It was in March 2020 when Corona got serious and all employees where I work were ordered to work from home when ever possible. I was just coming back from a vacation (vacation, travelling, …, remember?) and had to adjust quickly to the new situation. Even when the situation was a bit better during the summer months, I continued working from home, because it’s not over yet.
But after 12 months it’s perhaps time for a short summary.
Things I got right immediately
When I started working from home I immediately knew that I cannot do that from the living room table. I needed a desk and I needed a setup similar to the one I use in the office. Fortunately I have a (until then) hobby-room on the top floor. Repurposing a desk there could be done immediately. I was able to get two large monitors for my laptop from the office (I need a lot of screen real estate), a keyboard and a mouse.
Connectivity wise I already had a good DSL connection, but I upgraded to the next level to get more upstream capacity. Not really necessary: I also rebuilt my home network from a mixed-vendor setup to a setup using Ubiquity switches and access points. I guess most people just have a router at home, but being a network engineer I wanted to have at network I can debug if needed.
Adjustments over time
Summer came and with it I noticed the not-so-good insulation of the top floor. It got pretty warm in my office at home. It always was warm, but I never really noticed as I was usually away during daytime. So I added a cheap portable air conditioning machine. Not very effective but it kept the temperature to a level I was able to continue working.
Later in fall I added some additional lighting. I do webinars from home, so I need to be illuminated properly. Latest addition is a green screen. I am not ashamed of my chaos, but when recording videos for publishing a virtual background is nice (in opposite of doing al live webinar – I loved showing that I am in the same situation as everybody else).
By now my daily routine had adjusted a bit:
- I get up later, because my only commute is walking up two floors. And I started working about an hour earlier (around 8ish usually).
- I work longer in the evening, because again, no commute necessary.
- To compensate this, I take a longer lunch break (no rushing to the nearby butcher any more, but home cooking every day) and I added a coffee break in the afternoon (to talk to family over the phone).
In total, I kept about the same hours (perhaps I work even more), but distributed them differently.
Internet was up and running always, I only had one outage during the whole time, lasting from Saturday until Monday morning. And of course it was the providers fault.
Things that came later
Missing most is the contact to my colleagues and also the change of scenery during the day. To compensate for the change of scenery I started to take long walks in the evening. Always taking my camera.
About the contact to colleagues, I always switch on the camera if someone phones me. Does not matter how I look that day. We are all in the same situation, and a friendly face on the screen helps.
Things I will continue doing once I go back to working in the office
- The walks in the evening (in summer or fall)
- Some days I will continue working from home – mainly when writing texts or presentations
- Also my commute might change when I will work form the office again, like work the first hour from home to avoid traffic. I have the setup now here, so I can continue using it.
Everybody is in a different situation so I cannot really give any recommendations here. Just the usual common sense ones:
- Adjust your daily routine. Experiment. If you feel better after a change, keep it. If not, roll back.
- Do not be afraid to ask your employer for hardware if you really need it. Or buy stuff yourself if it is not really needed for your work. I got two monitors from my company but rebuilt my networks myself.
- Your mental health is most important. Talk with someone if you run into problems.
With that, it is time for my coffee break now. Stay healthy!
- In this year I ordered and consumed 20kg of coffee beans. Usually I buy 2-3kg per year.
- Despite sometimes cooking twice a day, my weight did not go up.
- Because of the cooking, the use of olive oil also went up – but I cannot tell you how much.
- The use of electricity went up – in 2020 I used 4432kWh, in 2019 it was 3534 kWh.