Back to the office for a week

A wide-angle photo taken from George St in Sydney. There's tram tracks running down the street, tall buildings on either side, and a nice big green tree at the left. It's delightfully sunny and the sky is blue.

My workplace has leant heavily into remote-first work since COVID hit and we’ve hired a ton of people outside of the usual places where we have physical offices (Sydney in Australia, Mountain View in the US, etc.), and even for those of us who were regularly in the office pre-COVID, working from home is the norm now. A side-effect of that is that we don’t have nearly as much connection between coworkers especially for people who can’t come into the office even if they wanted to, so as a result we have “Intentional Togetherness” events for teams every six months or a year—I forget the cadence—where we’ll actually fly everyone in the team over from wherever it is they are and hold a whole bunch of in-person workshops and collaboration and just generally hang out.

One of my coworkers does the same job I do but is based over in Austin in Texas and we flew him out as well, plus people from New Zealand, Brisbane, Melbourne, and probably other places I’ve missed. I’d never met the Austin guy in person for obvious reasons, and it was really nice seeing everyone else in person too. He actually arrived on Thursday morning last week and so I went into the office on Thursday and Friday, plus all of this week. There was lots of going out for coffee and figuring out what we’d get for lunch and all the usual things you do when you’re in the office plus just generally chatting. I posted the highlights (which are 95% food-related) here.

My commute is a fifteen minute walk to the train station then an hour on the train (thankfully the office is right next to the station), and pre-COVID when I’d be in the office every single day we’d get up at 7:10am to get the 8:00am train to be in the office a bit past 9am, and wouldn’t get home again until past 7pm. There was no way in hell I was going back to doing that again so instead for this week I’d get up at my usual working-from-home time of 8:15am, start work a bit before 9am, then walk to the station and catch the 9:37am train and work from the train while I was commuting. Bar the post-work events we had, I was also getting the 4:50pm train home and working for the last hour on it to avoid peak hour.

Even with those changes compared to the pre-COVID commute, it’s now Friday evening as I type this, and I am absolutely wiped out. My social battery is not nearly at as high a capacity as it was pre-COVID and looking back at what my commute and hours used to be, I can’t believe I used to do that five days a week. And outside of the social battery aspect, this has felt like the longest seven days I’ve had for a long time (and I had a weekend in between the first two days I was in the office and this week). I know some people hate working from home for all sorts of reasons, but man, personally I would never go back to having to be in an office every day. Going in once in a while to see people or to play things after work, absolutely. But every day? Hard nope.

Conveniently this weekend is a long weekend because Monday is the Labour Day public holiday, so I’ll have an extra day to recharge!

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