After 16 months of isolation, I start back to the office tomorrow. Three days on site and two working from home, at least until December as we experiment with this hybrid remote/onsite model.
I’m actually not looking all that much forward to it.
For background: I’m an extreme introvert. Like most introverts I find extended human interaction exhausting. There are individual people I enjoy being around (My bestie Lindsay being a notable example) but for the most part I get my energy from solitude. On top of being introverted I’m also a Highly Sensitive Person. All of which means I am one of those people who has really thrived in a fully remote work environment and who admittedly has not missed being in an office all day.
Don’t get me wrong, I like my co-workers. My teammates are also largely introverted (it’s an IT applications team) and we tend to be easy on each other. We’ve all more or less thrived in the remote environment. We have a good boss and a lively team chat that let’s us all have both work and social conversations, and there’s very little if any friction among us. My teammates aren’t why I’m somewhat dreading the return to work life.
It’s this: How do you go back to the way it was before when you know what we know now about far too many of our fellow humans?
We know too many people haven’t a clue how to wash their damn hands (dear God, I am never shaking hands again).
We know many people don’t understand the most basic high-school level science about disease transmission or how viruses and vaccines work.
We know there are a lot of people out there who just do not care who they hurt as long as they aren’t inconvenienced in any way.
We know that the same people who aren’t yet vaccinated are perfectly comfortable simply lying about their vaccination status.
We know that there’s a significant chunk of our fellow Americans who were happy to elect someone to the highest office in the land not because they genuinely felt he was the best for the job, but because he is willing to hurt people they don’t like.
We know that the people who fall into these categories are aggressively, belligerently proud of it.
Working remotely has been peaceful. The modern office with it’s open design is an interruption factory and an environment where I get things done despite it, not because of it. I have been so much more productive and so much less stressed out working remote. I’ve been able to come off my blood pressure meds and stop taking so much ibuprofen because I’m more relaxed and in much less pain. It is quiet, I have a cat in my lap or by my side much of the day, the downstairs cafeteria has all the foods I like, and I have control over the environment.
I’ll miss that far more than I ever missed people, especially now that we all know how awful far too many people are.