Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Secret, Essential Geography of the Office

Paul Ford, in a perfect essay for Wired:

Home is supposed to be a constant, steady place, a shelter for a family. It shouldn’t change very much. But an office is basically a big clock with humans for hands. And I find that the people who don’t want to go back to pre-pandemic office culture are the people who are the most concerned about their time. Sometimes this is their personality; they are engineers who look at travel as a waste, who seek efficiencies in their work and health. Sometimes they’re people with other stress, like parents of young children who triangulate between the day care’s schedule, their boss’s expectations, and kids’ needs. For a disabled person, working from home can save hours of daily, needless negotiation. All of these cases are utterly valid. And yet we’re going back. Maybe not all of us, maybe with hybrid schedules. But most of us. We all know it.

This is, as I say, a perfect essay. I would not change one word. But, though I am skeptical of my ability to make a contribution, I always like to add a little something to these links, so here goes.

The thing I miss most about living and working in different places is that it is necessary to travel between them. I began missing my commute so much that, last summer and autumn, I would often take long walks after a workday. That now feels like a luxury. As I write this, Environment Canada’s website tells me that it feels like thirty degrees below freezing and, if I had to go into the office tomorrow at my usual time, it is forecasted to feel ten degrees colder than that.

Much as I am glad to not be turned into a human icicle, the missing drumbeat of home-walk-work-walk-home has been a difficult adaptation. To make matters more monotonous, I am working from the same home office every day because my computer with all of my work stuff is an iMac and it is difficult to drag around. So it doesn’t matter what I am doing — writing email, meeting colleagues, having a quick chat — it all happens in exactly the same place staring at exactly the same screen sitting in exactly the same chair rolling around on exactly the same rug. The rug is a new addition for this year, actually; I thought it would help make my work space feel different and separate. It felt that way for only about a week.

I wonder, will my home office ever become part of my home again, or will it always feel like an extension of where I work?