The New Normal of Working from Home: A Before and Now Snapshot

Although we are and have been since I started, a relatively small company, RedTree has always had an office space. Over time, the use of the office became more and more flexible. Our full-time developer is completely remote, and so the idea of working from home when needed or wanted was very familiar to us. However, I am the type that enjoys having somewhere to go. Going to the office sets the standard for the rest of my work day. Starting with my commute in, the routine begins with a destination and then all else follows pretty uniformly from there. I enjoy that structure as it keeps me on track and feeling in control as well as makes deviations from the routine for a lunch out or leaving early feel that much more special.

The idea of the once office-oriented structure of my day is something that no longer exists. The pandemic forced our teams to our homes and because of our industry, we could do so quite easily. In the past I had worked from home often, rounding out to maybe once every 2 weeks, and it suited me fine for those purposes usually amounting to having a doctor’s appointment that day or feeling sick, but I didn’t particularly like it. To reiterate my previous statement, I enjoy having somewhere to go. The pandemic quarantine meant being home every day. It meant redefining my routine in a way that I wasn’t sure I’d handle well.

At first, as predicted, it was hard. It was hard to disconnect from the homeyness of my house every day. It was hard having to work in my small apartment with my fiance, whom was working from home every day as well. It was hard to create a new work routine within my once intentionally separated Alicia-space, but like with anything else, time made it easier. A point of pride for me is my ability to adapt well to different situations and so I adapted to this one.

I thought it was interesting however, how my old work routine and habits evolved with this new concept of no longer having an office. I broke it down into a few of the most impacted situations to see the differences between then and now and how I have adapted.

1. My commute

Before: I was afforded the luxury of being only a 15-20 minutes walk away from my office and I took complete advantage to get a little fresh air every day and a teeny bit of exercise.

Now: I take a 30-minute or so walk at some point in my day to give my mind a break and again, to get some fresh air.

2. The office space

Before: On most days in our old office, we would have up to 5 people sharing the same office. It wasn’t a tight space, but it was a shared space in a very cool building with a shared space concept already ingrained. It provided a lot of activity and closeness or independence with privacy booths and separate work spaces when desired.

Now:  I have a very small apartment with a corner fit with a desk chair and large monitor. While it’s nothing fancy, I am already used to fitting in shared spaces and I have all I need. I would say there is much more quiet and privacy in my apartment as well since the only other presence is my fiance whom is off working in a separate space.

3. Lunch / Breaks

Before: I made my lunch every day and on the rare days I didn’t I could go to the coffee shop down the hall for a snack or order in. It was all very normal and our building had a super cool kitchen to use. Also, our office was almost right on the river, with a trail running along it right outside, so on breaks I could go for a quick wander by the water.

Now: Not much has changed here except for the kitchen being used and how close the river is. I am still capable of making my lunch every day and with a lot less preparation and more variety as well. I can still go for a walk down to the river if I like, or just a walk around the block on my breaks.

4. Client Meetings

Before: Almost every client meeting we would do in person unless the meeting wouldn’t be worth the travel or the client was from out of town. There were many shared conference rooms throughout our building for the meetings, or we would go to the client.

Now: Everything is done with Zoom or Google Meet. Having much familiarity with these types of meetings already since we have a remote co-worker, the online meetings with clients have been a relatively easy transition. They have also allowed the attendees to adopt a more familiar tone with each other possibly because everyone is in the comfort of their homes and in the same boat, giving them an initial sense of ease.

5. Team Collaboration

Before: Most of use were in the same room together most of the day which allowed us to bounce ideas and random thoughts off each other quickly and easily. We also had access to whiteboards and conference rooms for expanded brainstorming and more hands-on meetings. We often did collaborate with Nina, she works out of town, through video if needed.

Now: Much like client meetings, all team communication has transferred to Google Meet chats or Slack conversations. This was one that needed some adjustments as we learned, but we learned to have daily meetings to keep everyone on the same page and I would say we are even more communicative now than we were before. We are also now all in the same situation and that gives us a little bit more to relate to each other over.

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