Work from home quick tip 05

Ok folks, for those venturing in their first bout of working from home, you may be trying to figure out how it's going to work. So here is my next tip: REMOTE WORK

This may not be that relevant with the current situation we are all dealing with, but it's an important point for those who work at home under "normal conditions" - that is those who always work from home. Some times we need a break. My office setup is, at rare times, not conducive to being extremely focused. Dual large screen displays, new gear sitting around, YouTube, Spotify, email, chat and squirrels can all be distracting especially if you need to limit your ADD* and intently focus. My favorite tip for this is working remotely away your home office. I have a Surface Pro and sometimes I cart it off to one of many "remote" spots I have to work. I treat the small screen as if I can only have one program running, typically a Word document that I'm working on, and go at it. My remote space varies. Sometimes it's a coffee shop, sometimes it is my basement or back porch. It's nice to break up the scene every now and then. If co-workers need to reach me, my phone has our chat app of choice on it, I just don't launch it on the Surface Pro. I've found that I can devote about two hours to this hardcore focus. It may help you in those times when you need to buckle down and get the work out the door.


*I have a relatively bad form of ADD. Squirrels distract the hell out of me.

Work from home quick tip 04

Ok folks, for those venturing in their first bout of working from home, you may be trying to figure out how it's going to work. So here is my next tip: SCHEDULE

There are differing opinions around adhering to a traditional work schedule when working from home. One thought is that if you're supposed to work 8 hours, start at 8, take an hour lunch and end at 5. That's all well and good if you can do that without distraction - something new home workers will have a ton of to deal with. I would wager to say that most of us can't.

Personally, I don't like schedules. If I need to be in a virtual meeting at a specific time, so be it, but I rarely if ever work "8 to 5". It doesn't fit my lifestyle. When I first started working from home, I would typically wake up around 5am and after throwing a pot of coffee into my system, I would start working. "Lunch" was usually about a three hours break to go play bikes then I would work until 8-9pm. Lately, I've been adopting a 7-7 "schedule". Of course, I don't work 12 hours straight through but I get my business done between those hours. You'll have to figure things out along the way if you're thrust into working at home for the first time, but I wouldn't suggest what most "experts" say to do by keeping a normal work schedule. Wake up, get some work done. Take a shower, get some work done. Eat, get some work done. Take a nap, get some work done. You may find that this method breaks the monotony and keeps you fresher, allowing you to be more productive. Just don't let that nap go too long.


Work from home quick tip 03

Ok folks, for those venturing in their first bout of working from home, you may be trying to figure out how it's going to work. So here is my next tip: YOU'RE ON VIDEO - OMG

So all of a sudden, you're doing video conferencing with your co-workers. What do you do?

Let's assume for a second that you've been set up with the appropriate equipment (it can be as minimal as a tablet with a video chat app installed, all the way up to a pc with dedicated audio and video peripherals).

Sub tip 1 - Use the video. It's much more engaging and personal than a audio only conference call. If you're missing your co-workers, you get to see them.

Sub tip 2 - don't walk around holding the device/tablet/laptop while in a meeting. It's rude and the image will look horrible. If you have to move for whatever reason, turn off your camera (after telling everyone what you're doing), move, then turn the camera back on.

Sub tip 3 - do not sit in front of a window. Most, if not all cameras, will end up washing out the image if it's pointed toward the window. You will appear too dark to be recognized. Point your camera at wall.

Sub tip 4 - mind where else the camera is pointing. It should not point up your nose, down your forehead, or capture dirty laundry or empty beer cans.

Final tip - if you have to use the bathroom, excuse yourself and DO NOT take the device into the bathroom with you.

Work from home quick tip 02

Ok folks, for those venturing in their first bout of working from home, you may be trying to figure out how it's going to work. So here is my next tip: SPACE

New to working from home? If possible, your first priority is to find a place to work.

Not all of use have the luxury of devoting an entire spare room as a home office (or in my case, two spare rooms), but to maximize productivity, having some sort of dedicated space is ideal.

What's not ideal is setting up in any spot where you're forced to put everything away at the end of the day, like the kitchen table. Repeated setup and tear down of your work space gets monotonous. It's like it becomes your commute to work. Things get misplaced easier when you're packing things away constantly.

In front of the television in the living room isn't ideal either, it can be incredibly distracting - even more so if you're not the one in charge of what's on the TV.

Perhaps it's best to use a dining room if, like at my house, it rarely gets used. That way, you can set up and not have to worry about clearing the table before dinner.

The best place is always a dedicated space, like spare bedroom with a door. The next best space is somewhere where you can sit down first thing in the morning and get to it without going through the process of clearing the breakfast dishes before starting.

Work from home quick tip 01

Ok folks, for those venturing in their first bout of working from home, you may be trying to figure out how it's going to work. So here is my next tip: UNDERSTANDING

Everyone needs a little understanding. It could be the boss of your company, the workers or your family. Working from home isn't easy for most people, especially those forced into it.

Family
The family of home workers need to understand that yes, you are home, but you also need to get your work done. Just because you are home, it doesn't necessarily mean that the laundry will get done or the house will get cleaned daily.

Your Boss
Your boss needs to understand that this is a whole new world for a lot of us and there shouldn't be an expectation of 100% efficiency from day one. It will take some time, especially for those workers now trying to juggle work, the kids being home, the laundry, the dirty house, etc. Give your workers some space and time. You may actually find that that people become more productive and happy working from home.

Your Workers
Those working for you should also understand that this is new for most people, including you. Workers should not get over-offended if all of a sudden their boss is reaching out more. They probably aren't trying to micromanage, they are trying to figure this all out too.

With just a little understanding on everyone's part, we can all get through this so much easier. Most people are new at this. Allow some space and time to get it right.

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night

As many of you may know, in December I took a position with Wainhouse Research as a researcher. With this position comes a host of responsibilities and that means maintaining this blog isn't going to be possible. So let this be my send off.

So what happened?

I've had to explain it in person a few dozen times, but here it is for the typed version. Working with Array turned out to be a full time contract position for several years so I let the bulk of my other contract work go as a result. When my time with them came to a close I ended up back out chasing new clients. Something that was fun in my mid 30's became difficult and depressing in my late 40's. I began looking for full time work in earnest during the summer of 2018 as I grew increasingly tired of finding clients, working for them then being forced to chase payment through hoops of excuses.

My first and easiest avenue was finding a local "cad job", utilizing my experience in either mechanical, civil or architectural design (who ever would bite first). For most of the jobs I looked at, I was overqualified for except in education. Many jobs wanted limited actual practical experience but required a bachelor's degree. These were not even engineering or manager jobs, but cad designer positions. I was flat turned down many times: Too much experience or didn't meet the education requirement. My guess is that some of that may have been assumed salary requirements for someone of my experience or just plain ageism, knowing that 20 year olds are easier to push around than someone almost 50. It's the first time in my life that I've actually felt my age, or worse, older. Typically, I think of myself as no older than mid-30s for some reason but job shopping made me feel much older than my actual age.

Since luck wasn't going my way locally, I started branching out. I reach out to several video conferencing vendors offering myself as a camera/product designer. I have this little quirk of a skill that few have and that's the ability to manipulate a GeoSemiconductor warp chip differently than how most people are doing it. Knowing that most cameras for video conferencing have geometric image correction to limit fisheye, I thought I would be a shoe-in somewhere. The trouble was that I didn't live on either the east or the west coast. Video conference camera designer jobs in Cincinnati are non-existent (I already had the only one). It's always seemed odd when companies make a large marketing effort about working from home with their products who do not actually want that themselves. Thinking that you require on-site employees to create tools to enhance remote working seems counter intuitive. Think of the marketing potential to be had if your remote workforce created remote working products and solutions.

Early in my search I reached out to Wainhouse. It wasn't right at the time. On a whim in November, I reached back out. Turns out that it was the right thing at the right time and off we went.

The future

At Wainhouse my role is to research and evaluate anything relating to Unified Communication and Collaboration. No, I will not be the "next" anybody as outsiders have already begun pegging me to be. I am the first me. At the end of the day, my writing/reviewing style is my own. I just hope it's good enough. I will though commit to anyone reading that my content will never be fluff and won't be skewed in any way based on who is paying the bills. I've been consistent on this for years now and that won't change. Rest assured that content with my name attached to it will be based on the experience of and with the product/solution and will not be made to sound overly kind or mean based on anything other than my own hands on testing.

I can't thoroughly express how excited I am for this opportunity. I spent years testing, evaluating and writing about products on my own time and now it's become my job. I couldn't be happier.

In closing, I would like to thank the readers of this blog and the owners of other blogs that I've written for along the way. I appreciate you all. Thanks. I will keep this blog open as some of the content should stay relevant for a while.

Back to it.
Bryan

Bad Video Conference - lab style

This lovely marketing picture contains:

  1. People not in the camera's field of view
  2. Over sized Logitech web cam
  3. No cables of any sort
  4. A five-way multipoint which means that everyone in the local room (those who actually make it into the FOV) are incredibly tiny to everyone else.

Bad Video Conferencing Returns

Oh my, where to start? Marketing photography at it again with this delightful photoshoot.

We all know cameras aren't necessary for video conferencing, or maybe thee fine people are watching a television show about people in a conference room. That's if for the Q&D of the day.

Hellard Design drafting services

Hellard Design offers commercial real estate drafting services at a reasonable rate.


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  • Presentation drawings - we can create attractive floor plans for use as your marketing materials.
  • Space planning - see how the interior floor plan of your commercial space will look like after construction before your contractor does any actual work.


For the builder and developer:

  • Master planning - want a quick study of how many lots or units you can fit on any given site? We can do that. We can created phased plans for any size property. We have master planning experience from sites ranging from a half acre to a thousand.
  • Feasibility studies on building additions. See how the addition will look without the cost or obligation of hiring an architect or contractor.


For the building owner/tenant:

  • Allow us to space plan a remodel or addition. Our flexibility allows us to work closely with you to create floor plans and layouts with a quick turnaround. Our rate assures that you won't spend thousands of dollars on a project that may not end up getting built.



Contact Bryan Hellard for more details
bryan@hellarddesign.com
513-252-8517