I'm Young, Black, and Working From Home, with Everything to Gain by Not Returning to the Office
Updated: Jun 1
On a global scale, provisions allowing work from home have been enacted as economies have ground to a halt due to COVID-19. Even companies that were hesitant to provide liberal telework options have been forced to acquiesce to precautionary public health measures that mean some non-essential workers get to do their jobs from home. I am one of those workers. And I hope to never be confined to an office again.
I have worked 83 day days from the comfort of my couch—I mean—home. I have a dedicated work space which includes a proper desk as mandated by the employee handbook. Despite general notions about what it means to work from one's home, I have been working harder than ever. The value that this situation has provided is in the times that I've saved by not having to commute, and the other things that have allowed me to do to improve my overall well-being. And the numbers do not lie.
Three months of working from home total 664 working hours—and more if you count those times I’ve grabbed my laptop to wrap up a project late at night. In the time since the office closed due to COVID-19, I have reclaimed an additional 166 hours of my life that would have been spent commuting from my home in Maryland to my office in Virginia. I have been able to make 12 trips to the grocery store without having to squeeze it into the commute on the way home from work, although I did have to fight for toilet paper that one time! That’s also $332 saved on train fare, an additional $240 saved from eating food made in my very own kitchen. On top of that, I have amassed enough fitness equipment in my living room to call it an actual home gym, equating to savings of about $165 from freezing my gym membership. I have saved another $60 bucks on laundry because my work attire now consists of gym shorts and t-shirts—underwear if I am feeling fancy. Working from home has enabled me to take back 830 hours of my life, and save over $800! Working from home works for me.
It has inspired me to create a home where I can live and work. These three months have put me in a clearer frame of mind—I’ve experienced better sleep, heightened creativity, healthier eating habits, and greater time to reflect on my goals, better maintain interpersonal relationships, and created space for me to work on a better version of myself through teletherapy. This time has been pivotal for my mental health.
I’ve had time to collect my thoughts each morning over hot muesli and alkaline water. I've been able to savor a nutrient-rich green smoothie as I soak up the quiet morning sun on my balcony. My flourishing container garden will soon yield banana peppers, green onions, radishes and cherry tomatoes, and a slew of herbs and aromatics. This green oasis is an metaphor for the benefits I have reaped by telecommuting; vibrant and growing just like feel inside. And although I am not working out on a daily basis like I was before, I'm increasingly accepting of my 34 year old body—after all, I have more time to look at it in the mirror before virtual meetings kick into high gear each day.
These benefits have presented to me a renewed level of engagement with my workload. I have been incredibly productive (my managers can attest to it), which bucks against the “butts in seats” rhetoric that some organizational leaders have used as a crutch for being slow to catch on to telecommuting trends in the workforce marketplace. Some think that if they can’t see workers working, then they might not be working. I have seen that to be untrue. Despite being home, all of my teammates are performing at the top of their game. They are more responsive than ever before. They’ve reached a productivity level that is unparalleled. It is evident that we can be trusted.
Working from home has helped me to love myself more and devote more attention to my well-being in ways that I did not have the time to when I was facing long commutes and getting home after dark, just to rinse and repeat the next day. Working from home is good for my physical, mental, emotional, and financial health. It is more than a just human resources agenda item or policy issue. It is a quality of life issue; and I'd like to continue working from home permanently.