Monday, December 4, 2023

Three days in the office, two days working from home = perfect (for me anyway)

Back when I was in high school, the only reason you were ever home at 10 in the morning was if you were sick or if it was a holiday.

Then I had kids of my own, and as time went on I watched as they enjoyed the benefits of increasingly flexible school scheduling. It culminated with our youngest, Jack, spending far more of his senior year in his room than he did in a school building.

COVID was largely responsible for the shift in scheduling philosophies, of course. But I was still amazed at how late Jack would wake up some days and still be at school in plenty of time. He would drive to school, attend one class, and be back home less than an hour later.

When I was a lad many moons ago, I left for high school at 7:10 in the morning and it would be at least eight hours before my parents saw me again. Even longer if I had football or track practice.

Being at home in the middle of the day felt weird.

The same has been true for most of my working life. I came into the professional world in the early 90s, when we still worked in an office five days a week for 9 or 10 hours at a time and only came home sometime after 5pm.


Actually, I don't know that we "liked" it that way, but it was the only way we knew. Our parents had worked the same sort of schedule, so we figured it was just how things were.

Then along came the pandemic, and suddenly those of us in the white-collar world had options. For a period of time we only worked at home. Then, when the restrictions lifted, our employers started bringing us back to the office a day or two each week.

Now remote work is the norm. Or I should say "hybrid" work is the norm, with many (most?) professionals working some combination of days each week in the office and other days from home.

For those of us at Materion Corporation, our in-office days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Which of course leaves Monday and Friday as work-from-home days.

Again, maybe it's just the world in which I grew up, but I find this to be an almost unbelievable setup. On Mondays and Fridays, I can be productive working from my upstairs home office while having the flexibility of doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher, running a quick errand, etc.

Then I can see, interact, and generally bond with my co-workers in person during those mid-week in-office days.

Two days a week I'm home when "The Price Is Right" comes on and I don't even have the flu. That's mind-boggling for a card-carrying Gen X-er.

Having experienced so many five-days-in-the-office years, this balance of two days home and three in the office feels ideal to me. Some of my younger co-workers think the ratio should be flipped, or that we should be four days (or even fully) remote.

And maybe they're right. All I know is that Jack's wacky school schedule seems less and less bizarre to me as we get deeper into the Age of Remote Work.

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