It may seem that given my title, I see remote-only work as a negative experience.
Quite the opposite.
I love working remote, and I believe it to be an incredibly positive experience...but I took a lot to be convinced. I needed stronger appeals than the cliche advice of "have a routine," "take breaks," "stretch before work," etc. etc.
After being moved into indefinite remote work as a result of COVID, I did not like it.
Loafing around all day in pajamas was not appealing to me. I like dressing up, and then dressing down, to be the natural boundaries of a day's work (even if dressing up is as simple as jeans and a t-shirt).
I enjoyed my commute. I lived and worked in a scenic small town in Virginia. Driving to work provided a physical sensation to work-life balance. Being in the car in the morning gave me the opportunity to wake up, pray, and get ready for the day in a serene manner.
I appreciated my office ~ large windows, standing desks, unlimited snacks and coffee, company lunches, etc. etc.
Perhaps a select few had similar circumstances and felt those same kinds of attachments to working from an office as I did.
However, I imagine that there is one difference between working in an office and working remotely that speaks to a larger crowd.
That difference being the difference in social interaction between working from an office and working remotely.
I am convinced that unless this obstacle is dealt with, working remote will remain an embittering experience.
I believe that the need for social interaction is natural to our humanity (and not merely out of our interest and prudence), and therefore, it powerful instinct that cannot be shaken.
Even animals, such as sheep, do not do as well alone as in a flock. How much more humans who have been divinely created with reason and speech!
Hence, all the cliche advice for working remotely are unsatisfactory until they deal with the social component.
Am I the first one to point this out? By no means. Many are aware of this problem and have sought to address it.
However, from my experience, the way to address the problem is a bit counterintuitive.
Many people's intuition leads them to champion virtual means of social interaction (i.e. Zoom calls, virtual happy hours, etc. etc.).
The problem is that if the instinct for face-to-face social interaction is natural; virtual supplements for social interaction will always fall short. They will always be, to some extent, artificial.
Now, I'm not against virtual communication. It is a blessing and mercy of modernity. But, it never can be a replacement for face-to-face interaction.
So, it follows that only pleasing work solution is to work in an office with other? Not necessarily.
I believe the antidote to negativity surrounding remote work, which is primarily due to a sense of lack of face-to-face social interaction, is not to expect your work to be the means of your face-to-face social interaction.
Now, I will withhold from commenting on where to get your face-to-face social interaction. But, I hope that merely stating the need will encourage you to seek out the means to fulfill the need in a way that makes sense for your peculiar circumstances.
Moreover, to apply this counterintuitive mindset more broadly to remote work, do not expect remote work to be like office work. I never will and never can be. It is comparing apples and oranges. If you are constantly comparing the two, it will weigh you down because remote work will come up short.
Let me be clear. I am not saying that there aren't strong cases to be made about the advantages of remote work compared to office work.
What I am saying is that the full force of the advantages of remote work will not blossom to an intense satisfaction until those advantages are appreciated as something entirely distinct from office work.
I do believe overcoming the negativity of around working remotely can be overturned by a mindset that appreciates remote work, not as a almost-like-in-person experience, but an experience with its own particular advantages.
But, so long as the advantages of remote work are constantly under the microscope of work with a social dynamic, I believe it as going up a creek without a paddle.
In conclusion, remote work cannot be office work. But, it can be something we learn to intensely enjoy. The key is to not expect more than it can offer, while not overlooking the unique advantages it surely offers.