Many of us are now working from home for the “forseeable future,” although, as our Executive Director reminded the Network staff earlier this week, while much of the world was adjusting to the new realities of social isolation and virtual workspaces, for the North Carolina Writers’ Network, which has been a virtual workplace since 2008, it was just another (manic) Monday.
So, as seasoned veterans of the vocationally quarantined life, the Network is here for you.
The challenge of working from home is that work and home suddenly take place in the same location. Whereas before you went somewhere to work and then came home to cook, relax, do you hobbies, spend time with family, exercise, whatever, now all of that is taking place in the same, suddenly impossibly tiny, space.
Some of these activities go together more easily than others. Although being on a conference call while you run on the treadmill is great eye-candy in the movies, the reality is a bit messier. If you can, set aside a place to work, and shut the door when you’re finished.
“Move around to various chairs throughout the house so you don’t leave butt grooves in one place,” suggests NCWN Membership Coordinator Deonna Kelli Sayed.
Personal grooming is more important than you might think while working from home. Put your pants on each day. Some of the staff here wear shoes, even at home; the one hippie does not.
The point is, though, get dressed. You don’t want to be answering client e-mails in your pjs. Get dressed for work, put the uniform on, so to speak, because this gives your mind a physical clue that now it’s time to work.
“In the beginning, I took a walk around the block each morning,” says Charles Fiore, communications director of NCWN. “It was my ‘commute.’ A short walk helped me mentally switch environments from home to work, even though I was coming back to the same space that I’d just left.”
(Charles then wandered off into a corner to contemplate the many ways this act of walking far just to end up right back where he started might be a metaphor for everything in his life…)
Many of us will be navigating the wonderful intricacies of webcams seriously for the first time. While you may not care if your parents, who live in Sheboygan, see inside your messy living room during your weekly Skype session, you may care if your co-workers can see through your office door into your kitchen where you’ve got three days’ worth of dirty dishes stacked up.
Here’s a great article on managing your home environment for the inevitably professional intrusiveness of your webcam.
And while we’re at it, here’s a sadly necessary list of do’s and don’ts for online workplace etiquette. (Mute your microphone!)
The Network has been focusing on technology this year, so here’s a terrific round-up of work-from-home apps, passed along to us by former NCWN Board President and current Trustee, Margaret Dardess.
There are more nuances that you’ll pick up as time goes by, but you don’t need to master this work-from-home thing quite yet.
Try to remember to take a shower each day. Eat a little extra chocolate. Take it one day at a time.