Always On Time When You Work From Home

Whenever I catch myself thinking, “Oh, I have plenty of time”, that’s when I know I’ll be late.

It happened again on Tuesday morning. I was listening to a meeting on my phone while getting dressed, and for a moment, had to triple-check my camera wasn’t working, while I randomly pulled an almost-dry dress off the washing line and threw it on. Add earphones, and I was ready to go. I planned on walking the scenic route – park, maybe seaside – the weather was nice.

Half a block later, I started thinking about masks. Did I need one? Was I going to use public transport? No one here used masks, but maybe I’d need one in the office building? It had been exactly six months since I last went there. Maybe I’d better have one on me just in case.

I turned back, went inside and waited for the elevator. When it arrived, I happened to get a good look of myself in the brightly lit mirror for the first time that day. I saw that my dress had a hole in it – right in the middle. Dammit!

My pace quickened and soon I was back in our apartment, square one, grabbing a mask and, while I was at it, deciding to hastily stitch my dress, too. I looked at the time: there it was – I was now officially in a hurry. I could still make it but it was getting tight.

Not a great seamstress, I still managed to somewhat conceal the ugly hole in my dress and raced out, taking the stairs down. Altering between speed-walking and jogging, I took the shortest route – the seaside park was so far off my mind I didn’t even feel bad for missing the detour.

I could feel sweat on my forehead and my shoe had a pebble. Dodging construction work, at some point I realised I wouldn’t make it there on foot anymore, I had to take the tram. It was just two stops and yet I had to pay for a full ticket. I was about to meet my boss’s new boss for the very first time, face to face, and I didn’t want to show up late, red from running.

The mobile app for tram tickets was taking a long time to download and before I had time to purchase the ticket, the tram was already at the one stop between my boarding and deboarding.

This stop was where I had once been ambushed by ticket collectors during a very similar moment of a rushed decision to hop on the tram and innocently wait for the ticket app to function. By some miracle, they had completely ignored me that time, like I had succeeded in making myself invisible by holding my breath, and I had been spared the steep fee for riding ticketless despite my good intentions. I hadn’t used trams much since the drivers stopped selling tickets.

This time, my ticket downloaded just moments before I hopped off the tram, and, disappointingly, no one checked it. The office building loomed in front of me and I remembered that half a year ago two entrances out of four were closed for renovation. I wondered if that still was the case – had they been working all this time or staying at home?

As I remembered that I didn’t remember which entry I should use, I felt stressed like I hadn’t felt for half a year – working from home in your yoga pants involved far fewer time management issues.

To make things worse, management’s top floor was the venue of our meeting and it had the peculiar disadvantage of only being reachable by some of the building’s elevators, and I never remembered which ones. It felt like a maze, one that I had no time to contemplate. I took the nearest door. To play it safe, I decided to take the elevator to the 8th floor and use stairs for the rest of the way.

At one minute to nine, I opened the door to the conference room where a tiny woman awaited me, and the rest of my team. The room was filled with nervous energy – the kind you don’t notice during muted Teams meetings. I had made it. Now I just acted like I knew what I was doing.

After the meeting, when the sweat had barely cooled off, I had another appointment: I had to take my laptop to IT, because the video wasn’t working on Teams. My computer had already had the inconvenient issue of its sounds not working without using headphones, but now that the video was broken too, it was all getting to be a bit too much.

I worked from home with a computer that had no sound or video, and yet my boss didn’t think I needed a new computer. So I asked for a second opinion.

I ended up staying at IT for a good hour listening to jokes about my broken webcam and how the only way it would work was that I needed to complete the tedious process of uninstalling and reinstalling Teams on a daily basis. In the end, that was the only solution they came up with, no joke.

That, or a new computer, which would require me to come back to the office another day for a set appointment. Oh boy.

68 responses to “Always On Time When You Work From Home

  1. I’m glad you thought of the mask. Otherwise, you would not have noticed the hole in the dress. It all worked out well.
    Stitching a dress up when you’re in a hurry? Who does that? Kudos to you for getting it done.

    Just last night I had a dream about being on a bus and not having a ticket. It’s traumatic.

    Why do people insist on meeting in person? What did your meeting accomplish that a virtual would not?

    I am totally for working from home. You described the anxiety so perfectly. A couple of days I “had to” go into the office. Of course, it turned out to be something I could have done remotely, but… people are people… Anyway, by the time I got to the office (traffic and stupid drivers), I was already upset. Then, encountering some people whom I don’t love only fueled that. I was glad to be home a couple of hours later. Please don’t tell me to leave again…

    Reinstalling Teams every day. Ugghhhh. I am NOT telling you to drop the laptop so that you have to get a new one…

    Stay golden.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’ve been pondering the exact same question: why do people insist on meeting in person? I think part of the answer is that this is a world ruled by extroverts and for them, working from home is unbearable – so many people at work complain about it. (And, yes, I’m generalising to make a point. Not all extroverts are the same, etc, you get what I mean.) And the whole process of punching in, sitting in a cubicle identical to 100 others in a windowless room with white paint for 8+hours, and then punching out, only to be rescued by annual leave, childbirth or retirement, has “always” been the norm. Deviating from it seems wild 😀 like we’re playing hooky. Quite honestly, my job can be done from home 100% and most of the human interaction I used to get at the office was definitely not pleasant.
      Stay golden, Goldie!

      Liked by 2 people

      • You are absolutely right – the US is a country of and for extroverts. Are the Scandinavian countries mostly extrovert?

        Yes, I have been accused of playing “hooky” for sure. But just because you can’t walk by and see that I’m at my desk does not mean that I’m not working. There are people who need constant pushes to work but I am not one of them. Such actions make me recoil and I want to work less. If you don’t trust me, and I gave you no reason for you to fear, we have a problem.

        Same here! Ditto!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. LOL I found myself reading quicker and quicker to keep up with you. It must have been a shock to have to appear in person after months of working at home. But you made it! Hope you get a new computer.
    Alison

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Your opening line is spot on. I know that’s how it is and yet I still keep falling into that trap. I know it’s because I lose my focus on the task in hand – getting somewhere on time – and then I get distracted until I see that I’m running late. If I maintain my focus, I get there early and wish I hadn’t, a no-win situation really.
    I trust your return to the office wasn’t too traumatic. If I were you, I’d hang on to that no sound, no picture computer. SOunds perfect for meetings.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I hate being early, too. If I’m too early, I hang out somewhere to kill time because I can’t stand sitting somewhere waiting.
      Luckily my return to the office is niw over and we are still working from home, until the pandemic ends. After that, who knows, fingers crossed it’ll still be an option…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I recently read it’s been suggested that, since more people are likely to continue working from home in the future, the loss of revenue from this, that, and the other could be offset by a tax on those people. This suggestion, as you might suspect, came from a major international bank, entities that routinely pay enormous sums to their employees to come up with new criminal ways for them to pad their profits! Still, it might be worth paying a tax to not have to commute, pay for an office wardrobe, and sit through interminable meetings.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. What a day! I bet that if you’d been commuting to & from work every day (like normal), none of this would’ve been a big deal. The comfort of working from home lulls us into a different rhythm and going back can either be a shock or a joy. Maybe both 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yeah, you’re right! I was just thinking of how my commute used to take 3h a day when I worked at the airport!!! Seems an incredible amount of time (wasted) now. Nowadays I have a different job and the office is closer to home, but still the mere fact of leaving home on time looking presentable and not forgetting anything essential has already become a struggle! 😆

      Like

  5. Did it feel a little bit exciting to be back in a real office building?! Sometimes I feel like I might need a little bit of that old kind of stress … not too often, but just enough to remind me of my old life!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hahah! It didn’t feel exciting, just a bit tiresome. But then I just came back from a long maternity leave a year before the pandemic. Maybe for those colleague of mine who have spent decades in the same office, the feeling is different. I keep hearing of people with longer and longer careers in this company: one woman who is retiring started working here in 1974! Before I was born!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a drama. How did we manage doing this stressful experience every day. It makes me glad I am retired, just reading this.
    You would think you were asking for an arm or leg not a new computer. I know the feeling. They want the work done efficiently but won’t give up the equipment to do it

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hey, Neil. We are waiting for the 2nd wave, never went into complete lockdown and masks are only a polite recommendation. Apparently, Finland has a relatively low infection and death rate compared to other European countries, maybe because families are small and such a large portion of the population can easily work from home. Here’s an article that was interesting (after the graphs) https://innovationorigins.com/corona-in-europe-why-do-finland-and-spain-differ-like-day-and-night/ Oddly enough, our Scandinavian neighbor Sweden has done much worse: they attempted herd immunity but it didn’t go so well (yet). I’ve been reading about things in the US and it seems much worse – but then you are a large nation, that must affect spreading, I’d imagine. We only have 5million people, even our capital is quite small. For once, I’m grateful to be over here… Take care!!

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Glad you were able to make it! Going into the office seems so foreign to me now. There’s really no point. Working from home has been a blessing. I hope to continue after the pandemic is over. I get so much more done.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Gosh, do not miss having to time manage! I always dislike having to be on video on calls- do you have to have it on? The world doesn’t need double chin angles, bad lighting and home backgrounds. Hope you had a relaxing time at home after that day!

    Liked by 2 people

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