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It's Al's Turn column: Have you returned to your office yet?

The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.

The Echo Press office is bustling with activity again.

The shrouded silence and fog of the pandemic has lifted.

After more than a year of most employees working from home (including me), we are back at our desks – although some employees will still be working at home some of the time, as they requested.

The dramatic shift of our work routines inspired me to compare work at home with working in my office. Maybe other workers making the change can relate.

Ten things I liked about working from home:

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  1. I’m just 15 steps away from the fridge and a quick snack.

  2. Watching the rhythm of my neighborhood – walkers, bicyclists, park goers, the garbage haulers, the mail truck, any and all sorts of activity – I can see it all right out my window.

  3. When there’s a lull in the day, I can hop on my treadmill for a few minutes, which helps wear off all those snacks.

  4. Seeing wildlife – squirrels, rabbits, dogs, I even saw three deer in my backyard and I’m just a house outside the city limits. I don’t spend endless minutes just staring out the window but it can make for a nice mini-break every once and awhile.

  5. I thought I might miss not wearing a collared shirt, tie and dress shoes. I was mistaken. Jeans, short-sleeved shirts and zip-ups with “company gear” work nicely, thank you. So do slippers.

  6. I can focus better. There are no phones jingling everywhere or constant interruptions. The only sounds are my clicking keyboard or the furnace or air conditioner kicking in.

  7. Lunch is a lot easier. A can of soup, a sandwich, maybe some pretzels, fixed on the spot, and I’m good to go, typing with one hand, eating a sandwich with the other. I don’t have to drive home or somewhere else to get it.

  8. I’m one of the rare ones who doesn’t mind Zoom meetings.

  9. My coffee! I use one of those Nespresso machines. It beats the tar out of our office coffee, which tastes, well, kind of like tar.

  10. It’s comfortable. The phrase “Home Sweet Home” comes to mind.

Ten things I like about returning to the office:

  1. I’m no longer just 15 steps away from my fridge and a quick snack. (My calorie intake is finally plummeting.)

  2. I like my big office desk and storage. It beats the heck out of the spare bed I’ve been stacking everything on.

  3. It’s easier to call it a day. Just shut off the computer, flip the light off, get in the car and drive away. When I’m at home, it’s not such a clean break. All my stuff is just a room or two away, always beckoning.

  4. Helping customers. I still took calls from customers while working at home, of course, but I missed the face-to-face interaction. Oftentimes, those interactions or seeing a friendly face I hadn’t seen in a long time were day brighteners.

  5. The return of Echo Press Reader Advisory Board meetings. The casual, bi-monthly get-togethers, held in our conference room, were postponed for more than a year because of COVID-19. It will be fun and insightful to get together with the group again and get their feedback and ideas on how to improve their hometown paper.

  6. All of the office fun – potluck lunches, mini-celebrations, goofy contests, birthday treats, hearing bursts of laughter nearby (and checking out what the merriment is all about).

  7. Newsroom banter – spinning newsy ideas off of each other, talking about everything from global politics to what’s been happening on the scanner.

  8. Popcorn. Our popcorn machine in our break room was unplugged during COVID but it's making a comeback.

  9. Getting quick answers. Whenever I need to know something simple right away – a business owner’s name that’s on the tip of my tongue, the date something happened, contact information for someone I’m trying to track down – I can find the answer just a few steps away without leaving phone messages or emails.

  10. And finally my awesome co-workers. They’re fun. They’re creative. They’re helpful. They’re supportive. They’re talented. They know their stuff. I’m lucky to be able to work with such an amazing team – in the office or away.

“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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