Remote Work Makes Me Intentional with Relationships
Thanks for visiting this site over the last twenty-four hours since I “launched” it! I’m happy to know that a bunch of you are wondering about the future of working from home, too. Before I get to the meat of this post, I want to reiterate that this blog is meant for anyone working from home, curious about working from home, or in charge of policies that affect the schedules of employees. I imagine I’ll have more content about working from home as a parent than someone who doesn’t have a child, but this blog is meant for everyone.
I debated whether to start this post with a “tip” for effective remote work, a link to one of the many pieces of research coming out about working from home, or something about WFH benefits. Tomorrow I’ll share a tip, but today I’d like to my perspective on working from home and personal relationships.
Working from home can get lonely, and there are lots of articles out there discussing this concern. It’s true. I’ve had periods of loneliness. But I’d like to articulate a less-cited position: working from home has encouraged me to be more intentional with my relationships.
At times when I’ve worked outside my home, I’ve tended to let my work dictate the extend and complexion of my friendships and relationships. I’ve worked with some great people so that hasn’t always been a bad thing! (Kevin and I in fact met when we shared an office as teachers).
But when my social life was determined mostly by work, I found that I was less likely to think about the kinds of relationships that I most wanted in my life, and I was even more unlikely to be the planner or the initiator who actively built friendships and mentorships.
Now that I work from home, however, if I want to interact with anyone apart from my husband or child, I have to make a plan to do so. I’ve found that rather than becoming more isolated, working from home motivates me to think about who I want to be friends with, how I make friends and mentors, and the kinds of activities and conversations I want to be part of my of life.
Not only that, but slimming down my workday interactions gives me space and energy to think about and – dare I say – strategize the relationships in my life. It’s hard to feel up to interacting if most of our relationships are incidental and necessitated by the demands of work. For me, I’m happier if the bulk of my human interaction is by choice. (Here I’ll note that I’ve often chosen to be friends with lovely coworkers!)
Maybe this is just a perspective shift. After all, it might be easier to cut off all ties, other than family members and distance faces on a Zoom screen, than to plan intentional friendships. But I’m sharing my experience on intentional relationships in an effort to encourage others to think of it this way too. I hope we’re all living lives surrounded by people who make us happier and healthier versions of ourselves. Having enough energy and time is key to making that happen.
Will an image of ice cream sundaes from my sister’s birthday party (hosted by me!) work for this post?