Virtual Breakfast

Normally on a Saturday morning we'd hit the Cooks River Parkrun, and then go pick some cafe in the inner west to have breakfast. Today we had our regular PR crew (only 4 of us) jump on a virtual breakfast instead. Challenges of wrangling a toddler (me and my wife) and a baby (one of our friends) aside, it was really awesome.

I've been wondering a lot over the last few weeks why I haven't done any other video calls like this with friends. Today I actually stopped and thought about it a bit (as opposed to idly wondering).

I've been WFH for 3 weeks now. My team is based in Sydney and Palo Alto, so I do a lot of VC meetings in the course of my regular work. My 1:1s are all on VC. Daily standup, weekly scrum, design reviews: all VC. We also have a rule in the org that if conversations in chat are getting long/involved we spin up a call to hash it out "face to face".

On top of that, I'm hiring for my team, and I'm training to become a Bar Raiser, meaning I'm doing somewhere between 2-4 interviews per week, plus the attendant debrief sessions.

Long story long: I spend a lot of time on VC. My work day usually ends no more than 30-40 minutes before I need to go pick my kid up from daycare, and that time is notionally for exercise / self, but tends to be either sneaking in a few more work tasks, or doing dinner prep so we can continue to chase the ever elusive early dinner and bed combo.

So when it comes to having a VC chat over cocktails or board games or something else, I just can't really bring myself to go and fire up the same screen, the same app, and put on the same headset.

It's similar to the cabin fever that comes from extended WFH. I actually have no problem working from home on an intermittent basis - before the Pandemic I had actually set up Tuesday as my regular WFH day for focussed work - so I was a bit surprised at how much I was struggling mentally after a couple of weeks. But the challenge with WFH every day, combined with the "shelter in place" (one superficial area where I prefer the US terminology) directives is that there's no variation in environment. Work at home is fine. Weeknights at home is fine. Weekends at home is fine. Everything at home except going to a supermarket to fight over toilet paper makes Cass something something.

So what to do? I'm trying to draw more motes from the change of context, since there's no change in environment. I'm trying (with varied success) to draw a harder boundary around work time, to help enforce the context swap. And after today's delightful breakfast, I'm going to try to apply the same to VC with friends - it's NOT a work video conference, the same as seeing a friend face to face is not the same as a face to face interview.


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