Thursday, May 16, 2019

Sensitivity and the Fine Art of WFH

"WFH" is a kind of business short-hand for "work from home".

(Looking out my home office window)

I'll say it right from the beginning:  I don't like working from home.  As I may have mentioned before*, I almost never work from home.  At my former employer, I think I had WFH days maybe three times over almost 28 years.  I had opportunities, mind you, but I just don't like it.  There is something about driving to and from the office that I find mildly productive and, in a way, relaxing.  On the drive to work, I can think about what I want to accomplish first in the day.  On the drive home, I can use the commute time as a kind of decompression chamber.  What's more, I am far too comfortable in my own head, so it's a challenge for me to interact with others in an office setting.  Not working from home just seems to work for me.

Make that "worked" for me.

For the past few weeks, I've been WFH three days (Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, to be precise) a week.  I'm doing my best to make it work (no pun intended), and slowly but surely I'm adjusting.  Why the need to adjust in the first place?  Well, there's the fact that I actually no longer officially support (by way of job/title/responsibilities) anyone in my office.  In fact, since last July, my team has been a virtual one, with none of my co-workers actually working out of a company office.  Then there is the sheer economics of it all, as in I save driving 48 miles a day by not trekking into the office. 

The above are some solid reasons, for sure.  They are, however, not the driving reasons.  To put it delicately, my current office location is a difficult place these days.  The company has been re-allocating resources, and with that, there is a fair amount of what I will honestly call despair.  It's a difficult environment for me to be in, in part because I can literally feel much of the negativity.  Granted that I am the last person on Earth to spout new-age stuff, but even the least sensitive person in the world could feel the negative tension in the air.  Yes, I get the need for businesses to change and adapt, and this isn't intended to be a screed about the corporate practices in 2019.  However, actions have consequences, be they the actions of a15-year-old boosting chocolate milk from Turkey Hill or those of a multi-national corporation shuffling jobs across the planet.  In the end, and merits of change theory aside for a moment, it's just not healthy for me to be in the office.

Why go in at all?  While I no longer have any direct reports, I still have 3 former team members in the office, so I owe it to them to at least provide some kind of moral, if not practical, support.  It may not be much...that is what I am able to give...but I owe it to them to give something.  Loyalty is important, especially in dark times.  We have nothing if we don't have each other.

Is there a bigger story in all of this?  Absolutely, and maybe I'll tell it one of these days.  Until then, I'm going to continue to craft some kind of WFH routine.  I'm not shooting to love the WFH thing, just maybe make it more palatable.



(*) It's hard to remember what I write here, in all honesty, as "here" is over two thousand postings, so you'll pardon me if I can't remember every word in every former posting.  Honestly, I am lucky if I remember what I had for lunch yesterday.


Sunday, May 5, 2019

May is Mental Health Month

(A small part of my library)

There are literally months for everything these days, so the fact that May is Mental Health Month probably escapes most people, including me (up until recently).  Not to slander other month-worthy topics, but I can think of very few things that we need to talk more about in this country than mental health.  I know I talk about it on this blog quite a bit; in fact, there are about 78 postings tagged to 'Mental Health' so far.  Make that 79 after this one.

In the interest of complete transparency, I will note that I think about mental health quite a bit.  That would be my own, family members, co-workers, friends and the subject in general.  As I've grown older, I've come to realize just how much mental health has been an underlying theme in my life.  I'm not going to get into any details that might compromise others, but suffice to say I have had people very close to me deal with significant issues over the years.  Part of my own struggle has centered around a central question: 

Why me?  Why am I (seemingly) okay when ________ isn't?  What makes me so special?  

The above are not necessarily pleasant thoughts.  Rather, at times I've suffered from a kind of survivor's (literal survivor...) guilt.  I know, I should be grateful for what I have in the mental health department, but that doesn't make the sting of dealing loved ones who struggle any easier.  On one hand, every time I've helped someone in some small way in this area I seem to get a bit more enlightened, a bit stronger.  On the other hand, well, I've had far more failures than successes when it comes to others, at least in my own mind.

"When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.*"

Part of the challenge, at least for me, is the fact that I try and process the world around me using logic and reasoning.  That's all well and good, except for the fact that logic and reasoning are of little help in an arena that is inherently illogical and at times unreasonable.  That's something I tell others all the time but yet I have to tell myself even more frequently in some circumstances.  Sometimes I hear that self advice but yet still don't follow it.  Maybe that's one of my mental health issues.

So what does all this mean, other than the intemperate ramblings of an exceptionally amateur person that writes?  Maybe the answer is as simple as this:  We need to talk about this stuff more often, regardless of whether or not you find yourself being the patient or the caregiver.  In point of fact, for most of us, well, we usually end up being both.  That makes the dealing with the whole stigma thing about mental health issues all the more important, as we can pretend these issues don't exist in our lives, managing to fool everyone in the world except the person that matters the most:  Ourselves. 

You can learn more about Mental Health Month by following THIS link.





(*) Grace Slick, White Rabbit