30 Joint WFH Tips

Random Observation/Comment #652: There’s no place like working from home.

Why this list?

I already wrote a set of 30 Remote Working Tips, which I thought were pretty comprehensive, but I forgot to take into account one major Coronavirus impact – my wife is also working from home. We’re in a NYC apartment. Normal routines disrupted. Tight space. Productivity decline. Need to cope.

  1. Designate areas in the apartment as working spaces – We only have one dedicated ergonomically friendly working space (with an awesome chair).
  2. Create a secondary/temporary working space – Folding table and laptop stand near a power strip far enough away to not hear each other’s calls. We are aiming for extendable multi-purpose furniture that is collapsible.
  3. Communicate your schedule for high priority calls – Simple Sunday weekly sync and morning check-in. You can also write it out on the whiteboard.
  4. Alternate hours on or off the main space – We do hourly block reservations or lightweight “morning” vs “afternoon” blocks
  5. Make a working basket for each of you (useful for the temporary working space) – Keep a separate pile of necessary equipment like wireless keyboard, wireless mouse, charger, headset, snacks, etc. Don’t dump both equipment together or you’ll be frustrated with loose entangled wires.
  6. Invest in Bluetooth headphones with a good microphone to keep you mobile – I dial in from my phone on calls that don’t need my sustained participation, so I can walk to another room. This also keeps you active for the pacer.
  7. Coordinate time to hang out – We play table tennis on the 2nd floor to get some time together to chat and get out of the space.
  8. Take turns cooking/reheating prepped lunch – If I don’t have a meeting at 11:30, I’ll offer to heat up food for us.
  9. Upgrade your coffee pot size – We needed to fill 2 full mugs
  10. Take turns brewing coffee and filling each other’s cup – It never hurts to ask (as long as you’re not interrupting). Also do this with water to make sure we’re hydrated.
  11. Keep a separate dedicated cup and water bottle as a part of your working basket.
  12. Mix it up with cold brew – Pretty easy to make and easier to control strength when watering it down for the afternoons.
  13. Be mindful of extra groceries – We need to buy extra coffee beans and creamer (this is something we do not want to run out of).
  14. Put the dishes in the dishwasher – Personal pet peeve of piled up dishes leading to spirals of home activities distracting me from work activities.
  15. Take a walk or do yoga together – Ask her when you can take a 20 minute walk before or after lunch. Schedule this as a meeting.
  16. Move vital personal belongings that have frequent access away from the working spaces
  17. Don’t take it personal if either of you have to say “I can’t talk right now”
  18. Come up with a system that indicates you’re busy.
    Ex 1. Use an old school door open/close policy – if the door is open, you can come in and get stuff or say hi. If the door is closed, I am busy, so lightly knock first.
    Ex 2. Use the headset with mic up/down policy – if the mic is down, you should not be disrupted. If it’s up, mouth and hand signal “are you in a call?”
  19. Get out of there – Move to another space like a coffee shop for a change of scenery once in a while.
  20. Avoid the urge to sing the song stuck in your head – You’re not that good of a singer (or you risk getting it stuck in her head). This Storybots song is lit.
  21. Don’t forget to text each other – It’s still a cute way of saying “Hi” and scheduling time together.
  22. Share the whiteboard space – Decide on colors and quadrants (why did you pick purple when all my tasks are already written in purple?)
  23. Buy a room divider – Especially if your work space is in your bedroom and there’s risk of the camera showing your Significant Other getting dressed (my bad, but this only happened once)
  24. Start and end your day with your own (or joint) routines – This could just be breakfast orders or end of day de-stress meditation.
  25. Prep lunch the night before – Ask about what you can prep for lunch tomorrow.
  26. Encourage each other to take breaks to avoid cabin fever
  27. Be nice to each other for the little things that show you care
  28. Be wary of noises – This is standard open office seating etiquette, but it’s good to point out that my original Jabra conference call puck is not being used. Use headphones. Note important calls.
  29. Be wary of smells – Stop eating red vinegar dumplings.
  30. Invite her to help you write/edit this list of 30

~See Lemons and Vnessa with an Eye for WFH