By Magdalena Lynch & Trent Rhodes
WFH On the Rise
TR – Two movements of many seemed to have the broadest influence on the work-from-home lifestyle: introduction of technological tools enabling people to work more often from a distance and the wave created by the pandemic and policies around it.
TR – Before the pandemic prompted businesses and professionals to rethink how to continue operations, companies were already evolving in ways that empowered professionals to be out of the office and still complete projects.
TR – Skill demand is gradually moving away from repetitive task-oriented execution to more critical thinking, imagination and creativity navigating technologies and people collaboration. Many of these tech and communication skills can be applied without being in an office.
TR – To complement in-person meetings, tools like Zoom, Slack and Monday.com enabled organizations to scale and conduct business without having to focus on location.
TR – As our society becomes more digitized, trends like automation will create more career displacement; a side effect of this is increased 2nd jobs, side hustles, freelancing and gig work: all invigorated by the opportunity to work from a distance.
Pandemic says to most offices, “Goodbye.”
TR – The pandemic accelerated WFH realization. Those companies and professionals with the systems and skills could continue and in some cases expand by adopting distance work. Businesses that normally would have to source candidates locally to work in-office could now access a larger candidate market with remote work job opportunities.
TR – Candidates seeking new opportunities also could expand their reach by connecting with organizations just as broadly.
TR – With many ways to engage an off-site work experience, we wanted to give attention to the space that may be most consistent: your home.
Your WFH: A Homework Assignment
TR – Unlike a co-working space or cafe, the place you live is where sentimentality exists; it’s the place where you have memories, prepare meals, possibly have family and sleep. Home is where the heart is, and if you’re going to introduce this new work dimension into it, your well-being will be served by crafting an environment that stimulates, motivates and integrates your other life experiences.
ML – If you asked me 3 years ago whether a home office was a priority in my house hunt search, I would most probably just shrug my shoulders and say something like “Well, I guess if there was an extra room it MAY become an office, but a must on the list – absolutely no.”
ML – Things have changed dramatically in terms of where we work. Talk about WFH set-ups – from an ironing board, to a converted walk-in closet, to a stand-alone office shack, we’ve seen it all.
ML – For those of us city lovers, famous for cramping in studios and 1-bedroom apartments because we need and love the city hustle and bustle (love is love, okay?), finding yet another corner of the home that could serve as an office is just another way to prove our creativity and ability to stretch the space we already own.
ML – For the suburban lovers, finding the space may not be the biggest challenge, but more so selecting that area of the home and turning it into that dreamy office space.
ML – So how do you select the right WFH space?
ML – While I love the idea of converting walk-in closets and basements into offices, the one major drawback of doing so is the lack of natural light.
ML – If we turn to the ancient philosophy of Feng Shui, we’ll see that positioning of furniture and other elements in our environment could play a crucial role in our success and well-being. While Feng Shui could be an article topic on its own, what experts agree on is that you want natural light to come in, but you should not be directly facing a window. Surprising, huh? Not so much.
ML – Think about classrooms and how desks are organized – usually windows are on the side, because otherwise students would be way too distracted checking out what’s going on across the street or in the building next door. So if we think about work, same concept could be applied.
ML – Another interesting concept is that you should always be able to see the entrance (which again relates to not directly facing windows, as usually doors and windows are opposing each other).
ML – According to Feng Shui, you should see the door (if not possible, a trick that may work is placing a mirror so you can see that reflection), which is the Command position – in a nutshell, you have to be able to see the door, while having your back facing a solid wall.
Pictures – Many Words, More Inspiration
TR – There’s a common understanding that a picture can speak a thousand words, and spark infinite feelings. One visual can contain enough depth to evoke complex emotional experiences. If you already have a favorite photo, it’s probably set as your computer wallpaper or sitting right now on your living room shelf.
TR – This could be why we might take plenty of time to choose just the right photo for our smartphone wallpaper. If we’re going to see it each time we access the device, it better be important!
TR – In your WFH space, you can use imagery to advantage by selecting pictures that stimulate your ambition, inspiration, gratitude and future goals. Covering each of these, you’ll be prompted to consider who you are now, what you have and where you intend on going. Consistently seeing them will shift their meaning from your conscious awareness to imprinting on the subconscious, where they and the ideas they inspire begin to live with you no matter where you go.
TR – This is when you put on the detective hat and take time to pace through your home, noting the potential distractions. These are your adversaries with the sole purpose of throwing you off focus. Find them. They will hide from you.
TR – Does someone typically play their music too loud? Do you have to take care of pets? When are their walking times? Is there a window you typically stare out of and lose track of time? Which of your online games saps the most time out of your day? Do you have procrastination triggers?
TR – The mere identification of your distractions will help you remain aware of them. While you note their existence, consider how you plan to address them ahead of time. For this exercise, I recommend having a notebook or app for listing these distractions and solutions down.
ML – Moving on to another common obstacle – the clutter, and how it affects the flow in your home. You want to make sure there are no physical blocks making accessing your work space difficult (hello laundry baskets!). Just like we take care of our gardens by creating space for our flowers to bloom, we can take care of our home office space by making sure we can also have the space to grow!
Guard Your Space
TR – Creating a special work space can be challenging if you have an environment already accustomed to high activity.
TR – If you live with others, you may have to initiate a conversation around the purpose for your new space and why you need to guard it from distractions. Share cues with your housemates so they know how to communicate with you when you’re on WFH time.
TR – If you’re alone, you still help to generate a different mental frame by treating this WFH separation just as you would if you shared the place.
Time for Tunes
TR – Like pictures, music can move us towards success. This can be an opportune time to create some custom playlists.
TR – Based on your workflow moods, collect the songs that support deep work. I have several lists including ambience, classical, pop, jazz, club/dance, hip-hop/R&B and theatrical music with scores from movie trailers.
TR – If it’s not about a specific mood, you can do an all-playlist shuffle and go with the flow, or in this case with the tones.
TR – With these simple steps in place, you’ll be ready to develop a WFH flow. In our next article, we’ll give attention to tips on healthy self-care while working from home.