Having the Option to Work From Home Can Benefit IPF Patients
Although the past two years have been traumatic and isolating, I believe some good things have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be hard to reframe our thoughts to focus on the positive, but if you’re like me, these years have allowed for many moments of deep self-reflection.
Since COVID-19 began, I’ve thought a lot about what’s important in life. More specifically, I’ve considered which pre-pandemic habits I want to keep or rid myself of. I’ve also tried and learned new things about myself as a result of the pandemic that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered.
Does that mean I’m glad COVID-19 occurred? Of course not, but I’m a glass-half-full type of person who’s trying to see the good as we learn to live with the virus that has ravaged our lives.
One thing I learned during the pandemic was how much I enjoy working from home. I remember when I was sent home in early March 2020, before the World Health Organization had officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. At the time, I looked forward to the flexibility of working from home; however, that excitement was short-lived. I began missing my colleagues and the social connection of working in an office deeply. I desperately wanted to return to in-person work, and this dissatisfaction lasted much longer than I anticipated. Eventually, I got into a groove at home that worked for me.
Fast forward to 2022, and I now enjoy working from home, as I’ve figured out a routine that allows me to be productive. Two weeks ago, I wrote a column about a new professional opportunity that landed in my lap, and today, I had an informal meet-and-greet with the new executive director of the agency. During our conversation, we talked about what my ideal work environment would be post-pandemic, and whether I’d prefer a hybrid model of working from home and in the office.
I’ve been giving this question a lot of thought. It would be hard to get to know a new organization virtually, but working from home greatly benefits me as a patient living with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). I’m immunocompromised due to this cruel and debilitating lung disease, which unfortunately makes me far more susceptible to illness. Being in an office during cold and flu season is very stressful, but working from home eliminates my potential exposure to germs.
I also appreciate the quiet of working at home because I’ve found myself easily overwhelmed by excessive stimulation since my diagnosis. Plus, IPF leaves me feeling fatigued in many ways, so it’s beneficial to be able to rest or take a short nap during my lunch break — something I wouldn’t be able to do while working in an office.
Lastly, I’ve written about my experience of unintentionally inhaling secondhand smoke, which has landed me in the hospital. While my workplaces have tried to proactively reduce this risk for me and any others who may be sensitive to secondhand smoke, it’s hard to completely eliminate it. Since it’s impossible to predict others’ behavior, working from home is the best way to avoid this exposure.
It sounds like many employers may implement a hybrid working model post-pandemic, and the more I think about it, the more I realize it is something good to emerge from COVID-19. Working from home, in my sector anyway, wasn’t openly embraced before. Many questioned whether it would be effective, but we’ve learned it can be.
I am grateful this employment option has emerged as a result of COVID-19, as the benefits are multifaceted for those of us living with IPF.
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.