It was the morning of March 12, 2020 and I was doing my one hour commute into the quiet little city of Guelph, Ontario, as I had been for the past month or so. I had just secured an Underwriter position in January at the insurance company I work at and was the position I was most interested in since about my third or fourth year of university. Up to this point, 2020 was a pretty smooth year, other than Kobe Bryant’s death (which dampened my mood as a sports fan) and what at the time seemed like a small, insignificant virus that had been brewing on the other side of the world. Little did I know, it would be my last morning commute until further notice, as it has been 8 months since then and there doesn’t seem to be a plan to return to the office.
I must admit, as someone who didn’t think they’d ever get used to working from home, I have adapted and strived, however, this personal success isn’t something I share with all my co-workers, as I know some of them are struggling. We have had tremendous support from the company as they’ve assisted many of us with paying for extra monitors, ergonomic chairs, and anything else that would be considered “work-from-home” equipment. I’m also proud to say I work for a company that offers assistance and funding for mental health support, which is critical for those who really need it. They’ve also had a very clear plan as to how they would like us to operate from home, which helps simplify our day-to-day responsibilities and allow us to focus on the work. The leaders of the company are kind, understanding, and are willing to discuss and consider options if an employee is struggling. I am truly in a fortunate situation.
For me, this work from home life has been a pretty sweet deal. I don’t sit in the car two hours every day, so I’ve used this extra time to study for my CIP (passed that!), work out, go for bike rides, hang out with friends once in a while (not much of that this year), watch movies, TV shows, sports, and so much more! It has been quite astonishing how much my quality of life has improved from just simply driving less every day. For those that are not enjoying this new normal, I believe it’s important to try and be positive as much as you can and understand that not everything can be controlled. This pandemic is much bigger than each of us, but the most you can do for yourself is try to look at the bright side and tell yourself that if you can get through this, you can get through most other challenges. I think this will be a very important time in many people’s lives and hopefully in the long term it will professionally boost many people. Stepping up in the workplace during tough times like these can definitely boost your profile with your leaders and taking on extra roles and challenges can help you stick out while others might not be able to.
With all that being said, I do miss seeing co-workers face-to-face, the office banter, walking around the building and outside on my lunch breaks, and just being able to do things and go places without protocol. It is important, however, to follow protocol so we can beat this pandemic as soon as possible. I am happy that my family and I are all healthy, employed, and looking forward to the future. Will, we still all be in the same mood come a year from now? Who knows. The important thing is to keep our expectations manageable and be ready for anything that comes.