Adjusting to Working from Home – Kelly in Labs

Welcome to the team…

Working from home is really wearing on me and made me not like being at home. Now that I gave away the ending of this post, I’ll go back to the beginning. I’m the newest member of the Puget Labs team, specializing in 3d/Game Development with software such as 3ds Max, Maya, Unreal, etc. I also write a weekly blog giving a behind the scenes view of Labs.

…now go home.

That newness is the first hurdle I’ve faced with working from home. I started in Labs on February 10th, and the team decided to start working from home the first week of March. So I had only been in the position for three weeks, still very much in the learning phase of a new position. Labs is already a rather nebulous area. We know we need to test applications on different hardware, but how we do that is different for each application. Even when we are all in the office, a good portion of our responsibilities is to figure out how to do our job. Joining a team that already doesn’t have super clear guidelines, and then immediately being told to work from home is very much like being tossed into the deep end. Honestly, it's quite scary, but I take solace in the fact that my colleagues have confidence that I can handle it.

My home office setup

I’m also fortunate enough to have a very comfortable setup at home. My PC is about 2 years old. It has a i7-8700K, 32GB RAM, and a 1080 Ti. There is the standard set of peripherals including webcam and Yeti mic for conference calls, Wacom tablet, and an embarrassingly old keyboard.

The desk is the Ikea hack that seems to be everywhere these days. The monitors are mounted to the wall long arms that let me move them flat against the wall or over to one side if I need room for activities.

I finished this remodel in February. When I started, didn't realize how important it would be.

When home is no longer home

My home office is something I spent a lot of time getting set up last year. Which leads me to the next hurdle. You see, my home office is my sanctuary. It is where I would go after work to unwind. I don't watch much TV or movies, instead I go into my office and play games, or work on some art or craft project. All the decorating and upgrades I made in this space were to make a comfortable, relaxing area. The upside to this effort is that it is now a great place to work. Distractions are minimal, it is a converted attic space, so no one bothers me. I really don't think I could have asked for a better place to do work.

However, now that I’m working in that office, when I “clock out” I don’t want to be in there any more. After spending 8-9 hours sitting in front of a computer, I really don’t want to sit at that same computer for a couple more hours to unwind. For the first couple weeks, it wasn’t that big of a deal. But as time has gone on, it's gotten more and more difficult. I’m sure many of you are having a similar experience. It could be your home office, or your dining room table. Whatever area you have designated as a work space, still seems like “work” when you aren’t working. That room in your house that you once loved now brings tension. That feeling begins to take over. How does one “get away” when you can’t really leave your house?

For me, I’ve spent more time with my wife and dog, and taken up a new hobby. I designated an area in my office as a new crafting area. I can “get away” by moving a couple feet to my left and do an activity that takes me away from a screen. It almost feels like a mental reset button. It also lets me reclaim that room a bit so it isn’t completely consumed by work. This is all a mental battle that will impact everyone differently. It has been a big struggle to stay positive. I’ve had to put in a lot more effort to mentally separating “work” and “home”.

My methods of unwinding. Crafts and taking photos of my dog.

Work on not working

Not being able to separate work and home leads to a downward spiral. There has been a lot of talk about how to make sure you can successfully get your work done while at home, but not much about how to maintain your homelife. I strongly urge you all to find new ways to spend your time outside of work. Do something away from your computer. If you set aside an area in your house for work, set aside a space for play. This could be for crafting, it could be working on your yard, or working on your car, etc. Go into this activity with intention, The goal is to make sure your home isn’t just work, and then waiting to work the next day. Actively take steps to unwind and destress, and not let work consume your home.

I'm sure many of you have been having similar struggles. If so, please share what you are doing to cope in the comments below. I know hearing from others, and seeing what they are up to will make me, and many others, feel more connected in these times.