Working From Home

It’s now been one month since I’ve started to work for Denny Cherry & Associates Consulting.  Working for DCAC now enables me to work from home. This was a substantial shift for me as I’ve never done this full time.  Working from home offered a lot of flexibility that I was looking for.  I thought that I would share some of my experiences after making the change.

Workspace

One of the first things that I knew that I wanted to do was to invest in my work space.  After all I’ll be spending the majority of my day here. Previously I had what I would call your standard desk that you’d find in most homes.  It was a solid desk but it didn’t really facilitate working from home full time.  At the previous two employers, I was lucky to have a stand-up desk.  I liked the flexibility of being able to sit or stand as needed plus I think that standing is healthier for me.   Jes Borland (B|T) did an excellent blog post on a stand up desk that she had purchased, Uplift Desks.  One of the issues that I have with standing desks is that being taller it needed to be able to raise up to my desired height.  Thankfully the Uplift Desk does this. So I invested in a 72″ x 30″ – 1″ thick Bamboo standing desk.

The desk was easy to assemble.  I took me approximately an hour or so to put together.  I had a small helper so I think I could have done it faster but he likes to help me with things like that.  I really like the amount of work space that this desks offer up.  As you can see, I’ve got the desk situated so that I can look out the window and see the day (even through the crappy windows).

I opted for the smart control panel so that I can have pre-set height settings.  With a push of a button, the desk will automatically raise/lower to the preset height.

As a bonus, when I purchased the desk, it also came with a thick standing mat that is also really comfortable.  I find that I am standing about 50% of the time, mostly during conference calls.  I also borrowed a foot stool from my son’s.  This allows me to adjust my standing position when needed.

Distractions

One of the concerns with working from home was the amount of distractions that can occur from home, namely the television.  Thankfully, I have found that I don’t turn on the TV at all unless it is to stream Pandora music.  I normally have some sort of music going all day long.  It’s been a month and I have yet to have a TV show on while I work.  This allows me to focus on tasks at hand without trying to keep up with whats going on with West Wing (awesome show, BTW on NetFlix).

I’ve recently switched over to a blue tooth speaker that is paired with an older iPhone and that works nicely.  I am looking at an Amazon Echo so that I can just give it voice commands as to what music I want to hear.  I’m lazy so sue me.  Christmas time is approaching so I’m hoping that Santa brings me one.

Schedule

In the past, I’ve worked the normal 8-5 type of positions that, for the most part, required me to be in the office.  I always had to juggle adult/kid responsibilities and sometimes that was difficult to manage.  Working from home has given me the flexibility to have a better work life balance.  Denny & crew are really flexible with work hours as long as things are getting done so this really helps.  I can plan my day easier and work later in the day or even weekends if needed.  I even spent some time the day after Thanksgiving working on things as I had time to do so and that was perfectly fine.

I use a couple of tools to help try to keep me on track.

  • Trello – I’m a fan of kanban type of boards (take your pick) and Trello is free.  I’m able to email in tasks as well as create them ad-hoc.  This allows me to prioritize projects & work.  I can set due dates and take notes as I work on things.  You can share cards with other users if needed, assign tasks to others as well as upload attachments. There is also a mobile application so I can see things while on the move.
  • Toggl – As a consultant, billable time is the name of the game.  I’ve tried out a couple of tools to help me track my time and settled on Toggl.  For the most part it fits all of my needs , although, I think the reporting could be better for the free subscription.  I’ve considered paying for the paid version to get better reporting but for now I’m just using the free service.
  • Pandora – I work best when there’s music going.  Depending on things, I’ll listen to heavy metal or even classical (love 2Cellos FYI for this).  It’s also a free service as long as you don’t mind ads playing every so often.  I’ve used Pandora for years now.  I know that Spotify is also a popular choice.

Routines

Before making the decision to switch jobs, I did a lot of research on how making working from home successful.  One of the consistent messages was to keep a pretty constant routine.  I’ve found that this is the case.  I have to take one of my kids to school every day, so I maintain the same routine as I did when having to go into the office.  I awake at roughly the same time, shower, get dressed and moving.  I have yet to NOT follow that routine (unless it’s the weekend) and I think that was a good decision.

Exercise

Another aspect of working from home is that my daily activity is significantly less.  When I worked in an office, I would take walks on occasion and I have found that into the current schedule is harder than I expected.  I did invest in a good quality resistance band so that I could do some exercises while working, usually on conference calls when there isn’t any video.  This allows me to multi-task a bit, I can get some level of exercise/movement while working.  I’ve done this a couple of times now and it’s worked out well so far.

The red/gray ones I purchased from Target for less than $25 and the green ones were a gift from a previous employer.

Conclusion

In short, I find that I really like working from home full time.  I think my stress levels are down (which is a great thing) and I enjoy “going” to work.  If you are thinking about making the shift to working from home full time make sure you research articles on how to make it successful.   Invest in your work space, keep your routines as best as possible and find the tools that work for you to keep up on projects & tasks.

If I can do it, so can you!

 

© 2017, John Morehouse. All rights reserved.

3 Replies to “Working From Home”

  1. Hi John!

    I’m also working from home now – 3 months in. I thought I might add to your comments a little…

    I went with the largest varidesk — love it. It *is* smaller, and I find I have to sit when it comes time for paperwork, but it’s usually a good time for a position change anyway. The standing desk and floor pad is extremely helpful. I should invest in something exercise related too, that’s a great idea. I’ve become far too sedentary.

    Amazon Echo is a great investment. It’s a small thing, but distractions from a bad Pandora track are simply a voice command away. I also have several home automation features via Samsung SmartThings that aid in my work-from-home comfort – most importantly a colored LED lamp which blinks in various ways when certain events are triggered: garage door opening, motion at the entrance of my office, etc.

    I invested in a set of Bose QC35 noise cancelling headphones, and it makes all the difference in the world for maintaining focus. The distracting noise from the furnace, wife, kids, dog, refrigerator, wind, etc is gone.

    However, in contrast, I’ve totally shifted my schedule and routine. I start at 5am, shower when I’m done at 1 or 2pm. I often find myself tinkering at work for hours in the evening. It’s probably not the best idea, but it works for me and I’m sure my employer loves the extra hours.

    Lastly, I force myself to make social appointments at least once a week. A lunch, a user-group, a beer with colleagues. Anything to keep connected, and get out of the house. I’ve already had a solid week where I didn’t leave the house at all – and that’s just not healthy.

    All in all, I love it too. Lower stress, very very productive, and in spite of putting in more hours, still have a better work/life balance.

  2. Love the comments Eric!! I usually don’t have any other noise distractions during the day. I have had days where I started work at 6:30. Getting up earlier might be something I should try and see how it goes. I love my sleep though. 😉 I’ll be traveling a little more so I’m looking into investing in noise cancelling headphones so I’ll look at the QC35’s. Like you, my goal is to get an Echo of some fashion to help stream line things. Glad it’s working out for you!!

  3. Thanks for sharing the article john.

    I ve been enjoying WFH for several months now.

    Following the same routine is the key. I wanted to ask about dual screens. How does it help please?

Leave a Reply