was used to working, I realized I’m too twitchy to enjoy sitting down for one big block. Working from home, I take shorter, more frequent breaks rather than a lunch intermission to break up my day. On calls that I don’t need to look at the computer screen, I walk around and stretch, or pick up my toddler’s toys, or just sit on my porch for a change of scenery. Cutting out two hours of commuting every day also means I can spend more time with my two-year-old.
I like to go into the office every once in a while for a day stacked with in-person meetings and amazing coworker interaction, but I find editing easier when I don’t have my hilarious coworkers around to distract me. (Lookin’ at you, Annie.) I’m really happy to be able to choose where I can be most productive, and I feel fortunate to work for a company that treats me like an adult who will make the best decisions for myself, my work, and my family.
Caroline (manager, creative operations): I see the remote-work structure as the ultimate signal of trust within an organization. The structure necessitates strong team chemistry, masterful communication, and—chiefly—trust. When done well, the results can be maximum efficiency, and let’s face it: it’s unparalleled for increasing flexibility in most people’s hectic schedules and promoting better workplace mental health. Plus, I feel remote work helps to shake off a lot of corporate stereotypes and allow space for employees to do their best work, free from the rigid framework of many office cultures. For me, it works big time! And the structure makes me a more effective, agile manager. Also, I feel like I have increased daily gratitude for my colleagues.
Daniel (associate managing editor): Run a load of laundry: check. Grab a delivered package before a thief does: check. Be available for the full two-hour window that Comcast requires: check (grudgingly).
The benefits of hybrid work abound. But the most important, for me, is the ability to knock out errands during the day, which frees up leisure time at night and PTO for its ideal use: a worry-free vacation.
Luke (senior vice president, content strategy): Having joined Leff just three months ago, one of the attractions was the opportunity to actually come into the office regularly. I’ve missed that sense of in-person colleague connection being at global firms with dispersed, diffuse teams. So my intent is to try to stack meetings in the office on given days to make the most of that opportunity while being respectful of the needs and desires of others.
Annie (senior editor): Since getting vaccinated, I’ve been going into the office once or twice a week. I love going into the office. It’s energizing being around my colleagues, and I love the time to myself during my commute (you know you’re a mom when …). But if I had to get my kid to daycare right when it opens at 8, haul myself downtown, and race back up to get her by 4:30 or 5 almost every day, I would be stressed. Never mind that I wouldn’t have as much time to get my sh*t done throughout the day and would absolutely have to put in more hours after my daughter’s bedtime than I do now. The flexibility is definitely contributing to my overall sense of well-being.
Boris (controller): I typically will work Mondays and Fridays from home, while coming in one or two days in the middle of the week. I never had any opportunities to work from home in my prior roles (before the pandemic), so there was a level of conditioning about physically going to work that I don’t think I’ll ever truly be able to shake. I absolutely find myself more productive when working at an office because it creates a clear delineation between work and home environments and puts me in a different headspace. Being around other human beings is also something that improves my mental state after being isolated with just my cat for days at a time.
Tiana (marketing associate): I’ve discovered I’m (surprisingly) much more productive at home. However, because my workspace now occupies the same area as my “living” space, it does become hard to separate the two mentally. I’ve been to the office only a handful of times in the past few months, but I plan to start coming in once a week or so to break up the week. It is nice to get an extra hour of the day back when it would normally go to a commute. But I think that just as breakfast is a healthy start to your day, having a good morning routine (that isn’t rolling over and starting work) is also extremely important. I also come into the office when I accidentally take the women’s bathroom key home.