History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Returning to the Office and Writing

It’s been almost two years since I’ve worked in the physical office for more than one day a week. But as the company I work for moves toward a hybrid work plan, in which I’ll be working from the office two days a week, I’m finding I have to re-learn what it’s like to write when going to the office is back in my life.

For me, my new commute involves driving to a park and ride and then taking the train to the office, which involves leaving 45 minutes before my work day starts. And while the train is a faster and a smoother ride than the bus, I might wind up seated in a row that goes backward or might not get a seat at all. So I can’t rely on my morning commute for writing time.

Prior to the pandemic, I often spent my lunch break writing. But after two years of not doing that, I find that it’s more difficult to turn my brain toward writing (or even writing business tasks) during my lunch break. I’ll have to work back up to that, much as I’m finding I need to work up the stamina to be in the office for 9 hours (8 hours of work and my lunch break).

With the commute home, I take the train back and then have to drive the last chunk. This gets me home roughly 45 minutes later than I would finish my day of working from home. Again, it’s not productive time, for the same reasons as my morning commute isn’t productive.

I also find that when I get back into the apartment after being gone for 10 1/2 hours, I’m exhausted. I’ve walked more in the office and to and from transit than I do even on days when I set out to take a walk or visit the zoo. So I’m also not ready to jump right into writing. There’s dinner to prepare and eat, and little household things to take care of. And my cats to pet, since they are convinced that I had abandoned them forever by being out of their sight for so long.

And I can’t squeeze more time out of my evenings, either, because I need to get to bed on time, so I can wake up roughly an hour earlier than I normally do if I have to go to the office the next day too. So I wind up with only a couple of hours to write, where previously I could manage three or more in the evenings.

So there’s a lot of adjustments that need to be made, even if I am only going to the office two days a week, especially because at present, the three days I might potentially go to the office are also my writing weeknights. I may end up needing to reconsider which nights of the week I write so that I can have at least two nights a week when I go from my work desk to my writing desk without a commute. Or I may have to scale back how much I plan to get done, or plan to work more on the weekends, with my potential writing time being reduced on two of my three writing nights.

No matter what I decide, it’s going to be an adjustment. I still have some time to figure it out, as we aren’t officially starting hybrid work for a few more months (and that could change again before it’s implemented). But in the meantime, I’ll be experimenting with some different options to figure out a way to get writing done when I have to be in the office part time.

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