Home TravelCorona Lockdown and home office – look on the bright side of life

Lockdown and home office – look on the bright side of life

by Flitter Fever
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A lockdown in the battle against the pandemic. It’s a tough measure, something that in my country has been done before, at least not in my generation. Just a few more weeks and I’ve been working from home full-time for a year. Obviously there are downsides to such a lockdown, but I have to be honest; I don’t mind at all. Of course I sometimes get fed up with it. And I miss traveling a lot. But I can certainly see the benefits of this lockdown too. In this article I will tell you all about it.

Home office is not a punishment to me
Home office is not a punishment to me (photo credits Arnel Hasanovic)

In perspective

Of course I realize that the pros and cons of a lockdown are very personal. These are strongly related to the situation you in. For example, I have no children and my income does not depend on my own business. There is certainly a lot of luck in answering the question what this lockdown means to someone.

And you might even think: “As a risk-averse wage slave, it’s easy for you to say”. And yet I believe: no matter how difficult this lockdown is, it is still partly a matter of mindset and that is up to you. How do you deal with the things that happen in your life? Is the glass half full, or half empty? This is my personal lockdown story. I like to look at life from the bright side, however it may go.

That does not mean that I never have a moody day or a slump. But there are already plenty of negative and depressing reports in the daily news and on social media. We can all keep saying it’s so awful, wallowing in self-pity, but that doesn’t make anyone happier, does it?

Home office = great!

It may not be for everyone, but I actually like working from home. Before the Corona crisis, I already worked at home two days a week on average. Those were the days when I could finally be productive and get things done. Ideal! Well, I have asthma and hay fever, so lockdown or not, I should have been at home almost all year anyway because of possible COVID-19 related symptoms… With that sniffling, sneezing and coughing, obviously no one wants to sit near me.

In the office I get constantly distracted. I have really sweet, nice colleagues. But I just quickly get annoyed by sounds and smells from others, which makes it hard to concentrate at all. I just have (a relatively light form of) misophonia. For instance the eternal battle with colleagues over the radio. At home it’s no issue, I can work the way I like it, peacefully. Fortunately, we have a relatively spacious house where we both have our own office space and we do not have to be in each other’s pockets all the time.

Moreover, there are always temptations at the office. There is always someone’s birthday, treating cake or some sort of sweets. Easter eggs. Christmas cookies. Not so good for my diet. Not that we don’t have anything tasty in the cupboard at home. But I often don’t have time for that anyway. I am often so busy and concentrated that I don’t have time to think about candy haha ​​Oh well, because I now cycle much less and I can no longer go to the gym, those COVID-19 kilos are present anyway.

Radio in the office can be a source of debate
Radio in the office can be a source of debate (photo Manfred Richter)

Home office allowance

I know this might sound crazy for people from outside of Europe. In The Netherlands, if you are lucky, during the COVID lockdown you may receive a home office allowance from your employer. After all, the costs for your tea, coffee, toilet paper, printing paper, heating, etc. that you normally use at work are now spent at home. These benefits varies greatly from one employer to another. Some employers pay nothing at all, others even up to EUR 500 per month!

According to the Working Conditions Act in The Netherlands (ARBO-wet), employers are obliged to provide a good workplace to the employee, as a result a number of employers offer their employees the opportunity of getting a screen, keyboard and sometimes even an office chair to work from home properly. It’s definitely worth asking for if you have a Dutch employer. For example, my friend moved from the dining table to an upstairs room we had left, where he has now – with the help of his employer – created his own comfortable home office. It also saves back and neck issues.

More flexibility

Previously, when I wanted to have something delivered to my home or a professional had to come over to fix something in the house, I would make sure that this was scheduled on a day that I would work home office. Now that I work from home every day, planning things like that got a lot easier. Just like having groceries delivered to your home, for example.

When we hired a painter to paint the exterior of our house last year, no need to puzzle who could be home to give the painters access to the house. We were at home anyway and could serve the painters a fresh cup of coffee too. And do some laundry in between meetings and other work stuff, no problem.

I mostly work during regular office hours (and beyond). That is the most practical, because then other colleagues, suppliers, etc. are available too. But I also hear quite a lot of people who, now that they work from home so much, experience a lot more freedom and flexibility in terms of time schedule than when they worked at the office. It’s easier to do something in between when needed. Quite practicak. Although I often do not even take the time to go for a walk during the day. But yeah, time is a priority, right?

Just doing some laundry in between is easy when working from home during a lockdown
Doing some laundry in between the meetings… (photo credits Dan Gold)

No traffic jams or other nonsense

My current office is less than half an hour by bike from our house, so no complaints at all. But my employer is moving; our new office is located in Amsterdam. That will cost me at least twice more travel time. Besides, normally we had a meeting or an event somewhere in the middle of the country about twice a month. Or I went on a customer visit together with an account manager. I always liked those field trips, but I don’t miss those miserable traffic jams!

When I end up at a somewhat windy trainstation in Amstrdam, I will remember the lockdown home office days with nostalgia…

Now I work for a company that amon other things makes vaccines, so fortunately no antivaxxers as colleagues. But what if you do have a team member that is, or multiple. Bad luck. After all, we are already bombarded with it on the news and social media. Fortunately, it is only a small minority who think so negatively about it. But in this period it has become clear that there is a group of people who turn out to be anti-government, anti-vaccine and/or beliefs in conspiracy theories. What if you share an office with such a colleague all day?

Sweat pants

What I personally think is a big advantage of working from home is that you can sit behind your laptop in your sweatpants. No suit or neat skirt with blouse – just put on those sweatpants or leggings again and login. You don’t necessarily have to shower every day, right? Apply a bit of mascara and comb through the hair for when the webcam needs to be used during a meeting, but not too much efforts. Saves a lot of time, laundry, water… better for the environment and my stress level.

And who still buys new clothes these days? The only thing I bought new during this period of time is a new sweatpants LOL There are no fancy parties to show off that new dress anyway. Too bad for the clothing stores, of course, but what can you do? We do regularly order some food delivered to the house and so on, so we do support the local entrepreneurs a bit.

Sleep in like a cat during this lockdown
I love sleeping in… (photo credits Erik-Jan Leusink)

From an early age I have loved sleeping in. Although I am not always able to do that anymore. But yes, why would you still set your alarm at 6:30 am if you don’t have to start until around 8:30 am? Now that the sun rises earlier again, I don’t mind getting out of bed around 7:30 am or so and start working on time. But if we feel like running a Friends marathon until midnight, that’s possible too. I personally like that flexibility a lot, especially in winter.

Saving

I was just talking about not buying clothes anymore. Well, I wasn’t an shopaholic in that area anyway, but it does save money anyway. No more eating out, no concerts, no theater performances, no cinema… Yes it is not really fun and I certainly miss it, but not being able to do that due to the lockdown does save a lot of money, which is okay for me temporarily. Then we will appreciate it all a bit more later on. Because how good we had it, the sky was the limit. My father keeps telling me that he never went on vacation with his parents when he was growing up.

And then I have not even mentioned the not being able to travel thing, because that is undoubtedly – in addition to fixed costs and groceries – where in my case most of the money normally goes to. Now theoretically you could always decide to travel a little less or not at all to save money.

At the beginning of 2020 I was also thinking of that, to slow down a bit in terms of travel. After all, I still have so many experiences to write about, I am always hopelessly behind scheduele. So now I can catch up on writing during the lockdown. And in the meantime, the savings account is growing. Sounds like a pretty good idea right?

One goes (almost) bankrupt, the other is loading the savings account...
One goes (almost) bankrupt, the other is loading the savings account…

FOMO

For a travel addict and hopeless case of FOMO it is easier said than done to “just” decide to travel less. And to stick to the plan. Do you know the cartoon Finding Nemo, and then Dory , the blue girlfriend of clownfish Nemo? Well, that’s how I am with “pretty good ideas” to travel less. As soon as a travel program or an article comes by about a certain destination, I am already looking for the cheapest flight. Because it was all possible, basically every month I travelled somewhere.

FOMO abbreviation of Fear Of Missing Out – a feeling of worry that an interesting or exciting event is happening somewhere else, often aroused by posts seen on social media.

Oxford Dictionary

So during the lockdown I do not suffer from that FOMO. Because almost no-one can travel right now. Now I can (ahem) finish my to-do list in peace and quiet and write travel articles that have been waiting to be processed for a while. I do miss the traveling, the adventure and the experiences. But now we regularly go away for a weekend in The Netherlands and I am also quite satisfied. There is still a lot to enjoy.

Moreover, I can imagine that the lockdown, for example, for people with a burn out or pregnant women among us can also experience the lockdown in a positive way. Less the feeling that the world is turning around without you? Those parties, drinks, festivals, trips far far away, etc. are all cancelled anyway. The rest of us is also staying at home.

Staycation

We already liked going away for weekends in The Netherlands, especially to the Drenthe province actually. But often I postponed planning Dutch destinations because I always prioritized going abroad. Traveling to the sun, other cultures. In 2020 we all started to appreciate the staycation a bit more I think. The Netherlands is also beautiful. There is so much to do and see, like visiting Dutch vineyards for example. That also makes me so happy!

And then we are not even talking about the packaging thing. I hate it. Especially in recent years I have been trying to travel lighter. Don’t feel like dragging too much stuff around and having to pay extra and wait for checked baggage. The great thing about a staycation in The Netherlands is that you simply take the car and drive, so therefore you don’t have to think too much about what you can/cannot take with you. Just fill up that trunk, grab your hiking boots and go!

Not having to check in, not waiting in line to board the plane… it has advantages of course. My boyfriend especially likes it, at least it saves him a lot of stress. I personally long for those words “This is your Captain speaking”. But hey, I see the benefits of the staycation too. We cannot complain here in The Netherlands .

In Colombia for example, my web developer Sabine was not even allowed to leave her village for five months because of the COVID-19 measures there, and no one complained.

And I must say, even though this may sound hypocritical from a frequent traveler like me, it is secretly also very nice that now so few planes ascend and descend fly above our house. A disadvantage of living less than half an hour’s drive from Amsterdam Schiphol airport. The noise nuisance has become increasingly worse in recent years and now it is wonderfully quiet. The other side of the coin. I know this won’t last forever so we just enjoy the quietness as long as it lasts.

Visiting Wijndomein De Koen in Zuid Scharwoude, North Holland
Visiting Wijndomein De Koen in Zuid Scharwoude, North Holland

Empty social agenda

Appointments with friends, dinners, concert, three already booked trips, birthday party, course for my job, hairdresser, pedicure … When COVID-19 arrived in The Netherlands in mid-March 2020, a lot of activities and appointments had to be canceled. It may sound strange, but somehow it was also liberating to clear the agenda, at least my spare time. We always had something every weekend. And often much more than that. Maybe too much?

I skipped most children’s birthday parties already anyway, but now you finally have a good excuse if you don’t feel like social obligations (cough). And how refreshing was it to finally be able to have a decent conversation with the people you actually come for on a birthday? Because suddenly you were only allowed to drop by with the two of you at the same time due to the COVID measures. Fine with me! And the curfew we have (21:00-04:30h) is not a problem for me at all, actually, I like the quietness of the street, it reminds me of my childhood. Although on the other hand of course a good party is also fun once and awhile… Just no more birthdays where people sit in a big circle trying to make a conversation please. Typical Dutch.

Sad looking Basset Hound
Not everyone is happy with this lockdown… (photo credits Doris Metternich)

What is possible?

Well, because that social agenda is so empty, people spontaneously start gardening, working on some maintenance jobs for the house, finally refurbishing that camper, making a photo album, translating a website (me), finally reading that book… Think in terms of opportunities, what is still possible? Funny to see that the sales of board games, for example, is also booming. Dutch cosiness at its best, I like it. More fun than standing in line at the landfill because everyone is cleaning up their mess… Or at the car wash.

Recently I started an online wine course, super fun and interesting! And I have planted all kinds of flower bulbs in the garden. I wanted to do that for years but I never made time for it. Now I am home all the time anyway, so why not?

And for the travel enthusiasts among us; this lockdown offers a sea of opportunity to research and prepare new trips down to the last detail. I know people who take the time now to prepare their future world trip, find out what they want to do and see. That is quite a lot of work and now you have the time for it, right?

It also gives something nice to look forward to, although we do not know when it is possible to travel again. And yes, if you want to practice to see what it would be like to be in each other’s pockets for a long time in a camper on the other side of the world, then the lockdown is of course an excellent test?!

Stay positive

Do you have trouble staying positive in this depressing time? Then try this tip from Claudia for a while. Write down 3 things every day that you are grateful for, possibly 3 things that you experienced as positive that day. Think of small things: a nice cup of coffee or tea, someone who smiles at you, someone who helps you without being asked to do so, someone who sends you a sweet message, a nice video that makes you laugh, the hug of a partner or a child. For example, I am very grateful for my job, however challenging it may be, and for my sweet boyfriend and friends.

I hope that this article helped you to see the positive side that I am experiencing during this lockdown. Despite how annoying it can be at times or for certain people in particular. Of course, this article does not do justice to all the disadvantages of this entire pandemic, I realize that very well. But as I said before, there is already enough negativity in this world, let’s look at the bright side of this situation and make the best out of it together. So that we can enjoy other things again later.

What do you think is an advantage of this lockdown situation for you? Do you like working home office? What are you grateful for or happy about? Please feel free to post a comment or question below.

In The Netherlands many people bought a new puppy or got one from the shelter. How is that in your country? In a way this is a positive and understandable development, only 1/3 of the people actually get themselves informed before getting a dog. I just hope that not a lot of those pets end up (back) in the shelter once this pandemic is over.

I wrote several articles about COVID-19. Want to read more on this topic? Check out the COVID-19 Blog Archives.

Read more articles about The Netherlands in the Netherlands Blog Archives.

Last Updated on 02/28/2021 by Flitter Fever

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