For the millions of Americans working remotely since March, it has been a year of challenges, opportunities, and getting really, really comfortable with Zoom.
Some have found unprecedented flexibility, fitting in workouts and lunch breaks where they couldn’t before, or moving to new places. Others have struggled to balance the demands of virtual school with back-to-back video conferences. Even those eager to keep working remotely in a post-pandemic future miss catching up with co-workers in the elevator and chatting in person with clients. Here’s how some of their lives have changed:
Marianne Gooch, 63
Executive speech consultant, Houston
“What I miss the most is touch—shaking a hand, or people that I know really well—giving business hugs, or just seeing someone if I go to a networking event. Nothing sparks creativity like somebody coming up with a good idea in a meeting. Zoom can do that, but there are limitations to Zoom.”
Ruthie Townsend, 26
Sales representative, Denver
“I always take a break around 12 and I used to never take a lunch break, really. Now I’m like, ‘I’m going to go do something with a friend quickly, work out or actually eat lunch and not stare at my computer.’ I actually eat real food now because I made it, not just a peanut butter sandwich, which I used to eat every day.”
Donna Medrek, 50
Legal consultant, Chicago
“By 8 o’clock I just want to go to bed. I’m keeping [my son] on task, keeping myself on task. I have to work harder and work every day to kind of play catch-up…It’s an everyday thing, they’re just longer days. I am very grateful that I have a job that allows me to work from home.”
Jordan Thompson, 30
Financial planner, Atlanta
“My normal day-to-day is going into the office, but also meeting with clients….When you’re doing Zoom meetings you’re seeing each other, but do you have their undivided attention? It’s difficult for people in my line of work, but in some ways it can be easier. Instead of seeing five clients a day because of traffic, you might see 10 clients a day via video calls.”
Brandi Jeter Riley, 41
Data annotation manager, Oakland, Calif.
“There were times when [managers] would set meetings and make a change really quick around 8 or 5, and that’s the time we go to preschool or pick up from after school. Now that everybody is home and they’re there with their kids also, they really recognize this is what working from home is.”
Ly Nguyen, 29
Software engineer, Seattle
[After moving in temporarily with family] “I log off by 6 typically, a good eight- to nine-hour workday. Before, when I was in California, I would crack my laptop open as soon as I woke up….I got in at 9:30 or 10, I would leave at 5 to work out, go home, have dinner and then I’d work a little more…Because my family is around, it definitely doesn’t feel good to be working into the night as a consistent behavior.”
Gillian Holdstein, 35
Senior sales director, Sonoma, Calif.
“I’ve had to adjust to working from home but also working on West Coast hours…the window of when I can have calls with people has sort of shrunk. I used to have more time between calls throughout the day and try to space my calendar accordingly. I’m not at liberty to do that, so it’s back-to-back calls from when I get up until 1 or 2.”
Share Your Thoughts
What unexpected benefits and drawbacks of remote work have you discovered? Join the discussion below.
Write to Kathryn Dill at [email protected]
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