SURRATT: Working from home is fine, but I’ll take the office

Published 8:00 am Friday, September 1, 2023

It was a trend that took hold during the COVID-19 pandemic and has become a hot-button issue in the business world.

I’m talking about people working from home.

Working from home became a necessity during the pandemic when fear over a rapidly spreading virus for which there was apparently no immediate cure forced people to change their work habits and overwhelmed hospitals.

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Out of concern (or fear), offices closed down and managers sent employees home with their laptops and files to get commerce going from the comfort of their own homes. Services like Skype and Zoom became popular alternatives for staff meetings to handle business planning.

And when the threat of the pandemic began to ease and managers anticipated having their staff back in the office, a strange phenomenon occurred: it turned out people liked working from home.

They liked the idea of avoiding that daily commute where they fought the traffic jams caused by people trying to get to the office on time. They liked, in some cases, setting their own hours.

So now there is a battle in some areas between employers and employees over where to work and the office is the battlefield. And the battle will rage for some time.

I’m working from home today because of what I guess you could call a medical condition. I really don’t like working from home. Unlike many, I don’t have a little nook where I can plug up my laptop and leave it on a desk. My desk is the kitchen table under an air conditioning vent that blows below-zero cold air. And the table is the location for many activities in the house, which means unplugging my machine and removing it only to put it back later.

When we had the ice storm in 2021, I lived at the kitchen table, which at the time looked into the living area and our TV, which was tuned to Turner Classic Movies, which was showing some great classic movies, forcing me to fight temptation and stay on the target of weather forecasts and infrastructure problems in the city.

I’m getting a little better at working at home, but it’s still a problem. Most people in this business who know me will tell you I’m an old-school journalist. I like the face-to-face interaction and the telephone interviews that allow me to probe an issue. That’s something I like to do in the office but feel reluctant at times to do at home.

Also, I miss taking my usual periodic break and walking over to our small conference room and to look out on the Mississippi River and the diversion canal to look at the cruise boats and watch the occasional towboat pass by with its barges.

I also miss the trips to city hall and the walk across the street to get something to drink or get lunch. I can see where working at home can have its advantages, but for work, I’ll take the office.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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