Working from home, and taking a break from work
Two things about work:
1. I have now gotten approval to work from home permanently. I’ll still go in to the office now and then to see colleagues, as appropriate, but most of the time, I can stay home.
I know that lots of people hate working from home, and y’all have my sympathies. (As do my colleagues who applied to work from home but were turned down.)
But for me, it’s great. I’ve never enjoyed commuting (even though my commute is very short), and my social anxiety and introversion have always made working in the office a little stressful. And in my current situation, everyone else in my group works in a different state or country from me, so if I did go in to the office, it would involve sitting alone in an office, in a building filled with people I don’t know who work on unrelated teams. I wouldn’t get any of the serendipitous hallway interaction that our upper management believes is essential to work.
So for me, this is a relief. And I hope that those of you who are not in a working location that you’re comfortable or happy with will end up in a better situation soon.
2. I have also now gotten approval to go on leave this fall.
I’ve done this a couple of times before: taken a couple of months off work to decompress. It’s been really good for me each time, though in the past I’ve always tried to schedule way too much during that time off.
(I’ve usually taken two months off, during which time I’ve planned to do two months’ worth of traveling to visit faraway friends, two months’ worth of writing fiction, and two months’ worth of relaxing at home. Somehow the math never quite works out.)
This time, I’ll be off work from late September through the end of the year. I’ll spend about a month of that time in Oak Park, and I’ll spend a week or so at the end of the year attending Worldcon in Washington, D.C. (assuming the pandemic isn’t significantly worse by then), but I expect to spend most of my time off just relaxing at home.
I had originally planned to go on leave last year, but as usually happens with this kind of thing, I ended up delaying due to unexpected external factors, in this case the pandemic.
At this point, I really need the downtime. Work has been pretty stressful for the past few months (I mean, stressful by the standards of a Silicon Valley individual-contributor job, which is to say not nearly as stressful as many jobs are), and I’ve been feeling burned out and overwhelmed.
This past week has been a lot better at work than things have been for the past few months. But even so, it’s time for me to take some time off.
I recognize that all this puts me in a hugely privileged situation; even many of my colleagues can’t afford to take unpaid time off, and I know that lots of people in lots of jobs really need downtime but aren’t likely to get any anytime soon. I hope that someday everyone can get the downtime that they need.