It’s no secret that everything is a little crazy right now. The COVID-19 virus has everyone who can be working from home.
Here at Avant8, we were unexpectedly prepared for this. Under normal circumstances we have work-from-home-Wednesdays. The name is pretty self-explanatory. Our full-time employees can opt to work from home on Wednesdays. This initiative was originally created to show trust in the team, but also to throw a bone for those of us who have to commute from Utah County.
However, going from doing this only once a week to every day still requires some getting used to. To better understand that adjustment and how everyone is feeling about it, I asked the rest of our team to share their thoughts of their home office setups, what they’ve found works and what doesn’t. We also shared some pictures of our workspaces. The idea is to show that we’re all in this together, to reassure you that you aren’t the only one missing the office (and maybe you’ll get some home office ideas in the process).
Here’s what the Avant8 team had to say:
Tasha (Project Manager)
“This gaming table is big enough that my husband on the other side has his own space to work in. Behind me are a myriad of board games.
Since I was a kid my family loved playing board games for critical thinking, resource management, puzzle-solving, and those qualities followed me into adulthood. Sitting at my game table helps me get ready to sit down and get it done. This is the space I feel most productive, to think critically, to feel creative conduction, and allow my brain to run wild in working around the puzzles my work offers me as a Project Manager at a marketing company. I’m focused here and can be for hours. And… striking up a game of Dungeons and Dragons would be easy with my big box of D and D dice in the middle of the table.”
Brad (Project Manager)
“My desk is a plastic Costco desk ($99) good for family stuff as well, but currently my working desk. My home office is upstairs in our master bedroom, it is the quietest place in my house, has the most sunlight, and a lock on the door so my children can’t interrupt. I would love to have a second monitor, but that is just a want, not a need. I wouldn’t mind a mini-fridge to have my Monsters stored and accessible without leaving my desk.
I love not having a commute (even though I don’t really mind the drive), I love at times how quiet it is (except when my kids are here screaming bloody murder in the background). I enjoy having my stuff around me all the time (the comfort of my own home). My internet is great, I love that as well. I miss the social interaction that you get at work. I like being around people and feeding off their energy. I miss laughing as a group and joking around. I’ve gained a huge appreciation for my wife who takes care of my children every day and works on top of that. Blows my mind how she does it.”
Marla (Office Manager)
“My current situation is my living room couch. I had plans to clean out my office, but this surprise ‘quarantine’ halted that. I have to be near my children so that I can help with schoolwork. The past few weekends I have been trying to clean out a few boxes to make room for me at my desk. Things would be easier with my second monitor and peace and quiet… but I have a 6 and 4-year-old. I have made structured time for schoolwork and free time, they also know that when my headphones are on, they are silent and do not bug me unless it’s an emergency, such as another earthquake or fire and/or blood. Since I am not really needed to sit at my computer all the time, I get up and make lunch and snacks, homeschool my 6-year-old and stretch and walk up and down my stairs, so my bum does not go numb.”
Jordan (Web Developer)
“I have a separate room that has my office desk. My wife’s arts and crafts are all around the space I’m not occupying. Things that could be improved are curtains to go alongside the blinds, so I don’t get glare when I’m working. Aside from that, sometimes I wish I had speakers set up, so I don’t have to wear a headset all the time if I want to listen to music.”
Hamza (Web Developer)
“I’m really fond of a clean desk and do everything I can to keep it well-maintained on a day-to-day basis while still giving it features to feel like it’s my workstation. Feels more personal and I have more of an attachment to the set-up I use regularly at home through it.
“A trick (if you can really call it that) that I’ve found works well for me is generally just never breaking routine. Shower, change into clothes that you’d wear into the office, etc. It might not be that way for everyone that way but personally, it convinces me that it’s time for work.
“I work right from my bedroom since I don’t have another room to set-up specifically for work. It works pretty perfectly for me and I tend to find myself being surprisingly more productive at times since I’m also used to studying at my home workstation.”
“My home workspace is minimal. My little Ikea desk is right below a window, so I get some natural light, even on these grey days.
“My desk is in the corner of my apartment. I don’t have a way to connect my laptop to a larger monitor.
“I like that I can dress comfortable and lazy, and I can wrap up in a blanket. Though I can appreciate solitude, I still like being able to talk to coworkers.”
“I have a big desk that is really a table. I like it because it gives me enough space to do any number of projects: draw, sew, work on my computer.
“I miss being around other big people. All the people in my house are little!”
Tedd (Digital Marketing Specialist)
“My desk is a chair I set my laptop on, or sometimes it’s just my laptop. I work on a chair in my living room next to windows where there is plenty of light. I enjoy close proximity to the kitchen to grab a snack or lunch easily.
“Working from home all the time feels weird, so I try and stay off the computer after work hours so that I don’t get too burned out from being on a computer all day. One way I cope with the cabin fever of staying at home all the time is by going on walks outdoors during breaks or small hikes on the weekends.
“What I miss the most about working in the office is having an extra monitor to use two screens at once and my standing desk”
Chris (SEO Strategist)
“My desk is in my room. One pro is that I like being able to listen to loud music whenever I want, but one con is that my chair is not good for long term computer work. A workaround that I found is folding a pillow and using it for lower back support to reduce back pain. I chose this location because I have some fun wall art in there
“The biggest two things I miss about going into the office are being around other people and separating my workspace from my home/relaxation space.”
Maddy (Content Lead)
“I’ve always loved having a few plants on my desk, but I’m really loving sprouting seeds in the window of my ‘home office’ (aka the kitchen). They only take a few days to a week to sprout so they’re very satisfying to keep up with. When I get stuck on a work project, it’s nice to grab whatever is sprouting and spend a few minutes potting it. By the time I wash the dirt off my hand, I’ve figured out a solution to the problem and I’m excited to tackle it. Plus, my lettuce is growing like gangbusters already.”
Kara (Content Writer)
“I work in my kitchen on the counter, because I don’t have a desk! That is something I will be investing in the future. I prefer this to sitting on a couch or a bed so that when my work is done, I don’t feel the anxiety of ‘I should be working right now’.
“I’ve enjoyed working from home (it’s one of my goals in life to work 100% remotely). Not that I don’t enjoy the presence of my co-workers! I just seem to work better in this type of environment. I do miss leaving my house, but, who doesn’t?! I also miss having a routine. My cat has been keeping me great company though!”
Katie (Content Writer and author of this blog)
Against all advice, my setup changes. We have an “office” in my house (a spare room with a desk, monitor, printer and spin bike), but it is a shared space. Since I’m the only person in the house with a desk in my bedroom, I’m more than willing to give the office up to work in my room when someone else needs the space. So, some days I’m working with an extra monitor, others I have to clear off my cluttered desk to make room for my laptop (as you can see pictured).
In either case, I’m able to work in a nice, quiet space. That is a blessing and a curse. While I can focus on my work a little bit better, I do miss bouncing ideas off my fellow content writers.
I have two pieces of advice for working from home. They’ve both been mentioned by other members of the team before, but I don’t think they can be said enough. The first, if you can: invest in an ergonomic chair. The second: take walks, outside if possible. It helps break the monotony.
Working from home can be kind of a mixed bag. But here are the overall takeaways I got from this mini-research project:
What we miss:
- Double monitors. Avant8 may have spoiled us. Most of us (myself included) are missing having the big separate monitors we normally use for work. Unfortunately, unless we’re willing to invest in one, many will continue to go without until we can get back to the office.
- Working around other (grown-up) people. The Avant8 office is open-concept, making the social interaction with each other pretty constant. So, it’s not surprising that so many of us are missing working with other people. Some of us do have children at home, but as much as we love them, it’s not the same.
Advice we have:
- Having your own space to work. There are a few who either don’t mind sharing their space or have to. But for a lot of us, being able to close ourselves off to work is a requirement. It also helps to have a nice clear space.
- Keeping work and relaxation separate. Many members of our team try to have their home office desk be as separate from their relaxation space. This is a great way to keep those home and work feelings separate.
- Combining work and hobbies. Whether it’s gardening or board games, our team has been finding ways of keeping the home office from getting stale between emails.
- Keep moving. Many of us have been taking walks when we can. Personally, I just take a little walk around my block. I’m gone for less than a couple of minutes and it gets me away from a screen.
None of this is permanent, but it’s still our reality for now. If you’re feeling a little down as a result of working from home, reach out to your coworkers. I know this whole experience of writing this blog has been cathartic to me, being validated in knowing that I’m not the only one getting a little stir-crazy.