Having enjoyed the close company of co-workers for 25 years I was bewildered by the small things I was going to miss, such as the morning bus ride with other human soles, morning salutations with my colleagues, ordering a coffee at the Starbucks on arrival downtown, watching all the lovely young women briskly going about their business. It was in short damn lonely, I was missing the numerous and varied human interactions of every day life, they had simply gone, and I was left with – albeit a wonderful view of the North Shore mountains – but little else in the way of those daily human interactions, touch points with other warm blooded animated creatures engaged on so many levels.
The first week, was busy putting the virtual office in order, making the desk on which the computers, printers, scanner etc, would reside. Creating docket sheets in an attempt to stay organized. Getting used to the wonderful program David Lach had produced for the team administration. But it felt so unreal. Introspectively I began to ponder how and why we got here, working in our respective homes yet maintaining a semblance of an active busy office.
Second week: the office was ready for my frenzied and anticipated work load, frantic phone calls from clients, the interactive requirement of connecting with all my co-workers. Dealing with the same deadline requirements and rushing to deliver end-product to web servers and printers. Well the reality was anything but. I stood looking out from my fully equipped virtual office on the North Shore mountains and sighed that the phone wasn’t ringing, my email inbox carried the same old trash we all get, but no clients scrambling for my time. I made phone calls of course, only to be told “call back later ”, or we’ll call you. Email marketing attempts went predominantly unanswered and the daily pace in front of my suburban window started to take on the dull repetition that suburbs do. Old man with dog; 9:00 am, the lady with grandchildren walking to wherever they walk; 10.00 am, the neighbour across the street cutting his lawn, then the neighbour next to him doing the same.
12:00 pm; LUNCH! time. Ah yes the kitchen is just downstairs, I felt a little like one does when in hospital, meals tend to become the highlight of the experience. Well never mind I thought, it’s mid-summer, the weather is brilliant, I can sit in the garden with my personally prepared fare. No restaurant with the gregarious sounds of people, well dressed and not so well dressed busy people, fully engaged in chatter, eating and drinking. I shared my meal with the birds for company and a feeling in the pit of my stomach that no one was going to call, or email me, even facebook seemed devoid of any relieve from this increasing sense of loss and isolation.
Of course like all change, it takes an inordinate amount of time to adjust, but I do miss the real life interactions with people, they are the corner stone to our joint creative endeavours, they inspire, anger and engage us to perform, so I will visit the city more often and as a friend and writer pointed out to me recently, “you have to walk the streets to suck up the money”. I would add suck, inhale and liberally enjoy watching and interacting with my fellow humans. That’s what I miss whilst working virtually, but the phone is ringing again and the email inbox is producing an equal measure of real-work related messages, that perhaps being busy again will take my eyes off the North Shore mountains and the comings and goings of those regulars walking their dogs and children or cutting their lawns.
I actually wrote this post on the plane flying to England and looking forward to our anticipated trip to the Eastern Mediterranean, a promised gift from Jean – my wife and life partner – once the physical office was closed and the virtual alternative was up-and-running. Life is good and work did and continues to flow, but what an adjustment.