Working From Home: Welcome To The New Normal

 

So  you’re working from home now. Welcome to the dark side. We have cookies!

As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forces tens of millions of employees home, people are being pushed unexpectedly (and uncomfortably) into a work environment that can be surprisingly rewarding once you get used to it.

I’ve been working remote from home at least part time for my entire adult life – over 10 years. For the past year and a half, I’ve been working a full time salaried position at a marketing agency from my home office. My workspace has taken a wide variety of shapes – from being curled up on my bed in what was basically a tiny home to currently having my own dedicated office in my 4-bedroom house with a standing desk and 4 monitors (see photo at the top of this post).

I know what works, and what doesn’t.

I’m currently quarantined in my home due to the fact that my entire household is experiencing flu-like symptoms. With no easily accessible testing available yet, I don’t know if I have COVID-19… it is just as likely that we have Flu A, according to my doctor. My instructions have been to stay home and stay isolated.

Fortunately, this doesn’t significantly affect me. This is already my life. Every morning, I wake up, walk down the hall to my office and work at my desk for 8-12 hours before clocking out for the day. It puts a damper on my social life, but that is a luxury that I can afford to go without for a while.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for most people. The majority of people are not prepared to work from home. This new reality is very disruptive to their (your) life, adding stress to an already unpleasant quarantine experience.

Since I am trapped at home and unable to volunteer in any other manner, I will be writing a series of blog articles designed to help people like you transition to a work-from-home lifestyle… and love it. There are many advantages to working from home, and many ways to reduce the impact of the disadvantages.

Without further ado, I am going to jump right in and talk briefly on 7 ways you can make working from home an enjoyable and productive experience. I will be fleshing out each of these points in more details in the coming days.

Please share this article with your friends and on social media to help all of us make this transition an easy one.  Please comment on this article with any questions you may have about working from home, and I will do my best to answer them directly and in my future posts.

How To Enjoy Working From Home:

  1. Create a dedicated workspace. This cannot be understated. It will 100% make the difference between you loving and hating working from home. Even if you enjoy noise and the people you are surrounded by, it will drain your productivity and cause added stress. If you don’t realize that now, you will soon. This does not have to involve an elaborate setup – it just means that you need a separate space where you can isolate yourself from outside sounds and interruptions.
  2. Invest in adequate equipment. You don’t need a $3,000 workstation, but you do need a computer that will allow you to work quickly and efficiently. The most important change you can make to your computer setup will be a second monitor, assuming you don’t already have one. This is one of those things that you won’t realize you need until after you’ve gotten it… and then you won’t understand how you ever existed without it. This is because, unlike an office environment, when working from home, you will need that second monitor to talk to other people. You will be using videoconferencing tools like Zoom, Skype, or Slack – and unless you have a second monitor, you won’t be able to do much else until those calls have concluded. You will be shocked at how much of a difference this makes to your workflow and overall productivity.
  3. Get high speed internet. Satellite internet or DSL will not work. Period. The latency is far too high and speed too low for any kind of video or audio call to work. If you live in the city, you’ll need a cable or fiber connection. If you live in a rural area, look online for a “Fixed Wireless Internet Provider” in your area. These companies are typically small local businesses that provide high speed residential internet in rural areas that is many times faster than satellite. They attach a dish to your roof just like a satellite connection, but it is connecting to a local tower within 10 miles of your house instead of a satellite in space 22,000 miles away. If you don’t know of any high speed providers in your area, try searching on www.broadbandnow.com. In a pinch, comment below with your zip code and I’ll try to find one for you myself (I work in this industry).
  4. Pro Tip: Don’t overpay for internet. In a crisis like this, a lot of internet companies are going to try to sell you expensive “Work from Home” plans that you don’t need. You do not need a 1000Mbps (“Gigabit”) connection. Unless you are uploading and downloading large files all day, you likely won’t notice a difference in any connection over 25Mbps – as long as it is a low latency connection (unlike satellite). Even if you download and upload a lot of files, you don’t really need anything over 50-100Mbps. If you can get unlimited data, go for it… but don’t waste money paying extra for a “high speed” connection that you don’t really need.
  5. Plug into your router. A common misconception is that a high-speed wireless connection is basically the same thing as a wired connection with today’s technology. This is not true. It doesn’t matter how fast or reliable your wireless connection is, you will notice a huge difference in the quality of your video and audio calls if you are able to plug your computer into your router directly. This reduces latency and packet loss, the two biggest causes of video/audio issues on calls. This isn’t always possible, and it isn’t absolutely necessary, but it will make a big difference.
  6. Dress to impress. How you dress has a huge impact on how you think, even if you don’t realize it. Don’t sit around in your PJ’s on your couch all day. Put on clothes just like you are going to work – including your shoes. Just trust me on this one. It will allow your brain to accept the transition and shift into a productive state of mind.
  7. Sit up. Don’t lounge around on your couch or bed. Grab a real chair and work at a desk or table. Not only is this good for your posture, but it will do wonders for your mood and productivity levels. Also, come back to work at the same spot every day. Like the point above, just trust me on this one. These are lessons I’ve had to learn myself through years of trial and error.

That’s all I have for now. I’m going to work on fleshing these out into individual articles soon, and I’ll also be writing on additional topics, including:

  • How to build a home workstation
  • How to create a professional background for your webcam
  • What software do you need to work from home?
  • What kind of computer do you need to work from home?
  • What specific peripherals (mice, webcams, etc) will help you be more productive working from home?
  • How to avoid/eliminate distractions
  • How to be productive
  • And more…

 

What would you like me to talk about? What questions do you have about working from home? Light up that comment section!

 

3 thoughts on “Working From Home: Welcome To The New Normal

  1. Hey Trey, thank you for the very useful info! Really looking forward to your next articles.

    One of my struggles on working from home is having social contact. It can feel quite lonely at times and even depressing (I’ve been doing this for the past 2 to 3 years).

    What do you do to keep you mental sanity and make sure you still have an enjoyable and fulfilling lifestyle?

    Thanks!

    Like

    1. Hi, Andrei!

      That is a question that everyone from home struggles with at some point. I’ve been there before. I’ve struggled with loneliness and depression from not seeing other humans for days.

      There are two keys to avoiding loneliness when working from home.

      1) Find reasons to talk to people online. Look for opportunities to do video chats with other people instead of just text and voice chats. Especially people you work with on a regular basis. You’ll be shocked at how much of a difference it makes in your own life – especially your self esteem. It also has the side effect of motivating you to be more active in how you dress and look, which helps your self esteem a lot too.
      2) Get out of your house. The last thing you need to be doing is spending all day at your computer. This will make you lonelier than anything else. For me, this was getting active in my church (if you don’t have one find one!). Attending isn’t enough (wasn’t for me at least) – volunteering is where I’ve found the most rewarding relationships. Unfortunately, this part is difficult right now. But if you are healthy and able to drive, there are still a lot of volunteer opportunities right now – especially taking food to the elderly. You’ll be shocked how much of an impact something like that makes on your own mood and outlook on life.

      Like

      1. That sounds like sound advice, thank you Trey! I’m pretty motivated to change something related to that so these insights definitely help.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.