Many of you might not know this, so I’m going to let you in on a secret: working remotely has been a long-term goal of mine since I started a full-time job. It’s one of the reasons why I didn’t pursue a petroleum engineering career. It’s also why I was determined to find internships that would allow me to build skills to work a fully remote job one day.
As soon as I returned from my 10-day Japan trip in March, my company mandated all its employees to follow the Austin stay-home order. When I first heard the news, I was excited. There were things that I would miss like sitting next to my sweet deskmate, personal meetings, and lunches in the kitchen, but the advantages outweighed the negatives for me.
The obvious benefit was not wearing “outside clothes” or a made-up face if I didn’t want to. Another was that I wouldn’t have a 40-mile roundtrip commute. I would save money on gas, toll, and car maintenance. The drive was taxing on my body, and I knew not sitting in the car for multiple hours a week would give me time to do things I was more passionate about.
The less obvious upside was that I was basically required to live a lifestyle that I’ve always wanted to try. I had never worked from home for an extended period of time, and it was something I’ve always wanted to do—even if it was amidst a pandemic.
So far, I’ve loved every minute of it.
Now more than ever, I am so grateful. I’ve lost count of how many weeks I’ve worked from home, but I feel super fortunate to have a job that allows me to earn a living from the comfort of my home. It’s been a change—no doubt—but there are a few things I’ve especially loved besides the obvious:
The freedom of lunches at home
I loved lunches in the office, mostly because I enjoy my coworkers. But let me say: lunch at home has been one of the sweetest things about working remotely.
Lunch in the office typically looked like heating up food in the office kitchen, bumping into a coworker, and strategically timing my conversations & food consumption so they ended at the same time.
By eating at home, I don’t share the cooking appliances with anyone. I can chat with whomever I want and I don’t feel peer-pressured or guilted into eating slower or faster that day. I can also take a midday walk, since my apartment is in a residential area. I just love having that freedom. Here are some typical lunches that I’ll eat at home:
Checking in on friends & family when I want during the day
Now more than ever, I’ve taken advantage of using my work breaks to call, message, or write to loved ones. I suppose I could have done this during a normal workday in the office, but working from home has somehow allowed me more time to enjoy checking in on them. It’s been a refreshing way to stay in touch and take productive work breaks.
More involved cooking projects
Many of you know I’m an avid home cook. I’ve made 85%+ of my meals at home the past few years as a plan to budget with intention. Even through my citywide stay-home order, I’ve loved it.
One thing I was pleasantly surprised about working from home is that I now have the freedom to tackle cooking projects that require more babysitting. For example: pizza dough that needs time to ferment or a really good soup that benefits from time on the stove. As I’m finishing up this blog, I actually have a pot of homemade stock on heat.
Before quarantine, I wouldn’t even touch those ideas unless it was the weekend. Working from home has let me have more freedom in what I consume on weekdays, a luxury to me.
Completing small chores throughout the workday
I like to take a healthy amount of breaks. Every 20-25 minutes, I need to get up and do something else for a few minutes. Otherwise, I risk burning out fast.
When I was in the office, I would usually use this time to chat with a coworker or take a walking lap around the office. Lately, I’ve been using it to put away dishes in the dishwasher, throw a load of laundry in, or wipe the counters.
Breaking up my workday with small tasks that I would normally leave for the weekend allows me to a) feel really good about my space and b) have more time on the weekend to get outside and do more than clean my space.
Burning through my candle collection
I’ve been a candle hoarder for as long as I can remember. I have shelves of them. I’m not sure if your place of employment allows candles and truthfully, I don’t even know if mine does. I’ve never burned them and I’ve never felt compelled to ask if I could to not risk burning down the office.
Since quarantine started, I made it a point to burn a candle while I worked to start scratching the surface of my collection. They’ve been a nice addition to my work desk. I’ve happily gone through six, most of them from The Burlap Bag, a local small business in Austin that I love so much.
In many ways, this quarantine has been a blessing. I knew I didn’t want to jump straight into working remotely as soon as I finished school. I wanted to experience working in a hustling, bustling office.
Now that I’ve experienced both, I see the benefits of the two. I’ve always wanted the freedom to work from wherever I wanted. Maybe one day, I’ll jump on the fully remote work life train. For now, I’m soaking up the experience.