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Work from Where? How COVID-19 Helped Me Appreciate Workplace Flexibility

by | April 28, 2020

Last Monday I left the city under a dark morning sky by the light of a heavy full moon.

With the river on my left I cruised north, up Manhattan, and crossed the George Washington bridge with a symbolic sigh of relief.

The weather forecast called for beyond beautiful springtime temperatures and I couldn’t bear to spend the day in a poorly lit apartment. I shot straight up to Bear Mountain State Park and by 7:30 I was picking my way up an incline in the first shreds of daylight. From the top, the Hudson River sparkled and mountains sprawled out into the distance, blue with haze.

I hustled on the way down. I wasn’t playing hooky – with the coronavirus increasing in variability and contagion, the Base Beauty office held a trial week of working from home before transitioning to an indefinite remote work schedule. 

By my first meeting I was sitting in Peekskill Coffee House – a delightful discovery from a past weekend adventure – with a matcha latte and savory crepe sprawled out in front of me like delicious desk accessories.

At noon, between calls, I relocated to a rustic venue called Kurzhals Coffee, two blocks up the road. Located in a historic building, it had multiple rooms and was populated by other twenty-something remote workers and freelancers. I enjoyed a decaf coffee and an artichoke & cheddar scone, admiring the reclaimed wood, exposed brick and antique accessories.

After my 3 o’clock call, I continued my Peekskill work crawl, landing at Peekskill Brewery where I was surprised to find $1 personal pizzas at happy hour. Sitting near the window, I watched the sunset over a mountain top in the distance, the Hudson changing colors in the evening light, commuter trains chugging along and people running and walking outside before the temperature dropped again.

Monday gave me the momentum to get through the rest of a week spent mostly indoors. The next several days were punctuated by random moments of both humor and disappointment, watching the COVID situation unfold, observing my roommates adjust to the changes in their own work schedules, cancelling travel and feeling antsy. 

In general, I love working remotely. It’s easier for me to get in the zone and remain focused, but I felt distracted last week by quickly changing current events and social situations. My focus was divided between normal work functions and keeping up with ever-evolving developments effecting our clients on social media, as well as a low-grade general anxiety caused by uncertainty and a desire to be out of the city as tensions rose. On Saturday, I left the city, temporarily relocating to my family’s home in South Carolina where we could quarantine together for as long as necessary.

As uncertain as this all is, I’m looking forward to telecommuting the next few weeks from the Carolinas, where most of my family will also be working from home, and a peaceful backyard waits for me if I ever need a momentary break or a literal breath of fresh air.