As individuals and organizations take on proper physical distancing measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have found ourselves spending more time at home for many reasons. What was once a common place to eat, sleep, and unwind, our homes also double as remote workspaces for those of us that have the option of working from home. With this significant change, we need to adapt to become more flexible with how we use our homes. We’re asking people in our community to share their work from home (WFH) spaces, routines, and coping mechanisms.
What is your profession?
Custom furniture designer and retailer
Tell us about your workspace.
I’m closed to outside business at the moment but I work alone and live upstairs, so I’m still working in my studio. I mainly work at the brass cube desk (one of my designs), but sometimes I’ll work at a table on my laptop so that I can more easily watch the dogs playing in the green space across the street. Watching happy dogs playing might be a distraction, but it always improves my mood, and a better mood helps me focus when I really need to.
What are some important aspects of your WFH space?
My desk is the most important piece of furniture in my space. I hate to confess that I’m a messy worker. Paper is my enemy. I’ll go through phases of desk chaos and then will take time to make it all immaculate again. I designed my desk with my bad habit in mind. It has a deep recessed area so that I can push things underneath, where they are more hidden, but still at hand.
I have two computers set up. I use my laptop for communication and internet, and a desktop to produce presentation and technical drawings, invoicing and accounting. By keeping the tasks on separate computers, I find that I’m not as easily distracted when I want to focus on my drawings or bookkeeping. I keep the desktop offline unless I need to send drawings.
Do you have a WFH routine or tips?
I wake at the same time every day, around 7:30-8am, eat breakfast and catch up on the news, and do a crossword. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I’ll exercise for a couple of hours in the morning. I’ve managed to set up a scrappy home gym since COVID. Being able to exercise a few times a week has helped keep me sane.
I don’t usually start work until between 11 and noon. I’m not a morning person, but it’s rare that I’m in demand in the morning anyhow. Right now I will work until around 6pm, but normally I’d work until at least 7:30 and often later. I would also normally work 6 day weeks, but I’m currently only working 5. Because of COVID there is just less work to fill my time, so I’m trying to allow myself a bit of extra mental space.
My business is unpredictable at the best of times. It has never allowed for completely fixed routines, so I’m used to being flexible and taking things as they come. I’ll take video calls with clients earlier or later or on weekends, but only the video part is new in that. This morning I had a video call that brought me down much earlier than usual. Oddly I actually like disruption to routine. It keeps me on my toes.
It can be very difficult to stay motivated at the moment. All but one of my deadlines are soft right now and there is less work to do than usual. I’ve been finding myself at a bit of a loss for what to do some days. When I get that way, I try to do some reorganizing, filing or cleaning just to snap myself out of it. Or I’ll just pack it in and go next door to my partner’s business and help with some bookkeeping.
Do you have any WFH coping tips?
For many years my space was in a different neighbourhood from home and it was always normal to “get ready for work.” The last three years living where I work has taught me how important it can be to put on a different hat when it’s work time. I need to feel like I’ve prepared to begin working. Being clean, dressed and fed are integral.
I can’t imagine working from bed or on the couch, and definitely not in sweatpants. I actually tried working on the couch a few days ago and just couldn’t get into it. I need to feel professional even if there is no judgement. Maybe there is something to the old adage, look good feel good. But my version is look professional, feel professional. (Perhaps I’d feel differently if I had to wear a suit and tie every day.)
When times are tough, gratitude is an integral part of keeping balanced. What are the things you are grateful for?
I’m very grateful to have stability in my life while the world is so unstable. My partner and I have both been self-employed for many years. We’ve experienced periods of serious instability and uncertainty over those years. Our businesses are both way down because of COVID limitations and shutdowns, but we do know we will come out the other side a bit battered but still OK. It is difficult, sometimes overwhelming and often disheartening, but we are smart or lucky enough to have a foundation strong enough to keep standing.
I am grateful that our families (including my 98 year old grandfather Norbert) are all still in good health and all taking the virus seriously. I’m grateful to have great friends who we still get to see for video cocktails. (It’s not the same as in person, but it’s something.)
I’m grateful that I still have some income despite being unable to have my doors open, and that I have clients who are understanding about delays in their projects and others who are still committed to projects that can’t begin until it is OK for my fabricators to proceed again.
Sending and receiving love right now is important. How are you expressing your love for the people in your life?
We’ve sent flowers and little surprise gifts out to a few friends and family members both locally and in other cities.
We’re trying to check in on older friends or friends who live alone. We are in much more frequent communication with our families.
*Are you working from home? Want to share your WFH space, routine, or coping mechanism? We’d love to hear from you.