2024.02.11 Qualitatively Hating Working In The Office
So, having spent a week (well, 4 days) working in the office again, I now have more direct data regarding what it's like. Which sounds silly after having spent a couple decades having worked in an office setting, but the recent handful of years of mostly working from home has massively transformed my perspective.
Firstly, credit where credit is due, when at the office it is much easier to keep the parade of attention mostly work-related.
But, and this is a critical "but", it feels like it leads to a considerably bigger problem. Because all my in-between filler moments are more filled with work minutae, that means that my brain gets much less capability to recharge in those pauses. It turns out that spending all those so-called "micro moments" bumping into colleagues, that burns neural resources for an introvert such as myself.
The two main results of this are that 1) I'm considerably more exhausted at the end of a work day - not even counting commuting, and 2) I have fewer good/big ideas.
The exhaustion part is probably easy to understand. After an intense meeting, or tough bit of design, at home I can quietly do some dishes or some such, letting my subconscious work on stuff. At work, I have to either bumble through the campus making up social niceties or fend off trawling coworkers looking for verbal answers.
The good/big idea part is actually a discovery that I had during the past week. See, I would find myself waking up in the middle of the night most nights last week, with an idea about how to solve a problem or something to try at work. And the previous couple decades came back to me in a flash: that's how work used to haunt me. But that stopped when I was working from home. But instead of being haunted by work such that it wakes me up, I'd have a couple big "aha!" moments during the day, most days.
Basically, for me, work from home allows me to generate twice as many good/big ideas as being in the office, and in ways that don't fuck with my sleep and stress.
Which is an excellent segue into the motivation I have right this moment: I'm absolutely dreading going back in for another week of this shit. It's hilarious to say, because my job is super fun, my workplace is extremely nice and accommodating full of cool people, and even my commute is a laugh of a bike ride. Yet here I am, very much dreading it.
I assume that I'll re-acclimate, and the stress will ease back down as I get re-numbed to the overt dominion of the extroverted and the soul-draining non-stop effort of having to pretend to be social. I'll do cool work that will make it all worthwhile, and loosen up my clenched soul on the privileged experience I had.
If this were a reddit post, I'm sure there would be swarms of commenters urging me to take this newfound knowledge and find the bravery to seek another position that would allow the exact thing I like about the pandemic era WFH. Which is when I gesture vaguely to my giant golden handcuffs, the kids about to need cars and then university, and the lovely house I couldn't afford to buy again in this market even if I kept this well-paying job. And I'm chicken.