With the crisis of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), it is never enough nowadays the recommendation to stay at home as much as possible to avoid infecting yourself and others. Here in Brazil the spread of the virus started at the beginning of March. Measures were taken immediately to prevent infection, soap and hand sanitizer flew from the shelves and it is hard to find them even now. A lock-down with only the extremely necessary opened was announced around March 18th, but the company I work advised us wisely to stay at home from Monday that week, March 16th, and I've been at home ever since.
The situation is serious and we all need to take it seriously, but I'm trying to stay positive, principally when it comes to remote working. There are people who really need to go out, meet people, talk face to face, etc. However, it is not like that for the majority of introverts like me. It is not like we don't like to go out at all, but it is not surprising that we generally like to stay at home more than other people, it is inside of our comfort zone. But anyway, I will stop generalizing and talk about my experience exclusively.
Before this crisis I worked from home once per week and since I started doing that I found myself much more productive at home than at the office. Besides staying in my comfort zone, noises and interruptions are less likely. Besides that, I can sleep more and decrease my 2 hours in public transportation to zero! Yes, public transportation around here are cramped and slow, it is not an exaggeration to say that I spend 50% of my energy or more going to and from work. Programming is what I like to do, even in my time off, so at work is more fun than stress (I'm not saying that there is no stressful moments, there is! But often I face them as a challenge), so yes, I spend more energy on my way to work than working. So, at home I'm always 100% after a peaceful breakfast before starting.
There are some interesting things that I noticed during my work remotely and even reading about remote working these days that I find interesting on how it is different and how it is advantageous to me in many ways. Some days ago I read a blog post by Martin Fowler on how to do effective video calls. At my company we don't generally do video calls, we keep with just audio, although the meeting app has this feature, of course. However, some rules apply also to audio calls, principally two that go well together: Mute when you are not talking and Don't talk over people. This is HUGE for an introvert like me. People may think it is an exaggeration, but there are differences in tone of voice and how people behave in meetings and all that. Extroverts are generally the center of attention, they talk a lot and loud, in live meetings people have more freedom to talk over one another and still being understood. People who are introverts, or who are not even introverts, but just have a low tone of voice, are generally overwhelmed.
On video/audio calls the microfones are not that forgiving, people talking over one another is a complete mess, you don't understand anything, so people have to speak one at a time. The participants have to mute and unmute all the time, this also slows the reactions and things get more organized. Also, people tend to be more concise and avoid small talks. In the end, meetings get shorter, more productive and more people are heard. It is a win-win situation in my point of view.
Overall it has been a great experience for me, but I'm aware that this is an extreme case and if things keep that way for long, it will start to get a little boring. Even when you work remotely, sometimes you go out of your house to work at a cafe your something, to change the scenario, this is impossible right now. Let's hope that we can win this battle against the virus soon and companies improve their remote working policies after this great, but unintended, experiment!
Last, but not least, we have to remember the privilege that we have by being able to work from home, there are people who don't have this privilege and are suffering greatly and we need to put them on our thoughts and prayers. We have this privilege, but with it comes great responsibilities. Now than ever before the technology is connecting people, making them see they are not alone even in this crisis. We from IT are working to keep everything running: messaging apps, streaming apps, news sites, social media, etc. I'm proud and humbled to be able to be part of this great team that is keeping everything running so that people stay connected and entertained in the middle of this crisis. We are going to defeat this virus together! :)