It’s four weeks as of today that I last took the GO Train to work, and Thursday marks four weeks since I was last in my office at work. I knew even then that the date they had given for this 100% work from home arrangement–April 3–was more than likely an underestimation. I wouldn’t have even gone in that Thursday had I not needed to pick up a couple of pieces of equipment from the office, but it did give me a chance to grab one last serving of Union Chicken and one last bag of pastries from Danish Pastry House.
The job I have puts me into indirect contact with business continuity/disaster recovery folks regularly (I once was even project manager for a RFP for extending our offsite DR site arrangements). We were being told as early as late January to start taking home our laptops, which I dutifully did even though it was a pain to schlep around. But it meant we were ready when the call came. Now, as I understand it, there are only a handful of our 1500 employees at our physical offices.
It hasn’t been completely smooth sailing. I was assigned to a new project just before we went into business continuity mode. The nature of the business we do means that there is a lot of activity around daily pricing and accounting activities, which must take place within certain windows, and what that’s meant is that those of us not involved in these activities have only been allowed on the network during non-peak hours. I have my laptop set up to synch some files each time I connect, and I also have my work-issued phone with my work email, so at least I had some access, but it certainly makes for odd workdays. Teleconferences have continued (as they’re not on the network). The worst day was a week ago Monday, when the network was unstable most of the day, just a couple of days before the month ended. Now, we’re past the month end, and I can now use VPN after 11 am. And somehow, we’re managing to keep things going. I know our operations staff are stretched thin, but I’m hoping that gets better as well, as IT works to strengthen the network. And I am betting that it helps our employees immensely that they can either stay home, or go into a nearly-empty office.
I have to wonder, after all of this is over, just how much my workplace will return to our physical premises. My department already had desk sharing and a 50% work from home arrangement for most of us, and we were just about to start a formal “hot desking” pilot where we would no longer have assigned desks. I suspect that when we do return, this may be rolled out even wider even more quickly. Given how ahead of the curve our company was in responding to the crisis, I am betting that we will take the “return to normal” slowly and carefully.
In the meantime, I try to get up to speed with a new project, and am rather shocked (and happy) to see that another project which had been caught up in due diligence reviews and delays is suddenly moving more quickly. But I look back at that week a month ago when everything changed with a bit of wistfulness. Initially, my thought was of the things I might be able to get out and do now that I was no longer tied to the long commute part of the time–but, of course, the reality as to what “stay at home” really meant became clear very quickly.
And I know now that the fact that I am still working to some extent means that I spend many of my metaphorical spoons on my job. I have about 20 masks to donate on my sewing room floor that I am gradually chipping away at finishing, but even though I had hoped to finish a number of them last night, I didn’t get very far; instead, I made masks for my husband and me, transcribed a tune for the viola, and didn’t do a whole lot more. Today feels a little better, although I have Swiss Chalat take-out to pick up and my weekly Eoforwic meeting to attend remotely. My creativity continues to be channeled mostly into writing and learning music, rather than anything that produces a tangible product. Making the masks feels like work, too. There’s sadly nothing really fun or creative about them.
At least the routine is becoming a little more routine–as much as I wish it were otherwise.