As we move past Thanksgiving and into the Holiday Season, the global pandemic continues to shape the new normal. As of today, it has become even more evident that we are beginning to embrace the idea that this new normal is here for the long haul. For many of us, that means that we need to acknowledge this idea that our home is no longer just our sanctuary. It is now also our Workplace, or at the very least, our primary office.
Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 56% of U.S. workers have jobs with companies that are partially compatible with working remotely and are extending their work from home policies to accommodate the current circumstance. Being that we are personally in that category, we have put together some ideas that foster work at home productivity and peace.
First: Some Basics
For most, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a desk and a good chair to help normalize your environment. Here is a helpful article to create an ergonomic space and best ensure you are comfortable. Also, ensuring that you have fast enough internet and a good router will help your days go smoother. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems as if our already high-end internet is stressed more often these days, and there is nothing more aggravating than freezing on Zoom calls or watching that loading wheel spin when clients depend on us.
If you haven’t done so already, maybe now is the time to think about the technology you have in your office. Do you have multiple monitors, a headset, a printer? Trying to mimic your office technology at home to make you as comfortable and productive as possible is a good idea, as it would appear that our work circumstances aren’t going to change anytime soon.
Create Work Boundaries
If working from home hadn’t been a part of your pre-pandemic life but is now, you’d probably do well to create and establish some work-at-home boundaries. If you have a room or an office in your home already, you are in good shape. But, if you don’t, here are some ideas that may help.
If you can, situate your desk toward a wall or close to a window to minimize distractions. You can mimic a cubicle’s feel by purchasing a desk with a tall hutch or even a portable accordion room divider to interrupt your line of sight. And, of course, it’s a good idea to let the rest of the household know when they shouldn’t disturb you.
Get Comfortable on Camera.
By now most of us have had the Zoom experience alternative in in-person meetings. For us, it also included “virtual” open houses or “walkthroughs” for our clients. But when we worked from home, we needed to make some adjustments before entering the Zoom calls and meetings. Even though we were already set up to work from home, we never had the face to face meetings with our clients remotely. As our home-work space now doubles as a bedroom rather than vice-versa, we wanted to make sure that our camera was not pointed toward the dresser. A few minor adjustments, and we were okay. However, some like to use the free Zoom backgrounds that you can find here. A couple of cautions, though. First, we noticed some of the backgrounds we have seen are pretty distracting. And second, it’s important to minimize leaning back in your chair, or you may disappear into whatever image you are projecting.
Get into a Routine
If we think about what we did in our old office days, many of us will recognize that we had a routine—maybe saying hello to our co-workers, putting our stuff down, or getting a cup of coffee. Obviously, the routine will change, but having one still seems to be necessary. For me, adhering to my to-do calendar and taking a true lunch break are probably the best examples that I can come up with to sustain my work environment routine.
Change of Scenery
While we wouldn’t recommend working from a couch all day, sometimes it’s good to spend a little bit of work time there or maybe even out on the patio. When I think about working out of a dedicated office away from home, it was a rare day in did that I didn’t move around a fair amount. Again, we can’t duplicate that exact experience, but we can recognize the little things that can keep us as productive as we would be there.
It appears that the pandemic is escalating once again, and while we wait on a vaccine, it seems we are in this for the long haul. It is also likely that there will be a new normal on the other side whenever this ultimately resolves. Many of us will continue to do more work from home than before, even after it is over, which brings me to my last point.
Interest rates are still low, and things have settled down a bit in the real estate market. It may be that now is the perfect time to move up into a home that can better accommodate your new normal of working from home. If you own a home, low inventory means you are in a seller’s market. But once you get to the buyer’s side, the selling season’s initial frenzy has quieted. If you are interested in finding out more about how this whole scenario might look for you, please give us a call. We would welcome the opportunity to help you evaluate your current situation.