This has indeed been a strange year. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone and has changed the way we do things perhaps forever.

The COVID‑19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2).[1] The disease was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China.[4] The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020 and a pandemic on 11 March
– Wikipedia

March 16 2020 was the day I was sent home from the office until further notice and I still spend most days working from home. This has definitely changed the way that at least the IT industry works perhaps forever. This new working arrangement has brought both some good and some bad and who knows what other changes this pandemic will bring.

When I started thinking about writing this blog post I definitely only saw the positives of working from home, but as I started writing I found more pain points than expected.

The biggest upside working from home is defiantly spending more time with my family. We will have breakfast and lunch together which never happened when I was working in the office. We have taken to cooking our lunch together, and eating something freshly cooked beats crappy lunch restaurants or reheated lunchbox food.

Cutting out traveling time is another great benefit about working from home. I save about one hour a day. These days I wake up, take my dog for a walk then I can work for an hour or two before I sit down for breakfast.

Being more in control of how you set out your day is liberating, naturally there are several things in my working day that I have to do during office hours, but some days I might go grocery shopping between meetings and instead work one hour in the evening. This flexibility is really a great bonus of not being bound to the office.

There has been proof that world pollution has decreased during the height of the pandemic as no-one could travel, especially flying all over the world for unnecessary meetings.

But as with all good things there is usually a drawback somewhere and here are some that I have found:

As organisations have adapted to the remote working way whole businesses have embraced tools like Slack and Teams, previously only used by the development teams. This has created an unhealthy expectation of availability. It is far too easy to demand attention outside of normal working hours by sending messages or scheduled meetings far later than would normally be acceptable. Naturally you can switch off all communication channels after 5pm but that is not really how we developers work and this might push people to burn out.

Not being (physically) close to the team you work in also has some challenges in communicating effectually. It is very easy to hurt peoples feeling with a message as they usually lack the same eloquence as a face-to-face spoken conversation. Team spirit has also been hit during our forced separation and it is difficult to know if someone is stuck on a task or need help when we all work in our own little bubble.

Teamwork and culture suffer when we are not working together. It is extremely hard to keep the togetherness when we work isolated for as long as this pandemic has forced us to do and no communication application in the world can solve that. This problem only gets bigger the longer we are apart.

Working from home has usually been frowned upon as a way of skiving off and not working as hard as when your are in an office. What I have found during this forced isolation is that I work way more from home. Yes there is definately a period of adjustment, where you easily get distracted with non-work related things, but once you get some discipline you will definitely be more productive and you will definitely work more hours or at least more effectively. I often find that my only break during a day is 20-30 minutes for lunch. This is probably not that healthy and not a sustainable way of working, but organisations that have been reluctant to let staff work from home may rethink this when they see that they will actually get more done.

So will this new way of working continue when/if we get a vaccine for COVID-19? I think it may, or at least organisations will have seen that people actually work hard even if they are not in the office. New markets may also open up for developers as you can effectively deliver whole projects remotely as my team has just done. There might also be an enlightenment in companies that no longer need huge offices in expensive city locations as more and more of their staff work remotely, creating both a cost saving for the company and positively affecting the carbon foot print.

As for me I definitely miss my colleagues and look forward to work more closely with them again. But I have loved working from home and I hope that I will get the choice to choose when I want to do it and not being forced by a pandemic.

Stay safe and healthy out there.

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