I wasn’t there, but I’m pretty certain when the principals of my kids’ school announced that school would be closed for a while, they cheered. Now a month into the school closures, they don’t appear to be too happy. They miss their friends and their routine though I’m sure they don’t miss the homework. About two weeks later, we got a “shelter in place” order which meant I had to stay home as well too and I wasn’t happy at all. I mean, I love my kids, but I also love working AT Puget Systems. I want to be as productive as possible, but with the kids at home, the distractions ramp up.
However, before we get into that, you’re probably wondering what I do. I’m the Consultant Manager here at Puget Systems. I’ve got 5 other excellent Technology Consultants on the team and it’s our job to make sure you get the right configuration for your needs. I really enjoy talking to clients and finding out some of the cool stuff that they are doing. Usually, they are calling or emailing us with a problem they are having or a process they want to speed up. We listen. We advise. Finally, we come up with a setup that is tailored to their needs. The best part of the job is when we get confirmation that the system solves the issues they were having or increases their productivity. That’s what excites me the most and it never gets old.
My Home Setup
Before we get into my home setup, I wanted to show you my work setup. Mostly because my work setup is much nicer and cleaner than my home setup. It’s got dual 4K monitor setup with basically our Serenity system and a wireless Logitech keyboard and mice. I also use a Plantronics wireless headset to handle phone calls. The desk is an electronic sit or stand desk. It's a really nice office because I can just close the door and get to working.
Now contrast it to my home office and well, it’s not quite the same. I could have cleaned it up a bit and made it nicer looking, but I also wanted to show that WFH for me is a bit more chaotic. We are using one of the “current” spare bedrooms as my office. For whatever reason it can get hot in that room especially during the summer time. This requires me to open the window which I like the fresh air, but I also have seasonal allergies.
- 14 inch laptop. It’s a bit dated now, but still gets the job done.
- Logitech M510 mouse
- Plantronics Audio 478 USB Stereo Headset
- Brothers HL-1240 laser printer
- Epson Perfection V19
My Challenges & Advice
I’ve always been afforded at least one WFH day a week in my tech career, so I’m no stranger to it. When the kids were not school aged, my wife used the day to get out of the house, do the grocery shopping, or run other errands. I always dreaded getting on a client call because one of the kids would enter the room even if the door was closed. They are much older now and understand that “daddy is working” and if they open the door, I can waive them off and they will know I’m busy. Still they will constantly ask for things throughout the day. So the biggest issue is the constant interruptions. Here’s how I try to stay productive:
- Just realize that there will be some lost productivity. And that it’s OK. Being able to see my kids is a blessing. I don’t take that for granted, so if that means I have to work a little extra hours just to get stuff done because I’m interrupted, it’s a worthy tradeoff.
- Have a laptop. If I need to feed the kids, I just bring the laptop with me. I can’t take a client call but I can still check email, reply to email, check my slack, etc… In other words, I can stay in communication with my team, workplace, and clients.
- Decide what you want to accomplish for the day. I usually have one main task I want to complete by the end of the day. I might end up sprinkling in some little task if I have the time. Kind of like playing an RPG game with the main story and all those side quests. It helps though to organize yourself like that.
- Prep your kids for the day. This assumes you have kids. My wife and I have been trying to do ongoing learning with the kids at home so we have them do worksheets, online assignments, and reading. That keeps them on a routine and busy.
- Go outside every once in a while. Take your kids with you. This is mostly for peace of mind. Both you and the kids need some fresh air after being in the house for so long. It’s fine to go for a walk or play outside for a bit as long as you are still maintaining your social distancing
It’s a strange time that we are living in, but I also want to do my part in flattening the curve. So if that means a little inconvenience, that’s fine. It's not ideal to have to be home all the time, but I also understand social responsibility. Hopefully, if anything else, the kids will learn that as well too. If not, I’ve got some great stories to tell my future grandchildren.