Working from home may benefit patients with IPF

Although the past two years have been traumatic and isolating, I believe good things have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be difficult to reframe our thoughts to focus on the positive, but if you’re like me, these years have allowed for many moments of deep introspection.

Since the onset of COVID-19, I have thought a lot about what is important in life. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about pre-pandemic habits I want to keep or get rid of. I also tried and learned new things about myself as a result of the pandemic that I otherwise would not have considered.

Does that mean I’m glad COVID-19 happened? Of course not, but I’m a half-full type of person trying to see the good as we learn to live with the virus that has ravaged our lives.

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One thing I’ve learned during the pandemic is how much I love working from home. I remember when I was sent home in early March 2020, before the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. At the time, I looked forward to the flexibility of working from home; however, this excitement was short-lived. I began to miss my colleagues and the social bond of working in an office deeply. I desperately wanted to return to work in person, and this dissatisfaction lasted much longer than expected. Eventually I got into a home groove that worked for me.

Fast forward to 2022, and I now love working from home because I’ve found a routine that allows me to be productive. Two weeks ago I wrote a column about a new professional opportunity that came my way, and today I had an informal meeting with the agency’s new CEO. During our conversation, we discussed what my ideal post-pandemic work environment would be and whether I would prefer a hybrid work-from-home and office model.

I have thought a lot about this question. It would be hard to get to know a new organization virtually, but working from home benefits me greatly as a patient with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). I am immunocompromised due to this cruel and debilitating lung disease, which unfortunately makes me much more susceptible to disease. Being in an office during cold and flu season is very stressful, but working from home eliminates my potential exposure to germs.

I also enjoy the calm of working from home as I have found myself easily overwhelmed by over-stimulation since my diagnosis. Also, IVT tires me out in many ways, so it’s beneficial to be able to rest or take a short nap on my lunch break, which I couldn’t do while working in an office.

Finally, I wrote about my experience of involuntarily inhaling second-hand smoke, which landed me in the hospital. Although my workplaces have tried to proactively reduce this risk for me and anyone else who may be sensitive to second-hand smoke, it is difficult to completely eliminate it. Since it is impossible to predict the behavior of others, working from home is the best way to avoid this exposure.

It seems that many employers are implementing a hybrid work model after the pandemic, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s something good to come out of COVID-19. Working from home, in my industry anyway, was not openly accepted before. Many wondered if it would work, but we learned it could.

I am grateful that this employment option has emerged in the wake of COVID-19, as the benefits are manifold for those of us living with IVET.

To note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a disease news and information site. It does not provide medical advice, diagnostic, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnostic, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of anything you 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 relating to pulmonary fibrosis.

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