I feel like my legs are wrapped in rhinoceros skin when I put on jeans these days, so the much more formal pants I bought at 50% off during the height of the pandemic are out of the question.
I love makeup, but all I do is apply a pea-sized drop of sunscreen to my face before my morning meetings.
The kitchen table doubles as a cabin, and I’ve made peace with this uninspiring setup.
I never thought this would happen to my outgoing self. I didn’t think I had it in me. Turns out I am. I got used to working from home.
Yet there are times when I yearn to be in a fully functioning newsroom again, where my colleagues and I can collaborate and chat face to face. But when plans for a mandatory two-day in-person week were shelved for the Sun-Times last month, I felt a wave of relief.
A few days later, however, I felt sad, demonstrative of the unstable tug of war between my preference for the new normal and the yearning for the pre-COVID era where I went to the office trying to look like a professional journalist. print media – which, let’s face it, isn’t too difficult a feat.
“Don’t kid yourself,” my husband, Mick, assured me, knowing full well I’m not a morning person. “You would be the first to complain about waking up earlier.” Very true.
I liked being able to multi-task – tossing daal on the stove, helping babysit my nieces and nephews, doing an oil change – while keeping a daily journal.
But I miss meeting my closest work friends while going to the bathroom to attend the Kardashians and movie awards shows. While I adore Mick — my only co-worker at home most days — discussions of the intricacies of Northwestern football, the superiority of Michigan-grown fruit, and his exhaustive collection of vinyl records haven’t been as fun. In the meantime, he told me that he would like to be able to talk to someone from the Wu-Tang Clan. Hit.
To mix it up, once a week, I go to my mother’s house where my little sister, a state investigator, works a few meters away. Having a relative in the background is like having a live boss, although I’ve never had a supervisor ask me to talk to my loved ones overseas on WhatsApp while I’m in the middle of an assembly.
This extra time with loved ones is ultimately what led most of my family, friends, and co-workers to conclude that remote work is the way to go if they have the chance. Mutiny is what would happen if corporations demanded a full-time return to the office, I joked. It’s not exaggerated. When news outlets last week cited recent surveys that found many young adults hate working from home, some Gen Zers hit back on social media, blaming less tech-savvy baby boomers for wrote the articles.
Truth be told, I – a Gen Xer – felt for young journalists and interns who have only met their editors virtually and are partially navigating their careers online in a profession where interpersonal skills cannot be honed in emails or a tweet.
It doesn’t help that psychologists have warned that viewing images of yourself on a laptop during Zoom meetings can do a number on your mental health, especially for women who have more pressure than men to look a certain way.
Turning off the camera during a video call, which I do occasionally, is also an option, but conversations can be even harder to follow without facial cues. I’m just counting my blessings that I don’t have to attend too many Zoom parties anymore, which can be depressing, watching attendees force themselves to look excited when they’re not. At least with business meetings, employees don’t have to pretend or look like they’re having a good time.
Soon, Sun-Times employees will be able to reserve a desk at the Old Post Office or at Navy Pier, where our partner, WBEZ, has offices and studios.
Not sure how popular this will be for veterans used to having their own workstation or rookies who might just take it back to their apartments instead of making sure there’s free space available before the date of their assignment. Time will tell us.
For now, this woman’s place is in the home.
Rummana Hussain is a columnist and member of the editorial board of the Sun-Times.
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