Published at 2022-08-15
As we all start to try to transition into post-pandemic life, it’s easy to begin seeing things as “getting back to normal.” And while many of us feel more comfortable going without masks in public spaces, hosting get-togethers and parties, and travelling again, in many ways, things aren’t back to normal. One of the biggest facets of life that has undergone some serious change is the way many of us work.
While some companies are making universal calls to bring all employees back to the office, many more companies seem to be offering remote or hybrid solutions for their staff to help them adjust to a post-pandemic work world. A hybrid model (generally) features employees going into the office two or perhaps three times per week and working remotely the other days, and well, we all know how remote work functions by now!
In the early days of the pandemic (back in March 2020), TEC was one of the many companies that had to quickly transition to a remote work model. Beth continued to manage things from the office, but the rest of the TEC team, including myself, began working from home, and that shift brought with it some major changes—changes I didn’t expect.
The first few days of working from home felt…strange. Which makes sense, because at that point I’d been getting up early, taking the train downtown, then the subway to the TEC office, working, then doing the commute in reverse—for six steady years. Disrupting any routine means having to get used to new ways of doing things, and while there were some speed bumps, I soon realized that the changes brought by working from home were, in some ways, quite beneficial.
One of the most immediate changes my husband (who was also working from home) and I noticed was the amount of money we were now saving by not commuting downtown (four days a week for me, five days for him). When you add money to your Presto card bit by bit, it’s easy to not notice the cost, but now that we were both home, our combined savings was roughly $700.00 a month! We were house hunting at the time, and that extra money that wasn’t being diverted to GO and the TTC meant we could save even more for our down payment—very much necessary in the crazy pandemic real estate sphere.
Plus, I no longer had to go through the stress every morning of battling it out with other commuters for a seat on the morning train. If you’ve ever taken a weekday express train heading west on the Lakeshore East Line, you know what I mean. Or worse, not getting a seat and having to stand, squished in with the absolute maximum number of people that could physically fit into a train car.
Working from home even helped us in buying a house—we felt comfortable moving a little further east than we originally anticipated, since worrying about commute costs (and time) was no longer a concern.
Another thing we started saving was time, and those effects were also felt immediately. Our morning commute usually took, from my front door to the TEC office, one hour. My commute home from door to door took, on average, one and a half to two hours, depending on whether or not I made the earlier train (plus the lack of express trains at that time of day).
Suddenly I didn’t have to wake up at 6:30 AM to get to the office for 8:30, and when I finished my shift, all I had to do was shut my laptop. That meant I could sleep in a bit later and be more rested, which immensely helped my quality of life right off the bat.
It also meant that, once my workday was done, I could spend more time with the people who mattered to me: my husband, my family, and my friends. I had more time and energy for activities, since I wasn’t stuck on a train or getting up before I felt rested. I also had more time to take on freelance projects, helping me bump my career goals up a peg or two.
Of course, there are downsides to working from home. I miss seeing Beth and my TEC officemates, and spending our lunches catching up with whatever was happening in each other’s lives. If I need to get an answer to a question quickly, I can of course give Beth a call, but it’s just not the same as wandering over to her desk and talking it out face-to-face. It does get a little lonely every once in a while.
Oddly enough, another strange side effect is that I stopped reading as much as I used to. Hours spent commuting to and from work meant I could burn through a couple of books a week, at least. For a long time I didn’t do much reading at all. Now, I’m just starting to get back into it with some exciting summer reads, and I hope that trend continues.
As the pandemic began to recede, Beth offered me the choice to continue working remotely, which I chose to keep doing rather than moving into a hybrid model. She recognized that I had been and would continue to be a productive member of the TEC team. Plus, we have built our own way of holding meetings by phone and email exchanges.
I very much appreciate the flexibility that working from home has added to my life, and the extra time that I can devote to both fun things (seeing friends and family, planning fun activities with my husband) and…more practical things (battling it out with the weeds in the garden, vacuuming the pool, cleaning the kitchen…the list goes on). I feel more well-rested, more fulfilled, and more relaxed—all of which mean that when I do sit down to work, I’m more ready than ever to tackle the editing jobs that come our way!
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