I don’t write as much as I should here on the Puget Systems website but, with so many people being forced into working from home full time (myself included), I figured now would be as good a time as any to pick it back up and share what has and hasn’t worked in the transition to working from home. We’re all in this together and if there is any small part I can play in helping other people make the transition themselves, or at least make you feel better that I’m having the same issues too, I’m all in.
With that said, I should probably introduce myself. I’m the Marketing Manager here at Puget Systems. A little different from other companies and their marketing departments, my goal is to ensure that 1) we’re providing not just computer hardware, but solutions to problems and 2) that we’re continuing to find new and innovative ways to provide value to both our customers and the community. My days largely involve lots of emails, meetings, planning, and coordinating with people both internally and externally.
My Home Office Setup
You’ll probably notice in the picture that my desk is in our downstairs rec room.. not ideal. Under normal circumstances, I would have a dedicated room upstairs that would be my office. But not only do we currently have a “stay at home” order here in Washington, but about a month ago my chocolate labrador, Mowgli, tore his ACL and is recovering from the surgery. Because of this, he can’t go up and down stairs right now so I brought my office setup downstairs to hang out with him and take care of him while he’s healing. But, I’ll get into why this is actually a good thing in a little bit. But first, here is a picture of Mowgli after his surgery!
Now, on to the hardware.. Don’t tell the rest of the team here, but I’m completely in the Apple ecosystem. So if you are Apple and/or Mac adverse, I’d recommend you look away now! For most of what I do, I don’t need much in regard to horsepower. I’ll get into what software I use in a second but here is what I use in terms of hardware:
- 2019 1.4 GHz Quad-Core MacBook Pro with 8GB of RAM
- 28” 4K display (BenQ EL2870U) which acts as my primary monitor
- My iPad acts as a secondary display (using MacOS’ Sidecar feature)
- Apple keyboard
- Magic Mouse
- AirPods for calls
- I know.. I know.. I’m all in.
My Software Setup
Like most companies, we use a ton of different software packages but the ones I tend to use the most are all cloud based (hence not needing much horsepower on my local machine). We use:
- G Suite for email, calendars, docs, etc.
- Slack for internal communication
- Dialpad for calls (but more so Zoom for video calls now that we’re remote)
- HubSpot for our CRM / marketing automations and analytics
- Teamwork Projects for project management
- SEMRush for SEO analysis
- Google Analytics for website traffic analytics
- Magnet for MacOS to easily snap windows
- Sidecar to use my iPad as an additional display as I mentioned earlier
- Oh and the most important one.. Spotify.
My Challenges & Advice
I’ve been working from home full time for about three weeks now. Before that I only worked from home once a week on Fridays. My wife would go into the office on Fridays and I would watch my two year old daughter while also trying to work as much as possible. For some reason I thought that this extended period of working from home would just essentially be Friday every day, but I was very wrong. Working from home every day of the week was vastly different from the one day a week that I was used to. Here were some of the challenges I ran into:
- Trying to Work Anywhere. This was something I could get away with while I was just working from home one day a week. But it quickly became a problem as I tried to work from home for an extended period of time. Even though my wife and I clearly communicated to each other that I’m unavailable, it’s really hard to say no to your two year old daughter that is knocking on the door to play with you. That’s why I highly recommend, if you can, picking a space to work that is as far away from the rest of the family as possible. Which leads me to number two..
- Not Adding a Commute. Before working from home full time, I had a morning routine. Breakfast with the family, say goodbye to everyone, head downstairs through the garage and then off to the office. Then I started working from home and it was breakfast with the family and then down the hall to my office. There were some key signals to my family that I was going to be unavailable that were missing. This is where it has been nice that I moved my desk / office downstairs. I keep the same exact routine, I say goodbye to everyone and they see me go down the stairs. The only difference is for me. Instead of turning right to go out the garage, I turn left and go to my desk. This probably isn’t applicable for everyone but, having a two year old, this is really important.
- Fighting the Temptation. You might be thinking I’m talking about the temptation to also watch Netflix or play video games but no I’m talking about the temptation to let lines blur and have your schedule be “flexible”. It’s really easy to just say “oh well my desk is right over there and I could get these few things done really quick”. But this becomes a slippery slope to work dominating the work-life balance. Set a firm work schedule and stick to it. You’ll thank yourself for it and your family will too.
- Over Communicate. Not only are we all working remotely but many people, myself included at times, are mentally exhausted from being pulled in thousands of different directions both mentally and emotionally. It’s easier than ever for things to fall off your radar, be distracted or forget to check in on how others are doing. So I highly recommend, what will feel like, over communicating to people because it probably still won’t be enough to replace the normal day to day interactions you’d normally have. This goes beyond just your team at work, this goes for your family and friends as well.
- Find some good music! I mentioned Spotify earlier.. If you use it, I highly recommend the following playlist for some good work from home focus music.
In the scheme of things, especially with everything going on in the world right now, these are very privileged problems to have. There are plenty of people out there who are losing their jobs or are unable to work from home and I remind myself of that every day. I’m very lucky to be in a position and at a company that allows for these problems to even exist. But they are problems nonetheless and I hope this has helped in some way. Stay home, stay safe. I look forward to seeing everyone on the other side of this.
Also, please leave comments below if you have any tips or advice on adjusting to working from home. Or if you have any questions about anything I talked about above! The very least we can all do is help each other make all of this craziness a little less stressful.