What I Learned Working From Home for One Year

On Friday, March 13th, 2020, I packed up my laptop and a few personal items from the agency and left the office with my co-workers for a seemingly unknown amount of time.

COVID was doing horrible things to our U.S. friends down south. Still, it hadn’t yet made its way to Canada much. However, following Sunday, our government announced a country-wide state of emergency. So it was a wise call of my brother (also the CEO) to call a vote that day for if we should all start working from home until “things settle down”.

The first 12 months in a bullet points (in order)

  • I documented what I learned in the first 90-days of working from home in a blog here
  • My wife and I started bulk cooking meals and bulk buying groceries more than we ever have
  • Video calls or “Zoom fatigue” didn’t wear me out as much as other people. Probably because I’m used to being in videos and live streams.
  • My coffee intake is now only a few big cups a week, and I switched to mostly drinking earl grey, chai, and plain black tea for my daily caffeine
  • Reaction (the agency I work for) officially closed its office in downtown Red Deer in December 2020 and fully embraced a digital remote-work business model
  • I build a new custom desk with a floating hutch. The office will get repainted soon. ?
  • Christmas and New Years were peaceful and memorable..We made the most out of a pandemic holiday
  • Still regularly stretching and doing many fitness ey things, I purchased a set of dumbbells and a rowing machine so I can have better workouts at home
  • I started configuring my new computer build in September 2020, and now 8 months later in April 2021, I’m still waiting for 5900x and 3060 Ti inventory.

If it takes work to maintain a work/life balance, you’re doing something wrong

Not everyone is going to love working in the same place they live. I think it’s a common misconception about this lifestyle. But I learned that it’s ultimately up to you to define your own work mentality. For me, it’s not uncommon to still have our company Slack open on the evenings and weekends, not to mention work-related notifications have been going to my phone for several years. I also enjoy thinking about clever new business ideas or video edits to polish off a final export while I’m in the shower, and that’s perfectly okay.

I am confident in the line, or at least my hybrid area where my work ends and personal life resumes, and I know that I can move it any time. The truth for some is that working from home might be an absolute terrible scenario for them and their family. To repeat to the headline, “If it takes work to maintain a work/life balance, you’re doing something wrong.”

Don’t waste the time you saved from not having to commute

I was thankful to have a short 25-minutes round trip drive to the office, maybe add 10-15 minutes in the winter. With a bit of routine building and habit stacking, I was able to optimize the fuck out of my mornings to leave time for:

  • Catching up on news
  • Making my wife and me a healthy breakfast
  • Working out or stretching
  • Of course, showering and getting ready
  • Work on building my personal brand
  • Make coffee, tidy up, and say goodbye to Rachel
  • Plan out my tasks for the day
  • Poor a coffee and join our team scrum meeting at 9:15 am

The gift of time is not something to be wasted. I don’t think anyone would ever look back on their life and wished they had spent more time procrastinating on doing things they knew were important.

Everyone is a live streamer now

Whether you work for an online business or not, being on camera in a live setting is becoming more expected. Hopping on a quick video call to give a potential custom a first look at a new vehicle or fridge is no longer a secret sales tactic. Clothing stores like Lululemon have personal shopping experiences for their customers.

On the web, I’ll be on 4-hour+ working sessions with the team over Google Meet. Sharing screens, making mistakes in real-time, but it’s excellent, and it’s how we deliver work that our clients love.

On the client-side, they love screen share calls where you can show them in person how to do something. As an alternative, sending a quick explainer video through a service like Loom attached to an email will make your way more memorable, and everyone knows that’s just good business.

I might be the first to ever say this: I wonder how long it will take for grocery stores to have virtual meal planners that can help you coordinate all the food and recipes you need for the week? ?

People have been working from home long before COVID

Real estate agents, contractors, freelancers, coaches/instructors, psychiatrists, consultants in every industry, regional company reps, content creators, freelancers all have a full or part-time element of their work at home. Whether that’s for an employer or working for themselves.

In my opinion, I think working from home became a hot topic when businesses were required by health authorities to literally size up their offices, which arose honest questions around overall workplace hygiene as well as confined workspaces. Maybe it no longer makes sense to have small collaboration areas or a lines of desks along a walls with people working side by side?