This morning I made the choice to work from home, a choice I struggled with.
For several years I worked under leadership that was unambiguously suspicious of remote work. At one job, it was only permitted during severe weather (the kind that shuts down schools). At another, our director was so unsettled by the org’s move towards flexible work arrangements that they brought in a professional mediator for the roll-out.
Now I work for a cheery little company that accepts remote work without stigma, and for a supportive manager/CTO who doesn’t think twice about it.
I still feel a little guilt when I work from home, though. I feel like I have to “earn” the right to stay here, paid with some misfortune: illness, utility work, a car that suddenly won’t start.
And to string a couple of WFH days together? What: take Tuesday and Wednesday? Push me even further into the Discomfort Zone!
It’s not that I’m “taking” these days at all—I’m very effective and highly available, and occasionally work more hours than I would otherwise. But something just doesn’t feel right.
It doesn’t help that when I work from home in Nashville, I go downstairs to our community’s common area overlooking a glistening pool. “How is tapping on a $3000 computer in these surroundings work?!” my brain hisses, the same born/e of a Bobcat-operating, ditch-digging landscaper mother and a welder father whose heavy, ocher-caked denim uniforms wore out washing machines well before their time.
This morning I took a deep breath and posted in the channel: “WFH today”.
Simple, without apology: just my plan. When my boss messaged me, I reflexively jumped to explain myself, but all he wanted to do was say good morning and share his priorities. You know, totally normal stuff for a CTO to bring up with his Director of Engineering, nothing to do with location. I took another deep breath, we talked, and my morning spun on, from leading standup at 9am to a brief finances talk, a feedback meeting with my CEO, and several hours spent writing a proposal for a new engineering support process.
It was absolutely fine, of course, and it turned out to be great for this month’s cozy theme. Remote work today made it easier for me to relax at lunchtime–and to take a real lunch. I read and made a big cup of tea with the good stuff my friend just brought back from Málaga. I marvel at the fact that I forgot to make my usual strong cafe au lait, but somehow, I didn’t get a headache. Hmmmm!
This evening, I had my comfort food classic: grits with jalapenos. Eating this is like getting a hug from food. I washed my sheets and am getting ready for bed early so I can make it to a 7am breakfast with some fellow engineering managers. Enough sleep? What a treat! Cozy November–you’re off to a great start.