Working from home – Are you coping?

How are you coping? Are you self-isolating or working from home?

First post here in about a year – because I was working full-time in a regular office gig as Editor-in-Chief of Sun News – the five Sun newspapers in Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton. My mandate there was to review, assess and then put in place a strategy to refresh the Sun brand across its all its markets. That done, I’m back to consulting – albeit from home now with the COVID-19 lockdown in effect.

In a future post, I’ll write more about my thoughts on the future of the newspaper industry – which I think does not have to be as bleak as many (including some of its own industry leaders) think it is.

For now, though, I’m left to ruminate over my return to working from home.

For a decade, I worked largely from home – building and leading a 10-person boutique consulting firm that was quite successful. I enjoyed it. And, I was able to prosper meeting clients in their offices, then working in my slippers in a full basement office set up. It was a large, fully-equipped office space with room for three full-time workers, but most often it was just me.

I liked the flexibility to walk downstairs, pull the door shut and dive into a project at 2 AM. Or 2 PM.

But, after a decade of doing this, I slowly lost the ability to work alone. Most likely, a lot of that change was due to deteriorating mental health – depression specifically.

Eventually, I realized that I was a mental vampire – I need to be around people so that I can feed off their vibrancy, sucking the life energy out of their presence. I’m sure there’s a less tawdry way to explain this. But, hey… my way is… colourful.

So, I moved into a shared executive office space which was great – there were a couple dozen other small businesses and owner-operators who had space there and I could wander the halls and feed off their energy. Then, close my office door and go to work. There was a reception facility, boardroom, coffee bar etc. But, it’s very expensive to work that way so the economics don’t work for everyone.

Now, I’m back on my own, save for my work on NEWSTALK1010 radio in Toronto – which remains a blast and the highlight of my week.

With the COVID-19 restrictions in place, working alone is a must for now. Options to find a new full-time regular gig are slim – who’s worried about hiring when the world is in solitary confinement?

At least the view from home is awesome.

The question for those of us living with mental health issues – in my case, depression and anxiety which are reasonably well manage with medicine and occasional therapy – is how do we manage when many of our normal management measures: exercise (gyms are closed), social interaction (restaurants, bars, coffee shops are closed and people are encouraged to avoid gatherings) and entertainment (movies, theatres, festivals, celebrations are shuttered) – are no longer available.

So, we’ll figure it out. Together – separately.

I’m going for a walk – alone – along the lakeshore.

What are you doing to cope? Share your story in the comments.