I am lucky. Since March, I have been fortunate enough to work my job from home. In a year of great uncertainty where so many people are hurting financially, emotionally, and physically – I am lucky.
Although the circumstances are beyond unfortunate, working from home has improved my life in so many ways that I don’t know if I could bring myself to go back to the office again – and why should I? My job duties have been entirely unaffected by working from home. If anything, I’m more focused at home with less outside distractions. Meetings are easily held via Zoom calls and a secure end-to-end encrypted VPN allows me to access the company network which has all the data and software necessary to perform my job duties. From my employer’s perspective, it doesn’t matter whether I’m sitting in the office on-site or sitting in my office at home – I’m performing the same job. If anything, making work-from-home a permanent policy would save them money in reduced office-space and electricity costs.
Financial and Time Benefits of Working from Home
From where I live, it takes about 1 hour (50 miles) of highway driving to get to work. That’s 2 hours of driving each work day, 10 hours of driving per week, 40 hours of driving per month, and 480 hours of driving per year (minus vacation/sick/holiday time). That’s 20 days and 24,000 miles per year that I spend in my car just to get to-and-from work. My wife drives a slightly shorter distance in the opposite direction to get to her job, which brings the total to nearly 40 days per year of driving between the two of us. That’s just driving our cars to get to-and-from work.
Running the numbers on my credit card statements, I spent $3,104 on gas in 2019. Since March this year, I have spent only $295 on gas. Not to mention, the frequency that oil changes were needed.
To summarize, working from home provides the following benefits for me:
- Reduces 20 days of commute time to 0
- Reduces 24,000 extra miles on my car to 0
- Reduces approximately $3,1000 spent on gas to approximately $300
- Less frequent oil changes
Time spent with my family is something I value now more than ever. My son, Ryker, was born in August 2019 and instantly became the brightest spot in my life. In the 7 months between his birth and when I started working from home, I hardly saw him except for on the weekends. When I woke up for work, he would be sleeping. By the time I got home from work, he would soon be ready for bed.
At the office, I would often find myself daydreaming about playing with him, or looking at pictures of him on my phone. I even bought one of those digital photo frames for my desk and loaded it up with pictures of him to see while working. My Mother-in-Law came from China shortly after he was born and has been shouldering the burden of caring for him while we work. He’s her only grandchild, so I’m sure it’s a joy for her.
Now that I work from home, I see Ryker way more than before and have gotten the chance to truly bond with him. Every morning I tell him “Good morning!” when he wakes up. At the office, if my eyes were ever too strained from looking at the computer monitor, I would go take a short walk. Now if my eyes need a break, I go see what my boy is up to. When work ends at 5:00 PM, there’s no hour-long drive before I get home to a sleepy little guy – he’s just playing in the other room waiting for Da-da.
My wife and I have had more time together as well, since she is also fortunate enough to work from home. We were both commuting to work, on different schedules, with different days off. There were actually few times we would see each other outside of work, aside from one day off that coincided.
Trying to find more time to see my son between work commutes meant nearly cutting the gym out of my life completely. Since I discovered the joy of working out a few years ago, the gym has been a crucial part of my life. It’s made me healthier, given me more self-confidence, and improved my mood – but in an effort to see my son more, I stopped going as often after work, and I could tell I was starting to slip back into a more sedentary lifestyle.
Now that I work from home, I have plenty of time to work out after he goes to sleep. One of my pandemic realizations was that a gym isn’t necessary for attaining the level of fitness I want. A weight bench, pull-up bar, adjustable dumbbells, some grippers, and an ab wheel are all I need to get an awesome full-body work-out. For the value they provide, these items were fairly inexpensive and take up a very small amount of space. The gym will be a distant memory for me, even when they are fully open again.
Aside from working out and precious time with my son, I also have more time for creative activities like this blog! Since I gave up video games, I’ve discovered that writing is a fulfilling activity for me – which is bizarre, because I’m not exactly an avid reader. We’ve also created a YouTube channel where we’ll be posting videos occasionally (we’re working on a series of Mandarin vocabulary lessons – stay tuned).
Lastly, I’m finally accomplishing a goal that I’ve been attempting for years: growing my hair out. It may sound stupid, but I’ve always wanted to have long hair. However, I could never get through the awkward phase of growth without buzzing it. Not anymore! I hardly go outside now, so no one can say, “You need a haircut!” I buzzed my hair on November 29, 2019, haven’t touched it since, and am very happy with the results.
Hang in There
This experience of working from home is just something I wanted to share, because the impact it’s had on my life is tremendous. I hope that employers will recognize the benefits of remote work going forward.
If you’re reading this and things haven’t been going so well for you this year – I’m sorry to hear that. With the recent vaccine news, hopefully the end of this thing is on the horizon. Hang in there.