Get Comfortable, This Might Last A While

By Jeffrey Davis

Since the pandemic hit, our work-from-home (WFH) skills have graduated from novice to intermediate.

Invited to another Zoom call? No problem, we know exactly where to click. Wi-Fi issues have been addressed. And we’ve claimed that basement corner or guest bedroom as our new office, along with an extra two hours a day, previously lost to commuting to that office chair.

The future of work has changed, with many vowing not to return to an office environment if possible. At the same time, some companies fear that if they don’t go remote they will lose their best people to savvy competitors.

So now is the time to spruce up your WFH office space as this could be your future work environment.

At the end of 2019 before the pandemic became widespread in the US, opinion research firm CivicScience began tracking work from home productivity. Since the start of the pandemic, the data around WFH has undergone quite the evolution and most workers are considered more productive. The report shows 35- to 54-year-olds are the most likely to enjoy working from home, while 18- to 24-year-olds like it the least.

Although working from home is not (or has not been) possible for 49% of U.S. adults, among those who are working from home, 66% have had a positive experience, according to the research.

As you head toward WFH expert level, a few tips will help you settle into a better work environment.

You don’t need to sit upright at a desk all day, or in the guest room with papers spread across a bed.  WFH allows for a change of scenery so I switch it up based on the task. As a PR consultant I work best on a work surface to focus on high concentration tasks like accounting and bill paying. But when writing (like I am right now) I’d rather be outdoors, or at least sitting in a comfortable chair or on the couch.

And how about those video calls? Now that dialing into Zoom has become second nature, have you taken the time to assess your background? Room Rater, a fun Twitter account that critiques Zoom and Skype appearances on TV, looks at lighting, rewards you for displaying a plant or flowers, and gives special kudos for a piece of art, the ubiquitous bookshelves and a bonus if you add a pineapple.

The main point is that your image on video calls is important. Don’t let the camera aim up at you with not much for the viewer but a dimly lit room and unflattering image of your ceiling fan, or worse – a direct view up your nostrils. Camera angles matter.

And when you’re not staring at yourself on a video call, look for ways to structure your WFH day based on your strengths in order to beat the productivity slump. Early birds can be extremely productive beginning at 6 or 7 a.m., allowing for a morning break for a workout or walk. Reverse that schedule if you are a night owl. One of the benefits of WFH or WFA (anywhere): as long as you are available for calls and deliver on deadline you should be fine.

Regardless, it doesn’t look like this pandemic is going away any time soon and we’re in for a few more months. Settle in, get comfortable, and be sure that the image you’re continuing to convey online is consistent with how you would present in person.