I had a meeting to discuss the roadmap for a product today, and I would have just called into the meeting but one of my colleagues had flown in from New York so I thought I should make the effort too.
It was … odd.
There were multiple reasons for this. Here’s a few:
In a ‘normal’ working day, I mostly just see my wife and children, so I was quite disoriented to meet people who were as tall, or taller than me. I know that makes little sense, but it was one more strange thing to get used to.
My screen wasn’t working. I’m used to having a somewhat untidy desk, but with a massive, 34 inch wide screen. I go into the office, couldn’t figure out how to power up the screen on my desk, and had to get out my Bluetooth keyboard to type on. Two years ago, with a smaller screen, a dining room chair and an Ikea table, my working space at home was definitely inferior to the office, but with chair, screen and desk all upgraded, there’s no longer a benefit.
Deja vu? Or misplaced nostalgia? If this was a whole new office that I’d never been to before, maybe that would have been less of an issue, but I was in that strange place where things were just as I remembered them, but also somehow different – empty desks made it feel like a ghost town compared to when it was full before covid.
No toothpaste in the bathroom, so I couldn’t brush my teeth after breakfast and put my retainers back in. That’s just another inconvenience vs working from home, but maybe they add up.
So after a day of working, plus the annoyance of the commute (painless, but time consuming in both directions) I felt like I’d used up much more mental energy than I needed to. It’s a bit like going back to working out after a long period without exercise – some muscle I haven’t used is going to ache tomorrow.
Some benefits to being in the office. The meeting we had I felt much more present at, being in the room, than if I’d been dialled in and able to distract myself. So there is that. I think when we get to normality (whatever that is) then at least a day a week in the office will work – bit that will be a day for meetings. Getting stuff done seems much better at home, for now …