While many who are able to work remotely are now doing so for the first time, working from home is old hat for me. I’ve worked remotely, as a security consultant, twice a week since June 2018. It was a compromised arrangement with my consulting client to reduce the need to travel to their office in the Wall Street Financial District. The arrangement has worked well for me, allowing the freedom to schedule medical appointments for the days I work remotely, which up until recently, was Wednesday and Friday.
I have a dedicated space to work; an IKEA desk that is wide and long enough to properly fit a 27" iMac with two second-generation Apple Magic Mice and Apple Magic Keyboard, four external hard drives, and an HP LaserJet printer, while still also having open space to write or sign papers, etc. Why two mice? The Apple Magic Mouse 2 charges via a Lightning port on the bottom, making the mouse unusable while charging. I keep on mouse charged while using the other so I don't have to stop working if the mouse battery is discharged. I have high-speed broadband (although because of load, the ISP had reduced the speeds by half) through Xfinity/Comcast. I access the company's system via a Citrix VDI from Citrix Workspace for macOS.
I use my iPhone 11 Pro and AKG N60NC over the ear noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones to dial into WebEx sessions. The long-lasting rechargeable battery gives me 15 hours of use and the WebEx audio quality is better on the iPhone than via the WebEx audio on the VDI session. In the afternoon, when I don't have meetings, I switch to my Grado SR60 over-the-ear open-backed headphones to listen to music from my iMac. Sometimes I work in silence.
I have a daily weekday routine. I get up, dress in shirts and pants, make coffee and breakfast, etc. around the same time every day. A shirt and pants are part of my "dressing for the occasion" and help me get into the proper mindset. I tend to shower and shave at night. I don't do any video with my WebEx sessions, but shaving every other day reduces the itching and bumping which allows me to focus. My shaving regimen aligns neatly with the days I work remotely.
Because I work as part of a larger team, I start working around 8 AM EST to ensure I get enough collaborative time with the UK project teams. My mornings are busy with conference calls, but my afternoons are free for me to research and develop solutions and clear out the email queue. My workday ends at 5 PM EST but I occasionally work thirty minutes later. Before COVID-19, every Friday I met with one or more friends at a nearby Tavern for lunch. It was a good way to end the week and catch up and maintain relationships while enjoying a pint of locally brewed micro-brewed ale.
The new challenge is working from home without being with my friends and colleagues for lunch or a Friday after-work pint. It's the physical isolation that is most challenging for me. The governor of New Jersey has issued a "stay at home" order, effectively shutting down the Tavern and gatherings of more than 10 people. I have the additional challenging of sharing the bandwidth and common areas of my home with my children who have been sent home from school.
Thankfully, weather permitting (it's still early spring in New Jersey, and we still get dark skies and cold rain), I can still go out for a walk on my lunch break.
I'm struggling with how to manage my hair, given that all barbershops are now closed. My hair grows quickly, and regular once-every-two-weeks cut kept things neat. I was not able to get a cure before the state shuttered all barbershop. In another week, I will have a 1970's Afro with no means to manage it. I'll avoid any portraits and video conferences.
A few articles on remote work from around the IndieWeb:
- Working from home can be magical by Brett Terpstra
- Automattic's Matt Mullenweg offers recommendations for headphones/headset for improving the sound quality of meetings.