Working from Home, week 1

These are strange times we live in. Maybe someday we will find it useful to look back at what we were thinking back in early 2020!

I’ll count the past week as the first week that I’ve spent mostly working from home, since I only spent about 1.5 work-days in the office.

Productivity expectations

This week feels rather different from the usual “oh I’m feeling under the weather or actually sick and I’ll just wfh today”, because when you’re sick-and-wfh anything non-zero is a win, but I don’t feel like this widespread wfh comes with that commonly understood expectation of lowered productivity (yet). It might be just me though.

I think a lot of other people are going to have their wfh productivity impacted more than usual because of these unusual times, so we should really just straight up tell people that it’s okay!

After all, they might now have multiple people working at home, kids might be out of childcare/preschool entirely or soon to be put on home-based learning x days a week, stressing out about scheduling grocery store trips and purchase limits since grocery delivery services are hugely backlogged…

Work environment

Working from home for multiple days on end is different from a couple hours in the evening or a day on the weekend. Ergonomics matter more! Working from a sofa (or bed) is eventually as painful as working from Starbucks gets.

Things I did this weekend to try and improve my wfh environment:

  • I already have a huge desk (yay!) and monitor arms setup, so I moved things around to bring the monitor closer and make it feel more like my work desk. I don’t know why I usually have the monitor really far back, but now it’s slightly over 50 cm away if I scoot my chair all the way in, and about 70 cm if I have my keyboard all the way at the desk edge.
  • Got some BLÅHUVA blackout curtains from IKEA to try and block the morning sunlight and heat from my east-facing window. It doesn’t appear on the website, but they’re $69! I’ll find out how well it works heat-wise tomorrow. They definitely work very well for light, and the small leakage is from the existing curtain rods not extending to either side of the window – the window runs pretty much to the wall on both sides.
  • Rearranged a bookshelf and threw some spare curtain cloth over the bit right behind me to try and minimise visual noise. I knew it irritated me having to make video calls with that in the background, but I didn’t quite realise how much until I got this done. Still not perfect, but it might be good enough for Skype for Business’ video auto-crop.
  • Evicted my personal MacBook Pro from my desk, I was running out of space dealing with two work laptops and my desktop and that laptop. Now the space is taken up by more power adapters and a USB headset.
  • Removed the arms from my desk chair. It has been irritating me for some time, as they’re at uneven heights and have to be too high for my desk to go over the desk surface, but it was still bearable in short doses of a couple hours at a time. I was hunting for large hex keys over the weekend and finally remembered my bicycle’s multitool kit today!

Things I didn’t manage to do:

  • Make sure I have a fully working mechanical keyboard at home. I brought my office one home mid-week and just fully switched over to it on Friday, and it’s night and day over using my Logitech keyboard and the terrible MacBook Pro keyboard for days on end! I wanted to fix this by continuing replacing the chattering keys on my split keyboard but I don’t have enough new Zealios switches to fix all of them.
  • Find a webcam for my desktop monitor. It’s just a nice to have, I could always dig out a personal laptop if I wanted to get on video chat and didn’t want to use my work devices or my phone, but decent and affordable webcams seem rather out of stock lately.
  • Find a workaround for the HDMI inputs on this PRISM+ monitor. It just doesn’t auto-detect nor accept manually switching between the two HDMI and one DisplayPort input, and it doesn’t advertise itself properly or something so sometimes my desktop and laptops don’t even send output to it. I think I just need to pretend that it’s a single input monitor.

I don’t think those items will be fixed anytime soon, so I’m just gonna try my best to carefully shuffle the HDMI cable (and keyboard’s USB cable) around!

For this week I’ll try to keep a litre water bottle around like I do at my work desk, to encourage hydration. I usually run through a full bottle and 2-3 mugs of tea/coffee in a day, so I’m definitely drinking less than usual recently.