October 7, 2021

Destination: Home Office

Over a dozen years ago, I wrote a bunch of articles for a national Canadian newspaper publication. I stumbled on my notes recently and one of the pieces rang true with regards to the current state of affairs. With the onslaught of Covid-19 over 18 months ago, many (most?) of us had to re-adjust our working environment and many (most?) have remained in that scenario. 

Companies had to set people up in order to work from home while employees had to adjust with the fact that family life and work life were potentially forever merged. This article was about the home office. 

Why do we work? 

To sustain a lifestyle, feed our children, save for the future, go on vacation, and buy some toys? A lot has been written about the reasons why we get up in the morning and some feel it falls in to three categories (and I agree); to make money, to make a name for ourselves, or to make a difference.

We are fortunate to live in a time and place where we can make choices and enjoy a high standard of living – no matter what our profession. For decades, the model has been spaces featuring people in offices or cubicles toiling at desks on computers for eight hours each day. 

If you are currently working at home, either by choice or because of the pandemic, and seriously thinking of asking to do it full time from now on, there are rudimentary issues you must keep in mind. When setting up a home office, your headspace is as important as your workspace.   

Dress Code: If you get up each morning, shower, and get ready for work, you will be in a better place to stay focused. Surfing on your iPhone while in sweat pants may limit your ability to stay on track. 

Technology: With personal digital assistants, video conferencing, email, and smartphones, we have the capacity to transform and redesign our vocational surroundings. Work can literally be done anywhere. However, frequently updating your Facebook status may limit your career growth. Oh and please remember to wear pants for any Zoom calls! 

Research: If you don’t need a video capabilities for your work, it’s best not turn any on while you are working in your home office. The temptation will be too great to “take breaks”. Watching hours of cat videos on YouTube does not count as research. 

Refreshments: I can’t speak for you, but my home office is usually overflowing with the aroma of coffee while I’m sifting through the morning emails. But you have to be very careful! The refrigerator can be your enemy. It’s best to insure that the office-to-fridge excursion is difficult to navigate. Keep the two as far apart as humanly possible. Having eighteen snacks a day in lieu of getting the report done will hinder productivity. 

Collaboration: Limit your time commiserating with other home office colleagues. How ever tempting, thinly disguised daily business meetings with friends at coffee shops will divert potential success – for both parties. 

Planning: The Internet is not a toy. Researching what you will buy when you’re rich before you get your actual work done will catch up with you.

Meetings: Full conversations out loud to yourself whilst alone are permitted; that counts as a staff meeting. Beer alone at Noon is not a working lunch. 

Assistants: If you have pets, resist the temptation of feeling bad every time you get a coffee refill and the dog thinks it’s time to play. Please remember that cohabitating with a canine would not be fun in your car while you look for another job.

Focus: It is important to build in rules and creature comforts to your working space within your living space. So take breaks, be comfortable, but don’t expect miracles to happen if your 3pm meeting each day is with Netflix. Working at home can be extremely gratifying, but it is still work. 

If you can create an office space within your home space which cohabitates with your mind space, you may never want to be stuffed into a cubicle again.

Good luck!

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