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Working from Home

April 18, 2020

Filed under: life — Terry Wohlers @ 15:53

Prior to COVID-19, 5.2% of working Americans (8 million) called home their place of work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, estimates that 25-30% of the workforce will be working from home by the end of 2021. That is 38–46 million Americans. I believe many will like it a lot, but others may have a difficult time adjusting to it. I have had many years of practice, so I will try to pass along some suggestions. Depending on your specific situation, such as the number of people and rooms in your home, my words may or may not be helpful.

Many years ago, we had a new home built with a reasonably large garden-level office dedicated to Wohlers Associates. I remember designing the space using 3D CAD so that I could see how the custom desks, chairs, and work tables would fit with the windows, lighting, and other surroundings. With adjacent storage and work rooms, good music, and an abundance of outlets and power, the space has worked very well for up to four people. At this point in my life, I cannot imagine working anywhere else, except for airports, planes, and hotel rooms.

I especially like the extreme flexibility that comes with working from home. I can start at 4:30 or 7:30 in the morning. The commute is short. I pass by the Keurig coffee maker for a rich cup of java, and two minutes later, I am in the office getting things done. It is important to have good computers, large screens, reliable internet, and solid phone services. Professional IT support and security are also vital. A quality webcam is worth its weight in gold, especially now. If possible, find a place that is private and quiet, and make it your office “away from home.”

One of the best investments I made years ago was a sit-stand workstation from Ergotron. Previously, I viewed a quality chair as being the most critical, but I rarely use it now because I stand most of the day. Fitness experts claim it is good for the body, and it burns calories. Some days, my legs become a little tired, so I can sit in literally seconds. A few seconds later, I can be standing and working. Moving up and down is incredibly fast and simple. If you buy one, get a work tray, which is positioned just below the monitor and above the keyboard. It is where my mobile phone, coffee cup, and other odds ‘n ends rest.

Our daughter, Heather, is a PA and now working from home. She sees 12-20 patients daily using Zoom. Many have COVID-19. She likes wearing more comfortable clothing and having extra time in the day without a commute. At lunch time, she can walk, work, or nap. She said the Zoom appointments with patients are focused and some people are more open and candid. The downside, she said, is that she moves less and misses the in-office interaction.

If you are working from home, do your best to make the most of it and enjoy the perks it offers. If you can, find a place that is mostly off limits to others. Take frequent breaks and take full advantage of the freedom. I could not imagine driving to work. I can get so much done working from our home office, and I am sure you can too with the right setup.