My son Court told me the other day that his place of employment — a major U.S. corporation — has indicated that it looks like their employees will keep working from home until mid-2021. They have a fancy-dancy office in downtown Denver, but they just deem it too risky to have employees working that closely together. Court wasn’t too surprised to hear that since the COVID numbers have been going up. Even if our prayers come true, by time a vaccine is goes through the approval process and is distributed, it will likely be mid-next-year.
He is bummed. Of all of the people I know who have been working from home since mid-March, he is in the top tier of disliking his current working conditions. Part of it is that his house doesn’t have a designated office space, so he has had to kind of be a wandering. He has to compete with his three kids who are now also attending school virtually. Talk about needing bandwidth!
To my surprise, Court’s biggest complaint, however, is that he isn’t around his coworkers. It is frustrating to not be able to walk down to the cubicle 300 steps away to ask a simple question. Or maybe talk about the score of the football game the past weekend.
When Bill left the Denver law firm in which he was a partner for many years to start his own private practice, he bucked the trend. After a brief stint with an office, he soon began working from home. I said above that he bucked the trend, because at that time it was really unusual for a person in a professional position to not have an office and a secretary. For one thing, it was the mid-1980s, and computers were the size of Rhode Island. The first personal computers were just being introduced, and Bill was one of the first in line.
After we were married and started looking for our house, one must-have for him was a home office. Nowadays, many homes — and probably most newly-built homes — have home offices. At that time, it wasn’t as common. Our house has an office.
He always loved having his office at home. When he lobbied, he was rarely home during the day. But even when the legislature wasn’t in session, he kept busy with legal work. He never found being at home distracting, mostly because he could — and would — work whenever the need struck. So if he was writing a brief, he might be in his pajamas working away until 11:30 or midnight.
I loved it because during the day, he would do the laundry or clean the house or load the dishwasher between phone calls. He never cooked a meal because Bill McLain doesn’t cook. But I would come home to an already-made cocktail, and that didn’t suck.
I know there was a difference, because he worked for himself. He had no employees, no wondering if everybody was being as productive as he. There was no such thing as FaceTime or Zoom, so he could really stay in his sweat pants all day. And there wasn’t a pandemic, so he could meet friends for lunch any time he wanted to get out of the house. A bit different than today’s Workers from Home.
I have been thinking about how once again, Bill was a trend setter. He embraced technology early and often, and it made working at home easier. Still, it is my firm hope that all of the at-home workers get back to their offices soon.