San Francisco Bay Area — Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic taking root in the United States, Sami L. was traveling more than 250,000 miles a year for work.
Now, like many of us, he hasn’t been on an airplane since February, and he doesn’t foresee getting on an airplane for work ever again.
“I traveled a lot for my job,” says Sami, who works in Internet cloud security. “Zoom and other video conferencing technologies are working so well that I don’t think the traditional conference will make a comeback, at least not any time soon.”
Sami was already preparing for a new work reality prior to the pandemic — when he wasn’t traveling for work, he had to commute 3 hours round-trip to his office in downtown San Francisco.
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA — This past spring, as the country began to grapple with the impacts of COVID-19, Kevin started thinking of the future.
“I began working from home and my kids were home from school, and I could see, looking down the road, that we might be in this for awhile,” he said. “This thing might rear its head again soon, and if that’s the case, I knew I would need a place of privacy to do my work, and the kids would as well.”
Now, with fall approaching and the “new normal” fully in swing, Kevin is happy he made the choice to build a Modern-Shed this past July. In fact, he wishes he had built one “years ago.”
As I mentioned in earlier posts, staying focused on work can be challenging while working from home. The inclination to go to the fridge, do laundry or other chores are “in your face” when you are at home unless you have a completely separated space like a Modern-Shed. If you are in the dining room or down the hall, it is all too tempting to throw a load of laundry in or get a snack from the fridge. Here are some ideas to help keep those distractions under control.
Avoid the kitchen and use it as you might a “break room” at your old workplace. Keep a small fridge in your workspace to keep snacks and beverages in. Not that taking a break is a bad thing– it isn’t — but not if it is a several times during the day.
Schedule times during the day for a specific “break” to see your kids, talk to your partner, take a short walk or exercise.
Create rules in the home regarding interruptions by loved ones. Talk with loved ones about urgent, critical, important, or can it wait until after work hours? interruptions
Dress for work if it helps you stay focused and makes you feel like you are “at work”.
If you feel compelled to do something that could pull you away from work, such as laundry, set a timer on your phone beforehand for 5-10 min in case you go off on a tangent.
Set your alarm: Some folks can be on a flexible schedule but most need to be at work certain times of the day. Be careful not to run into the trap of “… oh, I can get to that later…” or “…I could work tonight instead of today…” I suggest keeping regular work hours and ask the boss what they require from you. If you are recently self-employed, create your work hours, track them, and stick to it.
Some of you may have never set up a computer before because you have an IT person at work. My guess is that if that is the case, your IT person will guide you to get things set up at home. Many businesses use a virtual environment or remote desktop that, once set up, your IT department can access.
As stated in an earlier blog post, your desk size and location are of utmost importance. Two of our Modern-Shed employees have monitor arms which allow their external monitors to be positioned any which way that suites them. This is very helpful for numerous reasons, not the least of which is switching it up occasionally to make things more interesting or moving your personal position in relation to sunlight as the seasons change.
My monitors sit on my desk but swivel and go up and down. They are also curved slightly which helps the transition from one to the other and keeps the screens a better relative distance to my eyes. Typical computer systems include a computer or laptop, keyboard, mouse, monitor(s) and printer. If you use a laptop with a built-in keyboard and trackpad, I highly suggest getting an external ergonomic keyboard and mouse … believe me, it will make your daily computer tasks much easier and help reduce chance of carpel tunnel.
The first purchase after your desk and chair is a high-quality surge suppressing outlet station with enough outlets for your computer, monitor(s), and any other expensive equipment. These units help control power to these items and reduce the chance of damage in the event of a power surge through your home. Continue reading →
Choosing a physical location at home to set up shop for your “office:”
Typical choices often are:
Dining room table
Corner of family room
Backyard tool shed
Detached home office space, such as our Modern-Sheds
The chosen space should:
Allow you to focus without major distractions
Allow for video conferencing and private phone conversations
Have access to natural light
Have enough space for your desk/chair/cabinets or shelves as necessary
Be customizable to create your space
Allow you to “leave” work
Over the 30-plus years that I have worked from home on and off, I have had my office in my bedroom (twice), in a spare room (twice), in the dining room (twice), in an insulated garage, in an RV and in a basement (obviously I have lived in numerous locations during the past 30 years!). Continue reading →
Now that many of you have become part of the WFH movement, I thought I could help many of you get started and adjust. I have been working from home on and off since becoming an entrepreneur in 1987, with the latest stint being the past 9 years continuously.
I’ll detail in a series of blog posts my tips on #WFH, starting today with being mentally prepared.
Be Mentally Prepared
Now that you are either faced with working from home by no choice of your own or are desiring to do so and have never done so before, it’s worth it to examine your thoughts on the subject, both positive and negative. Positive thoughts around WFH might include:
No more commuting
No more parking hassles
No more daily make-up or getting ready for work
Saving money on child care, parking, gas, eating out
Or the thoughts might be more subjective such as:
I get to wear my pajamas to work
I don’t have to see that person at work I don’t get along with
I can do laundry or other household chores during the week
I don’t have to work in a cubicle or pre-decorated office space of someone else’s choosing
Just as there are happy thoughts, there may also be some not-so-happy thoughts, such as:
I won’t see my friends from work anymore
I won’t get to eat lunch at those great places near work
I enjoyed the “me time” during my commute, by reflecting or listening to music, books or the news.
Los Angeles — After years at home raising children, Susie and her husband, Josh, began to think about what it would look like for her to ramp up her career as an educational therapist.
With a child still in elementary school, however, the couple wanted to figure out how Susie could still be around for their three daughters, but also have the time and space for work appointments that often take place after school, since Susie’s clients are also children.
That’s when Josh brought up prefabrication, a movement he’d been enamored with for two decades.
“I’ve fantasized about prefab sheds and subscribed to Dwell magazine for years,” Josh said. “The whole movement seemed cool; that kind of aesthetic and that kind of approach was appealing and exciting.” Continue reading →
BAY AREA — When Thorsten and Danielle were looking for a home two-and-a-half years ago, they saw several houses that had backyard sheds and dwelling units on a number of properties.
This was what first sparked the idea about obtaining a type of shed outdoors. When the couple found their dream home, they tucked the idea away in the back of their minds, and also thought of the perfect spot for a shed in their new yard.
“Our house had just the right spot,” Thorsten recalled. “The previous owners had a dilapidated play structure that we tore down. We had motivation to build something there, especially since I was already working one or two days a week at home and my wife, Danielle, works at home.”
Thorsten works in the technology department of a luxury automobile company, while Danielle works in the couture women’s retail industry.
Thorsten commutes about 50 miles to work three to four days a week, while Danielle works from home a few weeks at a time, then travels throughout the country visiting her brand’s stores a week or more at a time each month.
They both wanted dedicated home office space at home.
“When you work remotely, you like the notion of leaving your living space,” Thorsten said. “It takes 15 seconds to get to my office and then I’m not far if I need to go back to my personal space.”
Thorsten found the process to be smooth and simple with Modern-Shed’s design professionals and installation partners.
In light of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States, the home office has proved even more useful.
“Right now, we’re being encouraged to work from home because of the virus situation,” Thorsten said. “I like having a work space that’s not my dining room table.”
In addition to the standard white or sand-colored vinyl, Modern-Shed now offers Ply Gem Pro series windows which have co-extruded frames with either dark bronze or black on the exterior and always white on the interior. This is far superior to a painted option.
In limited markets, we also now offer Andersen Windows in the 100 series Fibrex line which come in five exterior colors and four interior colors. These are strong, environmentally smart and attractive.
Blue is a popular color for our Modern-Sheds, and we agree with the choice to feature the color this year because it evokes “calm, confidence, and connection (and) highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.”