Regarding my new position. I need to be replaced. That means someone needs to be hired to work as an Administrative Assistant—the position I had for four and a half years.
This is me now! I’m on the phone–a lot. And I’m having a blast!
During this time, rarely was I out of the office. I called out sick when my husband had his very mild heart attack. I also called out ill when I had my two cataract surgeries and a couple of times when I just felt too ill due to a fever, food poisoning or an incredibly bad cold.
Ahhh. The eye surgery that changed my life–and my sight for the better. I took two days off. One for each eye!
I was also out of the office during my vacation and holidays.
Oh St. Tropez—we haven’t been since lockdown–and we’ll be back at the end of next month!
During the infamous lockdown, I volunteered to go into the office every day. Every. Single. Day.
Well…I really volunteered because I didn’t want to work from home!
The reason I volunteered to do so is for multiple reasons. First off, the office would be empty save for three or four people who were nowhere near each other. Secondly, because the company I work for handles documents, most of which are extremely confidential, someone needed to be in the office to handle documents that were to be mailed out and documentation and paperwork that came in.
And during lockdown, I was NEVER closelikethis to anyone! Heck–there weren’t even that many people in the office!
The best part was driving to and from the office with no traffic. To be honest, there are days when I wish we would go back to lockdown—simply due to traffic.
Honestly, I felt like an alien being on the road with nobody else–and it was GREAT!!!!
So, you might know where this is going.
My ex-boss (but she’s still my boss for two hours a day because I volunteered to work from 7:00 AM until 9:00 AM for her) has been having a daunting time finding not one replacement, but an additional replacement for another employee who left.
It’s been beyond daunting. The position has been offered as “in house/office”. And therein lies the issue.
Nobody, and I mean nobody wants to return to the office to work. I find this fascinating—and not in a good way. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that people would rather stay home 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There’s actually a fear factor in writing this blog post because I got flamed in a Linked-In debate. People working at home were ridiculously defensive—to the point it made me wonder how many of them were goofing off and concentrating more on housework than work work.
Could this be why folks prefer to work from home?
Trust me, I love my home. It’s my castle. My nesting place. The place that makes me happy. But the main thing is, my private, home life is so sacred to me that I want nothing do to with my job the second I enter through the front door into my hallowed foyer.
And until I arrive home, THIS king of the house loves to rearrange the sofa pillows…
And when my home is decorated for the Holidays, it’s even more of a happy place!
I know my person. If I was working from home, I would procrastinate. There would be a reason to get off my fat ass and take Chippy for a walk—which I never do—that is my husband’s arena.
Okay Chippy. Instead of working, I shall take you walking!
I would be headed to the fridge to mindlessly snack during the working hours. I am already 18 pounds overweight and it is difficult to lose even one pound—if I worked from home, I would be dangerously overweight.
Yup! I would be baking more bread and chowing down on it..
Not to mention taking endless breaks to also bake croissants! And eat them!
I like and enjoy the entire process of waking up, being presented with my morning coffee as I sit in my little makeup room getting face and hair ready for the day.
My little corner of the upstairs guest room where the magic happens…
All made up and ready to go!
The ritual of the day’s ensemble is also an enjoyable one.
Sometimes I’ll wear pants and long hair..
Sometimes I wear a dress and medium hair. But most times I go barelegged!
Sometimes I drive to work myself. Other times The Frenchman drives me in order to be economical.
I love my cubicle. It is my home away from home. Granted the office has but a handful of employees on any given day, but I find my little space enables me to be extremely productive. Even during stressful work days. Work keeps me organized and Lord knows that I’m so disorganized in my personal life. So much so that I’m now using planners to keep me on the straight and narrow.
My cubicle is full of family photos and tons of sticky notes! It’s my personal work space and I love it!
Look. I realize that we all have our personal preferences. My daughter and her husband love working from home. Having a child who’s one and another on the way (Yes. Oona is pregnant again. Owen will be a big brother come September), they are into a routine of driving Owen to daycare and then back home. There commute is to daycare and back—not an office.
Yes. Owen is going to be a big brother! They work fast!
And I get that.
But for an office position that requires one to be in the office five days at first, then a day from home later on, I don’t get it.
Do people not need money? Do people not have mortgages and car payments and utility bills and other expenses?
Seriously. Are most people independently wealthy that they don’t need to work?
Would people really rather have no job than a job that requires driving to an office?
What about nurses and doctors and police officers and firemen and teachers and people in retail and restaurants who have gone back to their establishments?
Think of those who have no choice. They are helping others.
I’m incredibly flummoxed that older people who can’t afford to retire but have had no luck getting hired due to age discrimination. I have to say, one of the saving graces of the company I work for is not an ageist one. And I’m almost shocked about this one. I head people my age voicing their opinions on age discrimination but here we have two positions and very few applicants.
I guess older people might not care to return to an office environment.
It’s weird. And I wonder if people will ever be returning to an office.
I’m beginning to think that people who need people aren’t people who need people anymore. I think the pandemic has made us anti-social.
What are your thoughts? I’m really interested to read them because this is one topic I just cannot wrap my head around. And, as always, we can all be respectful on this subject!
I’m curious to read your comments below! I’m eagerly anticipating…
Interesting observation, Catherine! I am retired now, but still keep in touch with my old workplace and have noticed a definite change in attitudes concerning the office as pandemic regulations are lifted. Now, quite a few have kids and I can see the benefits of not having to commute and spend ages in a car or in the subway instead of at home with your kids. Some have obviously decided to work from home 3 days and stay in the office two, a nice middle ground I guess. I have also noticed more companies are leaving the option to work from home in the job descriptions, so my guess is there will be a shift from the office to working from home. Some employers over here actually embrace it because they can downsize in office space (the con being you do not have a personal cubicle, just a locker), people work more because 1. they are not sick as much (viruses spread in the office) and 2. they want to make up for lost time during the day (filling a dishwasher, talking to a kid etc) so they work after hours. Just like you I preferred the office, and felt less like a work-slave when I could separate worklife and private. I haven’t heard people do not apply for office-jobs though, actually a lot of people lost their jobs during the pandemic and changed career paths, so some areas that were badly hit and had to lay people off are now struggling to find new employees, as experienced workers are hard to find…
I am absolutely in agreement with you!!! We are social animals and as such we must be around other people: wash our faces, wear something nice, go outside, and interact with human beings. I think there must be a fear that developed during the covid crisis in some people and it’s this hidden fear that makes them want to work from home. But to keep on staying home is like raising a drawbridge against the world.
I can see both sides – I will start by saying I worked in an office an hour and 20 minutes commute each way from where I used to live, the bus ride was “interesting” as public transport in that part of Scotland was poorly funded – no heating in winter and Scotland gets COLD. I hated the commute.The office – mainly I loved it – great colleagues and fantastic work-wifey, all wonderful except an absolute louse of a line manager. This line manager was/is vile, awful, hideous and horrible, a truly nasty and vindictive and pathetic bullying excuse of a man – he ruined the office for many of us – it became a real struggle to face each day knowing he was there lurking, waiting – as he did nothing else except make peoples lives utter hell. Lockdown was actually a blessing – so many people were no longer picked on or had their working days filled with his toxic presence, I moved from Scotland down to Carlisle in Cumbria – its an hour and 20 minutes (same as the village lI ived in 17 miles from Glasgow) but 90 miles away… I am now a home worker and I love it. Any nonsense from the idiot-boss and I go out into my tiny garden and take deep breaths and admire my herbs until I can cope with more of his continuous stupidity – trust me for my mental health this has been wonderful. I dont say that blithely – he actually drove me to a break down when I was off for 7 weeks, here I am safe. On the other hand my work wifey has always been able to walk to our Glasgow office – you will never persuade her to work as a home worker she loves the office despite the new desk booking system and the locker booking system and the rest of the faff. Part of me would LOVE to be in the office but we no longer sit as a team I loved the rituals of looking smart and being fully present despite the line manager, but living in Carlisle is better for my husbands job in London and the daughter in Leeds. I could/should make more of an effort to look as smart as I did in the office and you have inspired me to do just that, but going near the office used to make me feel physically sick. A good office environment is not something I would ever take for granted if I ever was likely to work in an office again – working in a positive and social environment was a brilliant experience whilst I had it.
Congratulations re the next little chick, hope Oona is keeping well xxx
I didn’t know I needed to work until I needed to work! I was retired for 18 years and 8 of those have been post-widowhood. I am one of those intro/extrovert personality which for me translates into enjoying alone time and people time. Out of a financial need I returned to part-time work 5 months ago and so enjoy being away from the house and enjoying the focus of being busy and liking what I do. I totally get what you are saying! By the way you look luminous.
Hi. Here in Florida, there are many jobs begging for people to fill them. Like you, I do not understand why.
I’m retired, but my adult children have been working from home, though my daughter is now on a hybrid schedule; my son’s department has moved to work-from-home model permanently, with occasional in-person meetings. I understand the reasons people are not rushing back to the office – the pandemic isn’t over, so why risk if you don’t have to; it’s not a requirement for all jobs to interact throughout the day (every interruption causes seven minutes of lost time is a statistic I recall from my management days): many office have adopted the “hoteling” model, so no real connection to your own workspace, whether a cubicle or office; the cost of commuting; the time wasted commuting; etc. I do know that when I retired, I didn’t miss the work, but I did miss the collegiality of being with co-workers. But that’s not anything a company cares about, they want worker output.
Those are my two-cents.
I’m retired now, and have been for 5 years, but miss the ritual of getting dressed, makeup and outfits, and having structure to the day, and the social aspect. And definitely I needed a separation of job and home life. I heard young people complaining that they were actually working more hours during the pandemic when they worked from home, as they were always available and instantly reachable. I don’t get the whole unemployment thing either – so many places are looking for staff – did that many people decide they don’t want to work anymore at all or part-time?
Sounds like everyone is an office worker…we have a hospital centric family..nobody gets or had a chance to work from home. Can’t bring the patients home…there were a few outpatient clinicians that got sent home during Covid because their patients could not come in to attend clinics. Nobody liked that and they couldn’t wait to get back to their offices. Talking to patients all day on the phone is not the same as IRL and when you are in the office you can blow off some steam with a colleague…patients create a lot of steam some days:) lol! Even when I was working I found it challenging to have ‘difficult conversations’ with family members over the phone. I preferred seeing them face to face with the patient present even if she was 98 and had advanced dementia.
With gas prices going up I think a lot of people will choose to continue working from home even for a few days a week. As far as saving on daycare most young parents find it impossible to be productive with a child at home so continue to pay for daycare. a) glad I no longer have littles and b)very glad I retired. I earned my time after 36.5 years. Hospitals are not like an office cubical, though I had my own office I spent 80% of my time on the floors and during Covid it was no picnic.
Salute to those who still have to or choose to work after 65. Though in healthcare age is no barrier, they are calling retirees back because of staff shortages. I heard there is a MacDonalds offering 17.50/hour to start!! Another fast food place is giving a 200.00 signing bonus! It’s insane. Nobody wants to work ‘outside the home’
Hi Catherine I love your blog but all the flashing images are driving me potty! Too much for me. Good luck in your new role.
I don’t work, haven’t for years except for running kids around of course. I like being at home but I also have a routine outside of the house, just not a work one. I would wither without it though. I think the pandemic has made lots of people realise that they can work from home. I don’t know how they can do without the socialising but I do get that they save money on a commute, not to mention dead time. my friend was driving almost 2 hours a day to get to and from work, time she can now use productively.
At this point, I have applied for 42 jobs that I am qualified to do, and some of them have been reposted. I can only think they are looking for someone younger. But apparently they can’t find someone who wants to be in an office setting to take the jobs. And apparently even though I’d do it, I’m too old. So, who knows what will happen?
Bridget, don’t get me started on that one–it’s a Pandora’s box. These effing companies pontificate equal employment and they are full of shit. They are equal for everyone except the older people. It’s disgusting. A former co-worker of mine, 28 years old and her parents still do everything for her, left for a really great job. She couldn’t even hold a phone conversation at our office and couldn’t multi-task. It’s ridiculous. I can’t even anymore……..
I’ve been retired now for 12 years, but have kept in touch with some of the younger coworkers. Sounds as if this working remotely situation is a trend that is going to continue for a long time for a lot of careers. Obviously many jobs aren’t suited to that, but things like customer support seem to be. Heck whenever I call technical support – like with Xfinity or Verizon, I sometimes ask where the employee is located and more often than not they are definitely not in an office. A few times, I’ve heard chickens squawking in the background even. LOL. It sort of cracks me up, but seems to work for all involved. I’m a solid introvert and so I’d probably have been just as happy working remotely because it would have eliminated some of the office drama that sometimes cropped up. But I probably would have needed a dedicated office space in my home, and mindful of trips to the kitchen! Anyway, it’s an interesting side effect of the pandemic, isn’t it? I really don’t see society returning to what it once was – both from the employee’s perspective and also the employers. Some businesses don’t need to rent office space now, or if they do it’s pared down.
Hi Vava. I also wonder about real estate. So many of these office buildings are now white elephants. What’s to become of them? XOXOXO
CATHERINE–A M E N!!!!!! I am in complete agreement with you. I also worked everyday during the pandemic. What is up with everyone? Like you, my home is my sacred place. In a like vein, my office is my wonderful workplace. I for one am so grateful to still have an office to go into. Congratulations on your promotion and Grandbaby #2!
thanks Paula. I’me so glad that you agree with me. It’s really a mixed bag with more people preferring to work at home. I still stand by my conviction that my personal life and living space is sacred to me-LOL! XOXOXO
Interesting question. I’ve worked from home since 2003 but did have an office I could go into on occasion. It wasn’t mine, just the “commuter’s office,” like the hotel model someone spoke about. I can’t work in an office again. I completely agree with everything you said about home as a sacred space, a ritual to the day, getting freakin’ dressed (wearing sweatpants right now). But it’s always been a 50 50 split pro con with the commute and office drama and my job is such that I sat in a cubicle with little interaction anyway. So may as well be by the dog. I’m so used to this by how, smearing work and home together, that though I’m far from okay with it. I don’t really want to sit in a cubicle and do this same job.
Hi Jean. It is SUCH a 50/50 thing. I’m secretly thrilled that there’s hardly anyone at the office b/c I detest office drama. My cubicle is my little world. I actually love it there. I have a window and am surrounded with family photos. But at the end of the day. It’s such a personal choice! XXOXOXOXO
Congratulations on your promotion. I’ve been following u for at least 5 years. You are a woman with strength and humor.
Thank you so much Julia! XOXOXO
I think it depends on how much you truly like your job – I worked part-time in an office setting for ten years before becoming self-employed, and for the first eight years I really liked the office job until I got a dreadful boss, which soured it quite a bit. So when the opportunity to work at home, for myself, presented itself, I embraced it. Doing what I love makes all the difference – I have accepted some office work on the side as a consultant since becoming self-employed and enjoyed it because I could disagree with my client/boss safely; I had other eggs in my basket and wasn’t fully dependent on any single one. For me, being able to work at my own convenience, without any commute, was essential. I was able to be home when my daughter was small and to adapt my schedule to fit hers and didn’t waste her childhood driving back and forth to a paycheck. I like being able to multi-task, taking a brief break to start dinner mid-afternoon and going straight back to my home office to finish what I was working on. But as long as I really like what i am doing, and the people I interact with, I could see myself doing a part-time office gig again. However, spending all daylight hours indoors has no appeal for me, and I have felt that since I was 18 and spent a summer getting pale and wan from lack of sun – never again!
Marsha. I definitely agree about the summer. My thoughts on that? I would work 16 hour days four days a week during summer months to have a three-day weekend_LOL! XOXOXO
I work in health care and as a technologist, must be in the facility. But, many of the schedulers, billing and authorization people worked from home. Productivity is tracked by your computer, so everyone knows if you are not working. Most people were far more productive. There was less stress, it was quieter. the company did not pay for their electricity, Wifi or coffee or tea. A win, win for all around. For those who chose to come in, it was quieter too! try hearing your phone conversation with 20+ other people in the same room all talking at the same time. Crazy stressful. I think there is room for both office and home, and both can be productive. Working your 8 hrs at home means there is not commute time, lunch is less expensive and quicker, usually. breaks are totally more relaxing. Overall work expenses are far less, meaning more of your paycheck for your other expenses. A boon for young families especially. Socializing is your choice. You now have that 30min to an hour drive or ride time, not used for commuting to see your friends. You know, those people you never have time for. As well as your Mom and Dad, siblings and more importantly, your kids. We are so frightened by change, it’s not all bad, not all good. But in many cases, working from home is a great choice for the employee, and the employer.
Hi Marie. You bring up excellent points. In my own situation, I have observed that with some employees they became lazy as far as work goes and aren’t as productive but that isnt’ for all. My daughter and her husband love working from home as does my husband. I just don’t want to bring my work life into my sacred home life is all. XOXOXOXO
Catherine, I love your blog. Your irreverent take on so may things, but your warmth and serious concern for others, like what is happening in Ukraine. I love two other blogs but seldom post. Just know that you bring a bright spot in my day (and at 4:30 am when I can not sleep) and I am sure it is the same for other readers. Thank you!, Marze
Thank you so much Mary! You made my day and pushed me to never give up on the blog! XOXOXO
My husband has worked from home for the last 6? years. He feels more productive here than at an office, he is self employed though, so has different projects at different times. Zoom meetings are not always ideal, but they can work and save so much travel time ( he works internationally)
Plus we have an adult handicapped daughter that lives at home and we can control our schedules to fit her care. It works nicely for us.
Hi Dolores, It’s such a personal choice. My husband, also in his self-employed position enjoys working from home. He’s so used to it now and he really likes his Zoom meetings. I definitely see how it works nicely for you. I hope that your daughter is getting all the help from our government health-care wise that she deserves! XOXOXO
I don’t have the option of working from home, but if I did, I’d probably choose two days at home, three days on-site. Working from home every day, I’d miss being around other people since hubby goes in M-F. Having two days at home would let me get house-type stuff done during lunch and I’d get my people-fix the other three days!