May 14—For some, working from home is great.
For me, there are advantages. Mainly, I don't have the hour commute each way each day, and I can go to work in my pajamas.
But the disadvantages outweigh the advantages many times over.
I was reminded of that the past two-plus weeks as I've been quarantined at home because of COVID.
My daughter was diagnosed late last month. She's 12 and therefore wasn't yet eligible for the vaccine. My son and husband were quarantined from that day on. My son hadn't been vaccinated (he was actually scheduled to get his first shot the day after my daughter tested positive), and my husband's final vaccine was less than two weeks prior. I was considered fully vaccinated (I had gotten my second shot 15 days before my daughter's positive test). So as long as I didn't have symptoms, I didn't have to quarantine. But after my husband tested positive two days after my daughter did, I decided it was best for everyone that I quarantine, just in case.
Well, that "just in case" was needed. I tested positive despite being fully vaccinated. Why, I'm not sure. The vaccines aren't 100% effective (they say somewhere around 95%) so I guess I was just one of the unlucky 5%. But this column isn't about the effectiveness of the vaccine. I still encourage everyone to get vaccinated, because even if they don't prevent the infection in everyone, they are shown to lessen the symptoms.
Meanwhile, my son has tested negative twice. And because of that, he will end up being quarantined for more than a month. He has to wait 10 days after I get my all-clear before he is released from quarantine. So the one who stayed healthy throughout had the longest quarantine period. Seems a bit counter-intuitive, but since we couldn't fully isolate him from us, his last potential exposure is my last day of isolation.
And because of this long isolation, I heard words from my almost 17-year-old son I never thought I would: "I want to go back to school."
And not just once, but several times he's said this.
It's not that he wants to get up early to make it to school, he just finds himself bored because the lesson plans aren't really meant for remote learners. And he only can see his friends via Zoom.
Of course, if he was in classes designed for fully remote learning, I'm sure they would be more engaging and efficient. I see the same with working from home.
Of course, if this had been 10 or 15 years ago, there wouldn't have been any work or school for us. So an inefficient and less effective environment is better than nothing, I guess.
Being able to be connected to the network and having all the programs and equipment in place makes life so much easier.
And it isn't mostly the big things (having to work outside the traditional system makes everything take longer, with many more steps), but it is the small things I find most difficult to deal with.
I can't just walk out of my office and ask a co-worker a question. I have to pick up the phone, send an email or use our chat program, and then I will only get an immediate answer if the person I am querying is at his or her desk.
And something as simple as printing, signing, scanning and emailing something to another person is not simple when you don't have a business quality, networked printer/scanner at home.
Even dealing with regular mail (yes, people do still communicate via the United States Postal Service) is a hassle. I need to impose on someone else to go through the mail and either scan it and send it to me if it needs my immediate attention, or have someone else deal with something that should have been my task.
While progress has been made for remote work to work, these last two weeks have shown me we still have far to go.
And for now, I echo my son. "I want to go back to the office."
Denielle Cazzolla is editor of The Daily Star. She can be reached at 607-441-7259 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her @DS_DenielleC on Twitter.