June 7, 2022 by Rich Kurtzman, Brand Communications @ Fathym
The “Great Resignation” can be seen through both positive and negative lenses, depending on who you are. And there were also multiple causes for people quitting, leaving or being fired from their jobs over the last two years.
Simply, the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to fire and lay off many employees in spring and summer of 2020, which shook things up. But in 2021, it was the workers who rode a wave of rising wages and increased opportunities and salaries, quitting their jobs in droves, changing occupations and industries.
In my case, the “Great Resignation” was a lucky break, and a breakthrough in the world of writing I’d been working towards for a dozen years.
During the pandemic, I was working a day job at a local label business. The hours were good, the people were wonderful and it was fulfilling to know your actions impacted the small company on a daily basis.
But, the downsides were many. Not only was it a loud, hot and somewhat dangerous environment, we were forced to work in a confined space (for part of the pandemic). There were worries about getting sick, or worse, bringing the sickness home to loved ones.
That’s when my luck changed, though, at the beginning of 2022.
Working from home
Nearing three years of working the label manufacturing job – while also writing about sports on the side to make ends meet – I was offered a full-time writing job for Fathym.
For me, it was a dream come true. Not only was I writing full-time – something I was grinding towards since 2010 – but I earned a substantial raise in the transition. And maybe most importantly, I’m able to now work from home.
The lack of a commute is amazing especially considering I drive a truck and gas prices have skyrocketed as of late. But getting back those 30 minutes per day is even more valuable than the fuel savings.
Now, I’ve worked from home for many years, but as a part-time role. So, being full-time at home has been a definite adjustment and I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. Here’s what I’ve learned in nearly six months of working from home.
Work-life balance happens, if you let it
Look, we’re all searching for more work-life balance. Some probably wonder if it’s even a thing.
Heck, I wonder if it’s a thing sometimes, with three total jobs and a growing family.
But one thing that’s great about working from home is finding that balance a little easier. I usually work 8-4, but it can vary from day to day. That, in itself, is somewhat freeing. The ability to start basically whenever I want to is really nice.
And at the end of the day, I clock out using our accounting/HR software and close the laptop, and the work day is over. Well, mostly.
The great thing about Microsoft Teams (more on the app later) is you can stay connected to company communications from your work laptop or phone. The bad thing is...just that. I’ll often check in on Teams after I’m done for the day – or even on the weekend (!) -- only to see a lengthy conversation taking place.
If I do that, I’m immediately racking my brain and searching for answers, to give some sort of input. But, I should be off the clock.
Lesson learned: The lesson here is, if you’re working from home, you need to turn off when you turn your work computer off. There’s always tomorrow to work on that project (as long as it’s not time-sensitive). Oh, and taking a few minutes to throw a load of laundry in will not only reduce your stress, but likely your partner’s too.
Working from home is isolating. It just is.
If we didn’t have our darn-cute dog, I don’t know what I would have done besides talk even more to myself.
I will say, I appreciate the daily “standup” meetings we have. Everyone in the company (for the most part) checks in with what they worked on the day prior as well as what they have coming up for that current day. The meeting fosters communication between teams and team members.
However, Microsoft Teams meetings are...meh. When I started in January, I thought I’d turn my camera on so people could see me. Well, no one else turned theirs on and I was made aware that we don’t really turn our cameras on at the company during meetings. Honestly, I like that now.
However, it does make it more difficult to connect, especially at a new company with people you’ve never met in person, when you can’t see their face or nonverbal communication.
Even outside of that, I miss the simple connections of talking around the coffee machine or in the break room. “What’d you do last weekend?” or “Man, that client is a pain in the butt!” etc. Luckily, we’ve had a few casual meetings, but they’re never really the same online as in person.
Lesson learned: Make the most out of your online meetings. I like to crack jokes, create memes or slip in a quip about the local sports teams to keep it light. That way I can still connect with my team members in some sort of way.
Freedom spawns creativity
The biggest positive has been the freedom of working at home and how that’s spawned my creativity.
Really, I don’t have to work from home, but just anywhere with wifi. That really opens up the possibilities, although I haven’t worked from coffee shops too often.
Where I do like to move to, though, is from my basement office upstairs to the deck outside. Sometimes a little fresh air, sunlight and singing birds are all I need to get the creative juices flowing. Similarly, if I’m struggling to find a way to explain a complicated tech idea, I’ll take a walk with our dog on my lunch break to give my eyes a rest from the screentime and to get the endorphins flowing.
That freedom continues since this was a new role when I was hired, and I’m continuing to develop and define it along the way. That freedom even led to me writing this piece here, as well as helping define company values and the ability to make memes and actually have fun at work.
Lesson learned: If you can work from home, try to make it as comfortable as possible. I have a standing desk in its own office space, but I also use the flexibility to promote creativity.
Overall, working from home (or remotely) has been wonderful. I’m grateful for the chance to do so with Fathym, even if it’s not always perfect, as explained above.
Outside of writing on a new topic – the tech world, and specifically web development world – I've been able to learn how to use Visual Studio Code and to blog in markdown, too. That’s given me a small glimpse into the world of developing and a behind-the-scenes look at how websites are made.