I’m sure many of you reading this can relate to the mixed emotions I have experienced over the last year while working from home. Recently, I have been reflecting on the challenges and newfound opportunities that I have seen as the result of the abrupt change to my daily routine, which began last March.  Over the last year, working from home has been a roller coaster of ups and downs which has taught me many hidden lessons that only a global pandemic could push my way.

My morning routine has definitely slowed down. I have replaced the shirt and slacks with shorts and a tee-shirt. If it’s a game day, I make sure I am wearing my favorite soccer jersey (Go Burnley!). My morning 20-minute commute to my Bellevue office has been replaced by the systematic process of waking up, throwing on some clothes, walking to the bathroom, then to the kitchen to fix myself a cup of espresso, and then inevitably to my office where a day of video calls on Microsoft Teams occurs. I call this my “50-foot commute”.

 Today, I find myself struggling to put work away. I get caught by my wife taking calls in the evening and find myself messaging my co-workers late into the night. There is no longer a commute that forces me to press that “off” switch, and I often need to take time to remind myself that the work never really ends, and that I need to take a step back every day. It has always been hard for me to completely “turn off work” – I love my job as well as the people and clients I work with – but we all know how important separation is, and I often need rigid structure in my day that forces me to disconnect and unwind. I found out this need the hard way when I had my divine intervention last year.

There is no doubt in my mind that the best “perk” of working from home is how much time I have with my family. I have enjoyed more morning walks and cups of coffee with my wife as well as more conversations and outdoor time with my oldest son, Cam. I treasure the time I get to spend with my youngest son, Graham. Every morning at 10 AM, the entire office knows I am off-limits to do “math with Graham”. My wife and I spend an hour every day sitting down with Graham and working through math problems. With online school and working from home, my wife and I have had the rare opportunity to help our son, who has a few learning disabilities, solidify math and reading concepts.

Before the pandemic hit, it was a rare occasion for me to sit down and spend a solid hour working on schoolwork with my son. However, with working from home, and my office being just a floor away from my son’s room, I can easily step away and give Graham the important one-on-one time he needs with his education. He has improved on his math skills and my connection to him as a dad has grown even stronger. The mid-day walks with my wife have been a special time for the two of us to connect. We talk about the kids, work, life, dinner, and I get the chance to brag about my exquisite skill of picking the best cuts of beef at Costco – it doesn’t really matter what we discuss, it’s just nice to have the time together! Being with my family throughout the day is something I never want to give up as the pandemic eases, and we return to normal.

The Welty Family

We are beginning to gain an upper hand on the pandemic and may see another adjustment to our daily routines. The last thing I want to do as a leader of my team is to revert to the “old days”. I feel that this would be a huge waste. In the last year, our team has experienced the amazing benefit of spending time with our families, enjoying our homes, and frankly, slowing a bit down in life. However, we have missed the structure in our lives, and of course, have missed in-person interaction the most. There is simply no substitute for seeing and working with your team in the same room.

In all likelihood, Avier will be transitioning to a hybrid schedule. This way, our workweek can be filled with the best of both worlds. We will restore some of the structure we lost, regain the satisfaction of working in the same room again and meet face-to-face with clients once again. I will still be able to represent by wearing my Burnley jersey on gamedays, continue to work on math with Graham, and spend more time with my wife. We will combine the best of the past and the best of what has come from the last year of this chaotic pandemic. In many ways, we will be working to create the ultimate portfolio, where we take the best of all parts and craft something that will promote growth and convey benefits for everyone!

As I look back on this year, I see a lot of struggles that my team and I have had to endure. However, I also see the immense benefit this time has provided us all. We have learned so much and grown closer in a way I could not have imagined before the pandemic. As I look back on all that I have experienced with my family and our team, I feel extremely fortunate.