well.

I am actually not looking forward to things being more open and “normal” again right now

– me, a week ago

My employer has announced that, since a majority of us are now fully vaccinated, the office will be reopening near the end of this month and we’re ending work-from-home.

Problems:

  • They didn’t actually ask who was vaccinated. The local vaccination rate is still hovering around 36%.
  • There were hints from managers that there would be discussion about continuing WFH indefinitely at least on a partial or voluntary basis. This discussion never happened.
  • Office reopening is not even the norm yet, with only about 28% of offices in the US having opened. Many remote employees said in a poll they would consider quitting if they couldn’t keep WFM.

There are no problems with WFH, and the development team prefers it. We literally just hired a developer who lives out of state anyway. Our product manager and our head of QA live on two other continents. It works! In the past year we released our most ambitious major version and an update to it. We are well organized and communicate very effectively online.

I’m thinking the only reason we’re going back is that mechanical engineers, particularly older ones, tend to be very conservative and traditionalist (not just in a political sense but in all things) and they want a return to “normal.” And probably the boss is a much more social person than anyone on the development team and just misses being around people and assumes we feel the same way.

But, all this said:

I’m going to try to make the most of it. The feeling that it weird and dangerous to be around other people is going to eventually pass (I hope) — honestly I think it’s less about personal COVID fear now, and more a matter of convenience and comfort and efficiency, and the frustration that it’s not necessary to be in the office.

My commute is really not far at all. The money I saved with WFH was mostly in breakfast and lunch, and I can continue saving that money. And I did honestly miss the availability of a much better environment for walking during breaks (a big, mostly flat space outside in good weather, and laps around the air conditioned atrium in hot/cold/wet weather) and it’ll be good to get more exercise just from moving around a bit.

Perhaps I will be able to negotiate partial WFH after things settle down.


One thing I need to figure out is music at work. I used to maintain a music library at work on a thumb drive and update it via cloud storage. That was kind of a hassle and things were pretty far out of sync generally. Part of the problem is, I might acquire new music either at home or at work, and I might decide to prune my collection in either place.

Shortly after WFH began — when we all assumed it was going to just be a few weeks — I set up a Plex media server, which I could theoretically use on my phone and at work to listen to my MP3 library at home. In practice, it meant occasionally losing connection even at home, a substandard phone app, and possible security issues. So I killed that, and switched to SyncTrayzor/SyncThing to automatically keep my phone synced to my media library. That’s worked beautifully.

  • I could install SyncTrayzor at work too and sync it from the phone, but that makes the setup on the phone side more complex and probably violates cybersecurity policy.
  • USB stick, either treating my home collection as “master” or the stick itself as master. The former requires a little discipline to keep things in sync; the latter requires not losing the stick or forgetting it, and also making sure to make backups just in case.
  • I could just listen to music directly from my phone. This is good for security and doesn’t add any more library management (except, again, buying music at work is an issue). It does mean I’d need a headphone mixer to use both the phone and computer audio.
  • Go back to some kind of media server, or cloud storage. My MP3 library is currently > 75GB; I’m gradually culling it but also still gradually adding to it.

[UPDATE] I bought a 128GB stick on eBay that comes with encryption software. But then I also signed up for Icedrive, which (like Dropbox/Box.net) can mount like a hard drive in Windows but supports stronger encryption, and is cheap at (much larger than) the level of storage that I need. That should do it.

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