Notes from the lockdowns: thriving in social distancing

Today is the second time in over two months that I went to the office. I wish I could instead dial in but when you have to work with members from senior management, physical attendance is a must.

Unlike some of my peers, I have it easy during the lockdowns. A phone conversation with a couple of colleagues has revealed that they have been looking forward to the end of the lockdowns and social distancing, so they could be in the middle of the commotions of office life once again. I wish there was a way to tell them it was alright that everyone worked from home without potentially sounding offensive, as I have found myself thriving during the lockdowns. And now that we are reaching the end of social distancing, I can’t say that my introverted self is thrilled at the prospect of turning up at the workplace even when I have my own literal corner office which sits at the end of a hallway.

I am not a morning person, so getting up two hours early, dressing up, and on some days taking the hour-long commute to work don’t make my idea of starting the day right. I am no slouch in the “making oneself presentable” department, so even when I’m spending the day indoors, I still make it a point to shower and put on clean clothes in case I have to go to the shops or get a takeaway. Moreover, random Skype video calls means I have to dab on minimal makeup at least.

However, I much rather prefer the comforts of having my morning coffee whilst reading or watching the news before checking in. By the second cup, I am prepared to answer queries and requests that are sitting in my Inbox. There really is a strong case for hygge as the driving force behind Denmark’s reported satisfaction with life.

As a result of previously working in consulting and customer service, I have learned to start my workday addressing enquiries from colleagues and I agree that coordinating projects also means giving others the attention and at least a semblance of presence especially when you’re working remotely. Still, I am most productive later in the day. Work that requires more focus and minimal distraction are saved for afternoons and often late into the night when I can type away with the lights at the ground floor, which has become my home office these past two months, are switched off except for a solitary floor lamp that stands right next to my desk.

Source: Brooke Anderson

Apart from not being able to do weekend shopping in-store or travel farther than the vicinities of Perth metro area, I don’t feel I missed out on anything. Instead, social distancing afforded me the work-life balance that I’ve often craved, as afternoon walks and runs around nearby neighbourhoods and parks, spending more time with my husband and the cat, and knocking off to watch my favourite TV series are often the highlights of my day.

That’s not easy to manage when things are normal, and I hope that the world doesn’t frown upon the rest of us introverts who have found that maintaining physical distance from everyone else was actually working in our favour.

Lonelineness versus time alone

The coronavirus pandemic has arrived on the heels of what some describe as a “loneliness epidemic”, but these headlines may be overblown. Again, part of what is missing in such descriptions is the fact that clouds for some are silver linings for others. 

A counterpoint to the so-called loneliness epidemic is the study of “aloneliness”, the negative emotions many experience as a result of insufficient time spent alone. As Anthony Storr wrote in Solitude: A return to the self, “solitude can be as therapeutic as emotional support”, and the capacity to be alone is as much a form of emotional maturity as the capacity to form close attachments.

Source: Personalities that thrive in isolation and what we can all learn from time alone