How my opinion has changed since becoming a dad
Over the last 12 years I’ve worked in 3 different Arkadin offices (Toronto, New York and Atlanta) and have been fortunate enough to visit a bunch more across the Arkadin world. On top of that, I get to visit/explore new client offices every day. So I’ve seen my fair share of offices (rough calculations are ~3,000 to-date) and every office is unique. The energy, vibe and physical layout of each space is different and it’s the result of the people that call it their home (away from home).
It’s this energy, camaraderie and team-first approach that gets me excited every day to come to the office. For the first 10 years of my career, my preference was to work from the office and for my team to be in the office everyday (unless they were out selling). If you speak to anyone that’s worked with me they will back up my love for the office environment and team culture created by being in the same physical space. In retrospect, it was easy to create this culture when the entire team was fresh out of school, starting out in the working world. and had few commitments that got in the way.
I remember earlier in my career not really understanding why some colleagues couldn’t adhere to the same schedule of “in early, out late” or why there was an interest in working from home. The common explanations were usually about flexibility with home life, peace and quiet to focus or a preference to not spend hours traveling every day. At the time, I saw working from home as a way to slack off and multi-task. I realize that sounds archaic now… but that’s what I thought back then and it’s important to share my past views as a foundation for how things have changed.
*Important note: I still believe working remotely is a privilege earned not automatically granted (unless geographic distance doesn’t permit it…more on this later)*
On December 28, 2015 my perspective on working from home changed. My incredibly awesome wife and I welcomed our first child into our lives.
After a week at home I returned to work and had my first “aha” moment before lunch on day 1: my world now had a greater purpose than work (and my wife). I was now part of a bigger family including a little pint-size human that depended on me in ways someone at the office (or home) never had before. Over the next 2 years I quickly learned the importance of flexible hours (when needed) to go to the doctor, drop off at daycare or fly home in the middle of the day (vs early in the morning) to avoid conflicting with nap schedules.
Initially, it was hard to adjust to the competing priorities at the office and at home. At the office, I often found myself wanting to be home helping out. At home, I sometimes felt concerned about falling behind at work. It’s a challenge that I imagine all parents struggle with and I can only imagine it gets more intense as kids grow up.
Recently, we moved back to Toronto (from Atlanta) and a morning commute went from 10 minutes to 1 hour. This change in routine has given me a greater appreciation for the competing priorities and scheduling challenges of office-based work. With 2 hours of everyday spent commuting, 9–10 hours at work, 1 hour in the gym and 7–8 hours sleeping, it leaves 3 hours for family time. It’s even more difficult when my son’s bedtime is 7pm and I don’t leave work until 5:30 or 6pm. Need less to say, I an starting to truly appreciate the importance of work/life balance.
A good friend and colleague of mine is always trying new things to develop/grow (e.g. learning how to handstands or reading a book a week) and I decided to take a page from his book. Over the last month I tried an experiment where I worked from home one day a week. I was hesitant to try it because of my love for the office. Turns out, it’s been a great experience and I’ve actually enjoyed it.
Below is a summary of my take-always after month 1:
The good: flexibility
- I got to be a dad and husband in the morning: I worked out, got my son out of bed, ate breakfast with my son and my wife, and then gave them both a kiss and logged on to start work by 7am.
- I got more done during the day. There were less physical distractions (walk-by traffic) and my focus was better on key tasks.
- I got to be a dad/husband at dinner time and still work almost an 11-hour day (7am — 5:59pm). The one minute commute down to the dinner table for 6pm was unreal and a lot less tiring.
- When I was hungry, I had access to an entire kitchen (big bonus)
- Met my wife for lunch (which is very rare and a nice treat)
- I’m a social creature and do like being around the team. It was weird sitting in a room by myself and working away. I’ve never been a fan of closed door offices and working from home was the ultimate closed-door world.
- F.O.M.O.: the fear of missing out is real, at least for me. I like laughing about things with the team, candid moments and lunch club.
- Internet speed: I am on video calls throughout the day and WiFi isn’t the best for video.
Lessons learned from the first 30 days:
- Working from home does not equal slacking off.
- Being a dad/husband and crushing it at work is easier to do without 2+ hours of commuting.
- I like the office and will continue to go into the office for the interaction, collaboration and laughs.
- You can still have high-quality interactions virtually thanks to the awesome tools available to us with Office 365, Skype for Business and Teams (although it’s not the same as face-to-face sessions)
- It’s time to upgrade the home internet and get a hardline to the office.
I’m curious to hear what you think about working from home? Any tips/tricks? It’s still one of those topics that is highly debated. There are definitely many sides to this one. As a serious supporter of the office I am not advocating for working remotely 100% of the time (if you are close to an office), however it seems to get a bad rap at times.
Special note: I’ve had the privilege to work with some incredible people that are home-based 100% of the time and I have an incredible amount of admiration and respect for them. They (y’all know who you are in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New York) have always demonstrated a work ethic that is phenomenal and deliver quality work regardless of where their desk physically sits.