Are you one of those who is tired of the whole extroverts vs. introverts and tips on how to do a wide variety of things if you are one or the other? If your answer is yes, then please bear with me as I am likely doing that exact same thing again. The only thing I can promise is that I will try and make it an easy read.
A little bit of context on why I am writing this, or rather some creds - Most people who know me would call me an extrovert and I have been working from home for the past 4+ years. Yeah, from before the pandemic.. Yeah so one of the rarer ones who chose to work from home vs. being forced to. And in my case, it definitely was a choice as I started working from home when I became an entrepreneur.
Now that we are in the post pandemic phase, we may all be in various degrees of working from home, by choice and my experience may be more relevant now. Hence, this piece.
The choice to work from home was not just a choice made because of us just starting up and not wanting to invest in office spaces right away (though that's perfectly good thinking, and now the pandemic has irrevocably proven it works). It was a strategic and vision-led choice. We believed in flexible work so completely that we wanted to embrace it right from the get go and have it almost intuitively built into the fabric of our startup. And that's how I, an extrovert, who loved going to the office, whose friends list was mostly colleagues or ex-colleagues, whose social calendar was filled with get-togethers and catch-ups with friends and colleagues, started to work from home.
The transition to working from home seemed smooth in the beginning. Of course, there was the excitement of starting up itself, which likely coloured the first couple of months.. But sometime soon enough, I started to feel it - that something wasn't right. It mostly manifested in arguments with my spouse. Once I realised that the crux of most of our disagreements was usually around socialising was when I actually realised how much I was missing people. Point to note is that I was talking to others enough though, as my co-founders and I spoke everyday and we also spoke to clients, our team members etc. Despite connecting to people, I think it was the whole physicality of meeting, talking, eating together etc. which I was missing. Most of you would have felt this in some form as the pandemic forced everyone to work from home. It would've been a sudden and rough transition for most.
Once you know what the problem is then that's half the battle won isn't it? That’s what I thought too and went about fixing the problem.
Some articles I read about this - though again, as this was pre pandemic there were way fewer ‘10 Tips for Extroverts on how to work from home and not become crazy’ type of articles - suggested working in coffee shops vs. from home. I think the whole hassle of transporting all my work paraphernalia back and forth, and liking coffee but not enough to have multiple cups, and not actually connecting to people, it did not work as much for me.
One thing that worked for me is simply meeting people. I made sure that I met people as much as I could (my own social calendar independent of the one with my spouse) - not just on weekends, sometimes during the week also. You have to make adjustments in your schedule sometimes to make this happen. But my realisation made this a priority so that's what I did, and it helped.
The other thing that helped was just getting out - even if not meeting people. Getting out for a walk mostly, or going out for a coffee for a break. We also moved at this time to a place where there were a lot more areas to walk and to enjoy nature. Could be the feeling of being in a different, more open space, or could be the connection with nature, but this did help. A lot of people (during the pandemic especially) seem to be making their own nature havens, with house plants and gardening really taking off, and I feel this is likely because of this whole connection to nature.
Post a year or so of working from home, I could say that I had found my rhythm - I had settled into working from home and a mix of things - video calling whenever possible (for work and personal calls), a decent cadence of meeting friends, clients and colleagues in person, and stepping out for walks; all of this made me feel good and kept my spirits high.
So post this, when the pandemic struck, I found myself in a much better place to cope with the change - even for me who was working from home for some time, it was a change as social visits really just went away. So, I had to rely more on video calls, on the connection to nature and a much reduced social interaction group. But I felt much better equipped to do so, as I had weathered my personal work from home transition before.
So now I feel completely at home, working from home :)