Welcome to the Fake Office Commute (Turns Out People Miss the Routine)

For more than a decade, Holly Hein rode the #10 bus 45 minutes to her administrative job at Portland State University in Oregon. She would plop onto her usual spot at the back of the bus and “space out” with a book. At close of business, she would repeat the ritual in reverse.

When the pandemic struck in March, Ms. Hein felt grateful to be able to do her job remotely from home. But in time, something seemed off. “It was just a wrong feeling,” she said.

She doesn’t miss the hassle of commuting, exactly, but yearns for the clear dividing line in her weekdays.

“There needs to be a contrast,” she said, “to set off ‘home Holly’ from ‘work Holly.’ ”

Ms. Hein embraced a strategy to power through the remaining months of working from home: the pretend commute.

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