First days in a new office are always nerve-racking. Generally, I wake up before my alarm- paranoid that I’ll oversleep, arrive late, and make a horrible first impression. I spend extra time picking my outfit and doing my hair, hoping to look extremely professional. Then, I leave the house ridiculously early, just on the off chance that traffic is impossibly bad that day. Once I’m there it’s a flurry of excitement, paperwork, new people, and new information.
When I began my job at Colorado Access in June 2022, it was nothing like that. This was my first time starting a new position in a remote setting. That meant there was no commute anxiety, no outfit agony, and no get-to-know-you conversations around office cubicles or in the breakrooms. This was my first introduction to the new world of office work.
When the pandemic shut down offices far and wide in the spring of 2020, I was one of the first in my workplace to be transitioned to temporary remote work. At the time I was working for a news station and had never dreamed I would ever work at home, due to the nature of the job. How could we put live TV newscasts together at home? There would be no control booths, no way to quickly communicate about breaking news, and no way to access the in-house video footage. There was talk about how this temporary solution would change everything, forever. How, now that we were all set up to work from our homes, could we ever go back to working in the office 100% of the time? But once the spring of 2021 rolled around, we were brought back to our desks in the station and the option to work remotely was no more. I was happy to see the coworkers I had known for nearly five years; I had missed them over the past year. But I began to long for the lost time I now spent waking up early to get ready and then sit in the car on I-25. Sure, before the pandemic, I took that extra time spent commuting and getting ready as a given. I never thought there was any other way. But now, I daydreamed about those hours and how they were used in 2020. That time used to be for walking my dog, throwing in a load of laundry, or even getting a little extra sleep.
So, when I learned that my position at Colorado Access would be almost exclusively remote, my first inclination was to be excited! Those hours of my life in the morning and afternoon that had been spent commuting, were now mine again! But then a flood of questions entered my mind. Will I be able to collaborate with my coworkers the same way if I don’t see them every day and never spend any measurable time with them in person? Will I get stir-crazy? Will I be able to concentrate as easily at home?
My first day of work arrived and, admittedly, it was not your traditional first day. It began with a phone call from IT. I sat on my office room floor with my work laptop because I had yet to set up my new home office workspace. Then my afternoon was spent on Microsoft Teams virtual meetings and sitting alone in my home exploring various aspects of my laptop, before heading to a new hire virtual training.
At first, it was a little weird. I felt a little disconnected. But I was surprised to find that in just a few weeks’ time, I felt like I was starting to really form work relationships, find my groove, and feel like part of the team. I realized that, in some ways, I was able to concentrate harder at home, because I tend to be the type of person who chit chats in the office if someone is working right beside me all day. I regained that lost commute time and felt more on top of things at home. I embraced the new work-at-home world, and I loved it. Sure, my interactions with my new coworkers were a little different, but they felt just as genuine and meaningful. And reaching someone with a question was not a difficult task.
My new work setting is a whole different ballgame. My family exists around me and my dog jumps onto my lap for meetings. But I’m enjoying this new way of life and finding that it isn’t as different from the traditional way of doing things, as I thought. I can still chat with my coworkers and make jokes, I can still be a part of productive meetings, I can still collaborate with others when needed, and I can still feel like a part of something bigger than myself. So, as the summer draws to a close and I write in the fresh air of my back porch, I can only reflect that the adjustment wasn’t that difficult, and the fears I had have now all disappeared. And I am thankful for this new way of working.