I’m not writing this blog to focus on the “dark days” I experienced, but instead to share what I learned about myself, and if this happens to help a reader, that’s good enough for me.
Where it all began
When we were all sent home from work with our laptops in hand, following news of the Coronavirus outbreak, I admit I underestimated the severity of the situation. The younger, more naive me, thought we would only be away from the office for two weeks, but the pandemic changed the way the world views its workspace, forever – in my defence, like most other people, I had never experienced a global event like this before!
At the time it all “kicked off”, I was working as a Recruitment Officer for a financial services company and I’d always had the notion that working from home would be brilliant… and at first, it was.
Fast forward six months and I found myself feeling really low and unmotivated, with an overarching sense of hopelessness. This took me completely by surprise, and at the time, I just didn’t know why I was feeling this way.
A bit of self-care
After listening to a lot of self-care podcasts, I decided to take some of their advice and try to get into more of a routine. I woke up early each day to fit in a workout in my garage (I knew I would never do it after work), I cooked myself a nutritious breakfast which hit all the right macronutrients, and I made sure I went out into the fresh air at lunch. Staying consistent with my routine really did lift my mood. I liked the discipline it involved and the sense of achievement that followed. However, I still didn’t feel like I was back to my old self.
My employer adapted very well to remote working. Our team met daily over video and I spoke with colleagues regularly via Microsoft Teams chat and phone. We really did make the best of the communication platforms – I couldn’t fault it. It’s just, working from home, I was never alone, but I always felt lonely.
It wasn’t until lockdown rules lifted and I was able to meet with my team in person (some new colleagues I’d only ever spoken to through a computer), that I realised this is what I had been missing.
The penny dropped
The in-person day at the office with my colleagues was the most fulfilling working day I had experienced since before the pandemic. Getting into my car and driving to a workplace, having conversations without the dreaded buffer or mute issue, feeling the buzz of a room of people collaborating, and generally just the company of my colleagues who all work towards the same goal as me every day, brought me so much joy – a feeling I had unknowingly taken for granted until now. It felt like the culture of our team was brought to life.
Every single person’s experience of remote working and flexible working is completely unique and personal to them.
For me personally, it’s very clear what I need to thrive mentally in my working life:
I’m not perfect and some days I drop the ball, but I’m only human! What’s important is getting back on track and not dwelling on the past. Like I say, this experience is personal to me and I know for a fact others will feel differently about their working environment, as everyone has different circumstances. You do you!
But, if anyone reading this has had a similar experience to me, then I hope this blog offers some comfort.