COVID has forced many of us into a ‘work from home’ situation, and opinions on the new reality seem mixed. Some love the flexible work hours and time saved from commuting and more family time, while others feel isolated, bored and miss the stimulation of their coworkers. For people such as myself who always work from home, the pandemic has been the great equalizer.
Prior to COVID, I was one of a handful of employees from CarGurus that worked remotely. The majority of our company works out of our head office in Cambridge, MA, or our offices in Detroit, London or Dublin. When I took the job at CarGurus, I had already been working from home for a few months and was quite used to the set up. Being a father of two small boys, I appreciated the flexibility of making my own schedule, being able to have lunch with the boys or go for a walk with them after school. My dog seemed indifferent to me being home, but he expressed his silent companionship by sleeping on the bed beside my desk. While younger me might have struggled with not having the energy of a full office, having no distractions meant I was far more productive and efficient. Between meetings with my clients, AdClub events and industry networking, I never felt isolated or alone.
Now while I thrived in my work from home environment, there were things that I missed out on by not working at the CarGurus main offices. Besides daily catered lunches and unlimited snacks and drinks, I missed out on those quick conversations you have with a coworker in the hall or spontaneous brainstorming sessions. Often company news would be slow to filter down to me as if I was an outpost in the Antarctic waiting for the dog sled to deliver my monthly mail. For me though, the good far outweighed the bad and I was very happy with my work situation.
Then COVID happened. Offices were closed, people were forced to work from home, and for most, it was a shock to the system. While my coworkers learned to use Zoom and set up their home offices, I was excited that everyone got to share in my work from home experience. Even my wife was now home all day, and I loved spending the extra time with her. The dog seemed annoyed that now two humans were home all day and constantly interrupted his lengthy sleep schedule.
While the stress of COVID hung over all of us, I was thriving in the new work reality. Now having meetings with my coworkers meant being able to see everyone’s face instead of looking at a boardroom where I couldn’t tell who was in the room and often had trouble hearing people. Presenting to clients via Zoom isn’t ideal, but I had plenty of experience from a previous job and never missed a beat. The biggest change came from not being left out of conversations. Since everyone was at home, we would have more team meetings, pod meetings and even weekly company-wide town halls. Instead of missing out because I was not at head office, I was now being asked to join meetings for my ideas and strategy. COVID had leveled the playing field and I’ve been thriving.
Most of us are mixed on working from home, and it’s definitely not for everyone. Personally, I can’t wait until I can see my clients in person again, attend AdClub events and travel to see my coworkers. Until then, I’ll happily Zoom away, talk to my lethargic dog and enjoy the extra time with my family.