How to Effectively set Boundaries of Working From Home (or the Lack Thereof)

Have you been working too hard working from home?

Are people getting in your hair?

Are you concerned if you are in a non-compliant workspace?

I have been WFH before there was even a phrase; I know what can work and what shouldn’t; here are my suggestions

Have a physical space that is separate from the overall living area.

Also known as: Get a Room! You need a place to mingle with your work, and office matters. You also need to understand that such space would be required if your work space is mandated by laws such as FERPA (if you’re a teacher), HIPAA (if you’re a doctor or healthcare professional), or any of the financial regulations if you’re trading from home and you work for a big bank. If you have a compliance manager, please go to them for guidelines

Have a physical network that is separate to your overall home network.

Assuming the audience is mostly using WiFi; and depending if your work requires  a use of a Virtual Private Network or VPN. A VPN in the enterprise tech world is not a way to evade from georestrictions on multimedia, nor is it just a way to secure data; but it’s also a secure way to get into the company’s data, and resources and actually have remote access. Most of the file and data manipulation will most likely come from a host from within and not your notebook or PC or Mac from home. Check with your information technology or services personnel to see if a) you need VPN to just check email or you need that encrypted access to those internal machines that aren’t exposed to the overall Internet. In my environment, my mother was unable to go into VPN from my LAN, because it was a corporate LAN in many ways and it likely was blocking ports or resources to get out, I didn’t keep logs and that’s still a work in progress to get the core LAN stabilized. For me, I “piggy-back” off the Airport Extreme that’s near the modem; which defines the “separate” home network.

Don’t have the stimulants from home in your WFH space

Like how your ol fifth grade teacher suggested, don’t do homework near a TV, a gaming system, etc. Ironically, while I haven’t played games recently; I most often have my TV on some days, and if I am working hard, I’ll mute the set. Though in some of my Zoom calls, I have caught myself not looking into the camera and doing other stuff that really is considered to not be fully respectful to the other party.

Wired Ethernet or GTFO!

If you found a Category 5e or 6 cable somewhere and didn’t buy one, you ought to. Why? Depending on what wireless receiver you have, you could be ranging at 54 megs per second to nearly 400, if you’re lucky and you have a newer base station and a device that can do that. But did you know that if you break the cult of minimalism of no wires, no clutter and other BS; that you could get up to 1 gigabit per second if you use a hard wire? This will make you look more professional because many of the “jitters” on Zoom, Skype and other A/V chat apps are coming form an overwhelmed WiFi connection or a lower speed WAN connection, but most likely everyone is on high speed Internet in most locales outside of DSL and 3G internet. FFS just get a cable if you want to be taken seriously.

Simpler Stuff: Be More Boring than Fancy…but ensure the substance of the furniture is more important than the style of it,

If you work in an office where it was a traditional office; for the sake of being professional, get for FFS alive; make it look professional! Don’t get all minimalism. If your office was sophisticated, simplicity won’t work. Don’t get a 12 by 24 inch “desk” that you found at Tarrjay. Not only will it not last a year, it’s too small and it won’t work well.

You could take page from the Clickford Custom Cubicle Solution. For $80 at it’s max environment, you can get a small cubicle like workspace, using 2×4 studs, brackets, bolts and nuts, and melamine boards and you will automatically make that Target bought stuff jealous and either get it at the same price with better quality.

If you are not-so creative, the other option is not Staples or OfficeMax/Depot, but some used office furniture store if you have on in your area. For the Southern NH region, I recommend Office Alternatives (formerly known as Surplus Office Furniture.) I once had a great salesman named Bob, but sadly he left. The used furniture industry is hurting because of misperceptions of the customer. Here is a big secret I am exploiting on my page: the sticker on the used chairs and furniture is a recommended price. If you know your pricing negotiation skills, you may save more in future purchases because this is how you build relationships with sales. While I haven’t purchased anything at the said location in a while; using that as a leverage will save you in a long run. But if you had WFH and if you have ran a bunch of micro enterprises; then this no-news to you.

Impose office rules

I do not bother my mother, unless it’s really important. I put a policy to abut no less than 3 times per 8 hours. I understand she’s working and paying off the same dwelling we live in and she’s working in. Likewise, this is a similar expectation (that often results her calling my extension about an average of 5 times per 12 hours for quasi important matters.) My work is a bit different.

Apartment; single story dwellers are probably at high risk of low productivity

The only option I would suggest is to carve out, partition or assign some corner to your work. I would also say a single story living environment is also at high risk too for low productivity. If you are healthy, use this as a power to get your bosses back into the office sooner if you haven’t already.

Trust us, we have been working from home before it was even a buzzword. 🙂