Are you one of the millions of Americans currently adapting to a new remote-working regimen? Are you finding it more challenging that expected, or struggling to stay productive? That’s okay! Working remotely creates new challenges which can pose an obstacle to even the most diligent employee. Many people are discovering the reality of working remotely isn’t nearly as ideal as it sounds on paper, but with the right strategy and plan, you can be successful doing it. Michael and Aaron share lessons and advice they’ve collected from a decade of remote work to help you make it through these tough times.

Followup Resources

Colors.lol (3:46)

Working Remotely (10:26)

Transcript

The following is a machine-generated transcript of this episode. It will contain errors until it has been reviewed and edited, and we apologize for the difficulty that may cause for screen readers. Do you want to help us speed up our transcribing process? Consider sponsoring an episode.

Hey, everybody, thanks for sitting down with us this evening. This is the drunken UX podcast. This is episode number 62, where we’re talking about working remotely during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. I am your host, Michael Fienen.

Other other hosts Aaron Hill. Hey doing Michael.

I feel like my intro to this show the longer I’m doing it. The more newscaster this the whole starting segment is getting. That’s why I say other other Host. Yeah, I don’t have like a nice little catchy thing. It’s just like I’ve just kind of fallen into this very Matter of fact, it’s like I’m doing well. Thank you for asking. Hello. Folks, this episode of the dragon UX podcast is brought to you by our friends. Over at New cloud, you can check them out at New cloud.com slash drunken UX. You can go check them out if you want to get anything done with interactive maps, illustrations or tools for your website. Let’s see what else do we got going on Aaron?

Check us out on Twitter and facebook.com slash Joker in UX and on Instagrams comm slash dragon UX podcast. And also you can come and chat with us on dragon UX comm slash Discord. We are on discord now.

And let’s talk about what we are drinking tonight. I’m having makers 46 makers 46. I like Maker’s Mark sounds good. Yeah, normal makers market gets Okay,

I can sit down and have a glass of that.

But boy makers, 46 makers 46 to me, is maybe not as like I like it. I like Maker’s Mark. I’ve had gentlemen jack on the show before and I mentioned like I don’t like jack daniels. I think jack daniels is kind of crap. But boy do I enjoy gentlemen jack This is a similar kind of thing

it’s like the like the Bud Light of whiskey or a bottle of bourbon he

yeah kind of that that’s gonna insult somebody but

I mean I don’t feel bad about that I mean no disrespect to it like it’s like I’ve people who like Bud Light like it and that’s totally fine you know like you start not disrespecting it just that it’s very popular and it’s sort of an entry like entry point into drinking it’s kind

of jack is great for mixing Yeah. And Maker’s Mark is very much that way normal Maker’s Mark is a great cocktail bourbon but man makers 46 with just a giant hunk of ice in it is it’s a nice it’s, it’s a little bit more aggressive than like gentlemen jack is gentlemen jack is incredibly smooth and just has a nice even mellow flavor. But makers 46 has a little bit of a kick to it. You can really taste some Corn in it. Mm hmm. The sweetness the sweetness of the corn comes through a lot harder than in gentlemen jack. Yeah, it’s it is a permanent fixture in my in my bird mini ski.

Nice. I’m skipping drinks tonight I have to I have to run out right after the show so gotta be responsible. Sorry. later on. I might drink a Tequila Sunrise though.

You understand what that means?

That I have to drink twice as much

that I have to drink twice as much. Well I have to keep the show balanced if you’re not drinking I have to drink twice as much.

That’s okay you drink twice as much and then I’ll be the smart one in the show.

is gonna hurt I’m going to give a shout out over to a friend of the show Adam for I apologize on the name of Bob getting that a little off as usual because I want just once I would like somebody to be like my name is john smith. I can okay

I can handle but it’s pronounced Aronofsky.

Adam reached out to us a few weeks ago to share a tool with us that he built and I got to look at it and you’ve maybe seen this on some you know some of the news sites I know it has definitely made the rounds but it’s colors dot law lol yeah it’s kind it’s a it’s a nice little fun yeah break so to speak it it’s a it’s overly descriptive color palettes so you go there and he’s just he’s generated I don’t know how he’s generated these you know based on something or using you know a tool to pull like triads or something like that out but the

color palettes are widget nice though. Like they like

they they are I think from a color theory standpoint, do you That’s why I say like he did something to generate these that all of them are

like super, like, super visually pleasing. The color names are hilarious. There’s like four Rogers nice blue scrubby, pale rose, jerking grapefruit, posttraumatic dark blue gray.

I’ve got two here that I think are two of my favorites. So there’s one it’s a a Gio tropic dark Aqua Marine, stone light green, blue, and ornate water blue. And then there’s another one that’s a integrative pig pink. Multi screen baby pink, and eerie dark gray. The multi screen baby pink, I think wins it for me though.

Those are awesome. Yeah, it’s really funny.

Am I right here? I’m looking at this. Yeah, I am. Right. They the sizes of them changed to like he’s he varies the swatch widths. Yes. Just kind of with you know, with a certain amount of random randomness to it there. It looks like there are upper and lower bounds but visually, it’s not the same over and over and over. There’s a lot of deep it’s like there’s a lot A lot of detail here that, you know, he clearly used some kind of description generator, you know, adjective noun, and then the actual color is kind of thing. For a simple thing that doesn’t do a lot like I can respect the work that went into generating this, I think, yeah, I think I can if I went to his website, which is just Adam for calm, a da MFH, er calm, he’s actually done three other tools that are very similar to this. And I got those. And they are also just very cool little exercises in you know, like color art.

The this the CSS Mondrian one. If you don’t know who pa Mondrian is, but you’ve ever looked at like modern art. You’ll recognize the style. It’s really, really distinctive. It’s like a bunch of like, very shaped grid with red, blue, yellow and white squares. Yeah,

boxes and rectangles, you know, are harsh black lines up and down and left. Write with a primary color palette. So whites blues, yellows, green or red. Red, yellow, blue white. Yeah. Like like pure Red, Yellow Blue, right? Yeah. White coloring those boxes. What

would you say you would see like, Oh, yeah, I’ve seen art like that.

Yeah, you’ll know the art. But it’s random, right? You go in there and you can refresh. And it’s it’s generating a random with random Mondrian with CSS,

right? Did you see the Pantone color of the earth?

Yeah. Okay, so this is another one that I kind of, and I think this stuff is all in GitHub, and I should go. I don’t maybe he does this by hand. I could, I guess I could see him doing this by hand because he’s only doing one a year. He pulled the last two decades of the Pantone color of the year. And he’s listed them out on this page. Then went out and found the imagery to go with those colors. Yeah, so 2020 Classic blue. And he’s paired three images of it. One of them is like a What is that? a banana tree? Yeah, it looks like that on a holodeck. I don’t know what that image is but it’s but like a hazard and like a dark blue light. Yeah. And then Kanye with that’s not Kanye, but it’s kind of it kind of looks like it on my monitor. But with like a blue light on his face and then like a dude in a space helmet on a planet looking at like 12 suns, but again cast in this blue light, right? Again, it’s just kind of a cool exercise and color identification and balance 2016 they did two colors, serenity and rose quartz. And so his images balanced both of those colors.

That was that one is really cool. I just really love I don’t know I just love seeing like the images are all very different, but the color is clearly represented in the image. And it’s you just you really got to see it to understand exactly what we’re saying. But it just looks cool.

Yeah, he’s got one other tool, the glitch art generator. It’s a glitch art generator. I don’t know what to say about that. It’s still it’s also very cool. Go check this stuff out. And Adam, if you’re listening, Thanks a ton for sending it to us. If anybody else has built something that they would love for us to give a shout out to, by all means, send that we do read all those messages and dig through them. Sometimes I get a

lot of if you made something and you’re not using it to make money. It’s just like a cool thing that you made. Like, that’s the stuff I’m interested in seeing. Like, I’m not as interested in like Hawking products here.

This is it. You know, this demonstrates you know, thinking right problem solving. It’s a great way to demonstrate your skills if you’re trying to build a portfolio. We’ve talked about that so many times. Go definitely go check us out. Obviously links are in the show. notes for that, or look for the tweet on on Twitter about it. And I’ll, I’ll tag him in that as well so that Unknown Speaker folks can go check it out. Yeah.

So, as of February, January, there’s an article over at reformed. org that cites I think it’s the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or one of those that noted that only about 7% of civilian workers in the United States roughly 9.8 million of the nation’s 140 million civilian workers have access to a flexible workplace benefit or telework. And I say that because there’s a couple of key notes there. First of all, a lot of places will offer this flexible work. Place. That doesn’t mean you work remotely full time, it means a day a week, you can work from home or something like that. So that’s being included in this. The number of people who work remotely full time is incredibly small.

A lot of times flexible workplace policies are just like the employer either kind of testing the waters of what would it look like if we had people working remotely? And can we handle that, or also just employers recognizing that sometimes you know, you have stuff that you have to take care of it’s outside of the office, and it’s just this way, you don’t have to miss day work or anything to do it or use PTO.

There’s there’s been a lot of growth in the field over the last five years, there’s a 44% growth and the number of people who are like straight up working remotely. That’s a stat from flex jobs. I’ll throw some links to this stuff if you ever want to reference it. But that still only amounts to about 3.9 million people. So Compare so that leaves about 6 million of those other people have just access to it occasionally. The The reason I bring this up is as a consequence of COVID-19, obviously a lot of organizations have switched to working from home. According to the Bureau 29% of Americans can work from home. That’s about 46.8 million. Yeah, so already almost 41 million. Yeah.

But that’s, I did the math earlier. I didn’t just do that off the top my

head. I’m trusting you on this. Like, I know, you can write some mean Ruby code on the calculator the same.

The other thing too, is that saying the 29% of Americans can work from home. It’s not saying that 29% of Americans are working from home right now. Because a lot of people who are remote friendly workers, you know, are out of work right now. Just because the Economy slowed down. Yeah. So it’s probably some number less than 29%. I, if I had to guess I would say probably 15 to 20%.

Yeah, I know. And I was kicking myself because I actually seen a stat that kind of estimated how many people are working from home right now. And unfortunately, I could not scrounge that number back up. So let’s, let’s pretend like it’s the upper bound of 41 million for the moment because it may even be like you’d normally say a teacher can’t work from home. But they are, but they are, you know, sort of adapted to it. But when things go back to normal, it’s not like they are going to continue to have a teach from home day, most likely. The thing that we want to get into first and foremost, I want to just say, obviously, working remotely is not for everyone. Even though it seems like a lot of people are doing it, turn on the TV and you see all the news people you know, sitting in their little studies or whatever it You know, everybody talked to is talking about zoom and this and that. I know it seems like a lot of people are doing it. One big thing I want to start off with and this is a sticky point for me semantically, I do not like the phrase working from home. I work remotely.

You know, when you first brought this up, I had never considered the difference between the two. But I get it. It’s there’s, it’s a really subtle difference.

working from home is casual. Yeah, working from home is what you do when you do it. Once a week, or once a month. Yes, yes. What I and I’ve taken a little bit of sadistic pleasure in some of these conversations with people because over the years, and we should mention, right like between the two of us, I’ve worked from home for stress. I already did it to myself. I’ve worked remotely for over eight years, and you had two or three years

full time. remotely two years. We did some flex for about a year or two before that.

And so the reason that I get picky about this and why get put off by the phrase working from home is because whenever you have a conversation before everything happened before all of all the COVID-19 stuff, you would, you’d say, Oh, yeah, well, I work for a company that’s based out of Boston. I do all the web development. I live here. And they’re like, Oh, you work from home. That was so nice. And it It wasn’t that it was a condescending tone. But it was sort of this sing song kind of like, I don’t know what the sentiment is that I’m trying to apply to that but it was definitely a you’re taking a little less seriously. I think

I could see that. It’s it’s easy, like when you don’t have that option. It’s easy to be like, Yeah, exactly. To work from home. Must be so nice.

It’s used almost like a like a project. IV that yeah, it’s just this idea that Oh, that must be so nice. And my answer was always the same, always the same. So we’d be like, loving, that must be so nice. And I’m like, try it.

Yeah, it’s, um, the first six months is great. And then after that, it gets to be kind of hard. The isolating isolation aspect of it is something that I don’t think like, I knew about it before I started doing it, but I don’t think I really appreciated how much of the thing that would be.

Yeah. And I’m not gonna lie. I have taken a little bit of sadistic pleasure in seeing people’s Facebook posts about like, how much they hate having to work from home right now, because it makes me feel a little validated in this idea. And it’s not. I don’t say that to be mean to anybody else. The My point is, working from home is hard. And it takes balance and it takes a lot of things that we’re going to talk about here in this episode to do it successfully. But more importantly, it is simply not right for everybody. It’s just like learning. Everybody gets excited in college, when they think about, I’ll just take all these online courses, and I don’t have to get up and go to that 8am lecture. The problem is, a lot of people learn really badly that way. They need guidance, they need that lecture hall, they need that structure and format in order to learn effectively, and it’s not, you know, that’s not a bad thing. It’s not like a bad trait or quality. It’s just a difference in how people learn. And the same thing exists with how people work.

It’s one of those things like when when someone lives in, like, a tropical area or something and you’re just like, oh, it must be nice to be by the beach all the time. And then like if someone actually lives there, I’m sure there’s reasons why that’s not fun. But it just seems like it would be fun because you go there for vacation.

Have you seen the mosquitoes? I like that metaphor. So first and foremost, I want to talk about first and foremost, you have to take it seriously. And that is part of why I like distinguishing between working from home and working remotely. Right when I say I am working remotely, it lends a different kind of gravitas to the way that I approach it, as opposed to me just saying, I just work from home. I don’t sit in my recliner in the living room with the TV on while I’m working. You know, I am not up, you know, just working on my phone, walking the dog and stuff like I am in my office, at my desk, doing my work. And part of taking it seriously. And you’ll hear this a lot is you’re going to work. You get up, get dressed, take your shower, get ready. Like if you work

as a journalist or something, then getting dressed is going to be a little bit more like how you would normally get dressed. Because you might have to have your recordings broadcast to a larger audience. You don’t want to be wearing like An old college sweatshirt or something? Um, me personally, like, I think it’s important like yes wear pants, dress, like get dressed in out of your pajamas, whatever you might wear, like I try to wear, like what I would wear if I went to the store or something. I’m just going to be in public around other people. That’s the kind of clothes that I like to wear. I don’t I don’t do khakis and a button down when I’m working remotely. I just it’s I don’t find that comfortable,

right. Yeah, I’m not getting up and putting a suit on in the morning, right? I am right. I’m throwing some jeans on. I got socks on. You know, the one thing eight years I’ve been doing this and one thing nobody can ever accuse me of is standing up in front of my webcam and forgetting that I am in my boxers like that’s not a thing that happens. Yeah, I can’t do that I have to get up.

Don’t. What you don’t want to do. I suppose the opposite would be don’t bring your work laptop into bed and then just like slap your alarm and then open your laptop up and start working like don’t I Unknown Speaker don’t you wouldn’t have you wouldn’t have some structure.

The other part of taking seriously is maintaining office hours. Mm hmm. I start work at nine. And I work until five. Yeah, just like I would if I was going into the office. And sometimes I start a little earlier than that. 830 or so I usually jump on but you want to maintain that offsides? Because it’s about structure and routine, structure and routine as part of what makes working remotely successful. Right. And if you aren’t taking your hours seriously, and you’re sleeping, and I will admit I sleep in much later than the average person. My office is only you know, 30 feet from my bedroom. But that’s purely a logistical choice.

I will sometimes if I can work it into my day where I’m still getting my full days of work around it. There’s times that I will take a 20 or 30 minute power nap in the middle of the day because it lets my brain kind of reboot and clears my head up and I do better work after Words.

Let me ask you this because that’s that that’s an interesting point. Do you do that in your office? No, I go out, I usually do it on the couch because the couch is uncomfortable enough that I’ll fall asleep for a long time. But it’s comfortable enough that I can like, hit that bottom point of falling asleep and losing track of time. And then rebound out. There’s a psychological reason I mentioned that you don’t want your brain to associate your office with sleep. Right as then it will encourage you to fall asleep at my desk or you know, in front of your computer and you don’t want that like that.

And vice versa. Don’t work in your bed because you don’t want your brain to associate being awake. Yes, being in bed.

Yeah, that actually is an incredibly good point. And for a number of not just because of the association, but because you know, there’s all this stuff about light theory. And right you know, the way blue light triggers your brain and stuff that Yeah, you can actually break your ability to fall asleep in bed the way you should normally go about it. So,

yeah, and that’s all about maintaining your hours, right? I maintain my hours in my office, I maintain my hours in my bedroom. What what are the things that when you take lunch, take lunch, don’t make lunch and work from your desk, in your office or whatever, you know, like actually close your laptop or sign out of your computer or whatever, and sit down and actually eat a lunch separately from your work. So the mental association with your workplace is already getting blurred a little bit with your homeplace. And it’s, it’s important to kind of set good boundaries on Okay, I’m exiting work mode and now I’m in home mode. I’m going to eat some lunch and everything. And then when you’re done eating, then go back to work.

I will readily admit that I break that a lot. But you are right. I’m not saying that to disagree with you. All right.

I have definitely broken it myself. But like when you break it, like be aware that like be aware of what you’re doing when you do

that. And I very much value like I, I before everything went to hell, I would go out to eat at least twice a week, which sucks because it’s more expensive to do that. But yeah, it was valuable to me to get out of the house for that 30 minutes to an hour and go eat somewhere or go to the gym, I would go to the gym a lot over my work hour. Mm hmm. So, but this all leads into the next point, which is to know your space. What do you mean? When I started this job, I lived in a 952 square foot house, okay, it was basically a cracker box. And it was the kind of cracker box that you could basically see the rest of the house from any point of the house you were in. Okay, if you were in the kitchen, you could see through the door and into the living room. If you were in the bedroom, you could see into the dining room. Right. My problem was my office was right off the dining room. And as a result, if I was in the living room, I could see my office. Right and I have discovered You know, this idea of like my office now that I’m sitting Right now recording this episode, this is my office, I refer to it as now, I will sit in here and play video games or something as well once in a while. But this is a workspace. This is and this room, you can’t see this room from the living room, you can’t see this room from the bedroom, when I leave it. I can mentally disconnect from this space and enter my living space. And my living space is not where I work. I don’t take my laptop into the living room to work.

Having that again, having that boundary is really important. It is incredibly important. What happens if you don’t have a good boundary is that you start to get a little stir crazy because your work days are at home. And then you’re not work time is also in the same place. And then it starts to feel like you never leave. And it’s just weird.

It was just it was not mentally healthy. For me to have that old house where I couldn’t escape work, I was always thinking about work. You don’t have to be perfect at all of it, though to be successful at it, right. But you do have to be aware and know when it’s time to turn off some of those things and, and separate, and you can’t do that at all if you don’t know your spaces and know where your boundaries are. Right. So the next part is I kind of fudge these together, but they are a little different. But one is knowing your ergonomics. And the other one is knowing your quality of life. The quality of life thing factors into all of this taking it seriously knowing your space, the work life balance.

Again, that gets back to that whole structural nature of working remotely. You have to you have to build out you have to recognize my my needs here, as working in a home office are going to be different than what they would be if I was just doing something casually because I’m expected to work a certain level of performance at a regular interval. So you want to set things up like that, like you would do if you’re making a workplace or like an office.

So to start off with like, ergonomics and and the ergonomics also this is just kind of a technology talk but one is if you’re going to work remotely and this this came up because of COVID-19 you know you can’t find a Nintendo Switch right now. Yeah, yes. You know what else people weren’t able to find for a solid few weeks?

Uh, I’m gonna guess either webcams or microphones

Yeah. webcams. Yeah. Good webcams were gone. Yeah, because everybody knew they were going to be switching to zoom and while laptops usually have a webcam, they aren’t generally very good. The webcam is important if you’re going to be you know, on in front of people for a while I’m even I have a good webcam and I don’t love the quality of my webcam. It’s a Logitech C 920. I think which is a good, good webcam like it’s a good high end webcam.

Looks good, perfect. 60 bucks, right? 5060 bucks. Yes.

probably somewhere in there.

I think a better a better microphone is more important.

Yeah. So interesting point on that. I mentioned here as we were talking that I’m recording this episode in my office, so I’ve got sound deadening behind my monitors and stuff. But this microphone, I use a Shure SM seven be one thing that inevitably happens, especially when I’m talking to like new folks at work or something is they always say like, that’s a big microphone. You sound really good on that. Mm hmm. And I explain, yeah, you know, I do some shows and some voice acting and stuff like that. And I figure I’ve invested in this equipment, and this is the only way you get to interact with me. It is worth my time and effort to make sure that this time you spend with me is enjoyable and that you’re not listening to Do me through a tiny little pewter microphone or laptop mic

in different than just enjoyable just when you’re working remotely and communicating over a video or audio conference. Being able to understand the other person is so incredibly important. Yes. And I I’ve been in many meetings where you know, there was either Polycom or something else being used. And then when everybody in the room was talking on it, it’s impossible to hear anyone, because there’s so much crosstalk and the audio fidelity is really crappy. If you have a good quality microphone, it makes the audio fidelity be a lot crisper and clearer to understand everyone what everyone’s saying, and that makes a world of difference. It absolutely does. Yeah. 100% and you don’t need either a Blue Yeti microphone, but I’m recording on and I think with the pop filter and the stands and everything, I think altogether was probably about 150 bucks or something. And

you don’t need all that like no,

you can use the regular desk stand

Yeah, you’ve got the pop filter and Stan because again you know we we try to take the development of the show seriously, but you could just stick the Blue Yeti on your desk and get to use blue Yeti and get the low end Yeti is 60 bucks I think and they make some like the snowball. Yeah, any of those like just for the purposes of remote working and and being on a conference call. You don’t need to spend $100 on a microphone, getting something decent us USB microphone, that’s all Yes. Yeah. And it’s well worth it and people will notice that’s the other that’s the other part of that is folks do notice when your audio quality is good. And yeah, and they take note of it. Yeah. The other thing that’s I think really important right is talking about the way your desk is set up. Yes. And I straight I use for what it’s worth on my screens. I run flux on them now full time. Yeah,

books is good, because I am blue spectrum stuff.

Yeah, cuz I Staring at a screen all day I used to use the gunner glasses Have you seen those? Yeah

Yellow Yellow tinted. Not even just the screen color but also having your screen at eye level height. If you’re using a laptop like my my Remote Jobs are always provide a laptop or something. Get a laptop riser they’re like 40 bucks on you get on Amazon or wherever else. And if you don’t have a laptop riser does get several thick books or phone books or whatever. stack it up so that you can look at your screen with only moving your eyes around without having to tilt your neck at all. Neck pain will creep up on you over a long period of time and you’ll suddenly be like Why does my back and neck hurt?

I know these things and I still to this day sit here and I realize how much damage I’ve done to myself. Hmm I’ve gone so far as I don’t just use a laptop riser. My desk is a sit stand desk, nice motorized so I can literally hit a button and raise my computer to the exact height that is comfortable for me. In a given situation,

if you can switch between sitting and standing, that’s even better. That’s really good for your, for your back. And for your legs and your hips. I have a wooden desk that has two levels on it. And it’s, I can set it up to tear it down in about 20 seconds. And I can either like put the laptop at eye level, or I can stand, I can put it up on the next level up and stand up and have it at eye level and then put the keyboard where the laptop was,

given the cost of these kind of desks. I would say, you know, if you’re just working remotely occasionally, working from home, you probably don’t need to invest in that. But if you’re going to work remotely as your career, it’s these steps are worth it the chair. Oh, yeah, I dumped $600 on my chair.

Yeah, I have. I have a really shitty chair that I’m sitting on right now. It’s like the kinda bite officemax for like 60 bucks or something.

Yeah, I know. I gotta get it out of the show constantly.

Sorry. I’ll get a better one. One of these things. But don’t don’t sit on a couch. couches are bad for your back anyways, but also like if you’re sitting on a couch, you’re gonna be like craning your neck downwards, and recliners

are comfortable but they make terrible work chairs,

right? sit at a table. If you don’t, if you don’t have an office, I mean, having a dedicated office in your house is kind of a, you know, a luxury. If you don’t have that, then wherever you’re working, like try to make it a flat surface like a table that has a chair in front of it. Yeah, and my chiropractor would tell me sit at the edge of your chair like away from the back and make sure that your knees are lower than your hips. That’s really important for your hip joints. And also for your lower back and it will help ensure that your back is like staying straight. You can really jack up your back if in your neck if you don’t have good posture.

Yeah. And we alluded to this already. Get up, go outside, walk around. Hmm do it a couple times a day. Take 10 minutes. 15 minutes. Take your smoke break basically, the one thing about working remotely is if you vanished for 10 or 15 minutes probably nobody’s going to notice but you need and it’s it goes along with this idea of having the sit stand desk a little bit. You need to get up once in a while and when you are working in an office, if you really think about how many times you get up and you walk around the office or go you know to the door next door or whatever, if you’re in a factory, you’re up constantly moving around, you take for granted how much you move around until you are in your home, sitting in your office. And just at your computer all day. So yeah, if you got a smartwatch or your phone or whatever set an alarm 10 o’clock, get up, go lunch, get up, go three o’clock Get up, you’ve got a dog, perfect. Take the dog, go for a quick walk out in your front yard or something that’s I’ve been trying to do that more lately.

You could also if you have a glass of water that holds about 12 fluid ounces like roughly the volume of a can of soda Just fill it up with water. And then just keep it next to your things. You drink your water while you’re working. And then when it gets empty, you have to walk over to the kitchen or whatever to fill it up.

That should be going to the water cooler.

Yeah, same thing, and it’ll get you on the right. Probably the right about our rhythm there.

Yeah. Then the last part of this is this work life balance thing. And you do have to know when five o’clock comes. You are done working? Yeah, generally speaking. Yeah, I know that’s different for everybody depending on what your responsibilities are, but for the normal person, when works done, work needs to be done. You need to be able to understand you know, this idea of the separation between where your workspaces your life spaces, you know, having an office I don’t have to see when I’m in the rest of my house, that is a work life balance decision for me. Okay,

so there’s this meme that you may have seen. It says, tired of looking at bad screen, want to go home and look at good screen. And it’s the first part is like a guy sitting in an office desk looking his computer and this Second one is him sitting on like his couch or bed looking at a laptop. I mean, you know, the the joke there is obvious, but just make sure that your bad screen or a good screen or at the same screen. Yeah, I think is the important part there. Yeah.

Well, I work remotely. My whole team certainly doesn’t and are like our part of the company. We’ve got about 30 folks who are in our staffing technology group as a whole. And most of them work in one of our offices. As part of our transition to all of us working remotely during this time. Our company has basically set up at five o’clock every day on the calendar, there’s an hour happy hour meeting that you can go to, you don’t have to go to it every day. You don’t have to go to it at all. But it’s it’s there to give you some camaraderie and help you have that casual time with your co workers that you miss by not being in the office together. You know, remembering that we So human beings are social creatures being locked up in your house all day working from home. And I could go on the psychology about that for a whole lot longer than this episode is going to allow. But you know, that aspect of it is about helping that work life balance because you still feel engaged with those people so that when you are finished and you leave your work for the day, you still feel like you’ve had some of that social fulfillment that you’ve been missing.

That’s, that’s a really good point. I if you have a workplace that’s remote friendly, but when I when I was working in bold Penguin, they were really really great about fostering a really good distributed culture. They would always find ways to make sure that the distributed team felt included. We used high five for video conferencing, which was like really high fidelity video and audio. You know, if there’s ever a discussion we’d you know, with two people or three or four or five or however Hop on a video call, getting the FaceTime with your coworkers is really important.

Yeah, yeah. And I’ve got to talk to a lot of people that I don’t normally talk to either. You know, in my normal meetings, I interact with the people I’m working with directly my stakeholders, my co workers, but I say our team or our entire crew is very big. And a lot of them are like, our ML guys are brilliant dudes, but their work has nothing to do with what I’m doing. I’m a front end developer. They’re building products for the future of our company and all this stuff. They’re incredibly smart guys, and they’re incredibly fun to sit down and talk with to. It’s it’s a very casual, but it really does help the claustrophobic nature of remote working, because that is that is a real thing. It is a very real thing.

Also the dehumanizing aspect of working remotely too. It’s it’s really easy to I don’t know, they just sort of feel like a robot. When you know you just you open your computer, you type stuff into it. Well, it just, you know, texts in a box, getting to see other people’s faces and things and other other humans and have real human conversations. It’s, I’m sure that some kind of name for the psychological effect happening, but it just it makes you feel like a person again.

So let’s get into distractions because that’s one of the big problems and one of the big differences between working remotely versus working from home. When you work from home, you deal with distractions. We’ve seen we’ve all seen the little funny clips on YouTube about the kids walking into the newscasters room and getting pulled out and like distractions happen and distractions take on a lot of forms. I’m not going to go into all of them, but I’ll highlight a couple one. Do not turn on the TV in your office.

No, don’t do that.

I actually have one I have at my battle station here. In a worst case scenario, I could have four screens going at once. One of those For though, is just a monitor I have set up to the side that has a fire stick in it. Okay, but it is black until five o’clock, right at five o’clock then if I’m in here doing something or playing a game, I might throw Netflix on it or YouTube on it or something like that, but it is it’s not up to my computer, but it’s also never on before five o’clock.

Study studies after study have shown that we suck at multitasking.

Yeah, and TV is something that draws not just your ears, but your eyes. Yeah, music that’s why people can listen to music and work, right. We can listen to the audio or listen to podcasts.

Even though interestingly, podcast listening across the board has dropped off during this period, which I found really fascinating that everybody has seen a huge drop off in their listenership. It’s worth getting a good pair of noise cancelling headphones. To deal with distractions. I recommend the Bose quietcomfort series with Active Noise Cancelling. You can either get the Bluetooth Wireless kinda cost a little bit more or the wired kind, but you have to put batteries in them. It’s a little triple A’s. Totally worth it. They they are so good at blocking out pretty much everything around you and the sound quality’s fantastic. I’ve got a pair of Sony noise cancelling headphones, but I really liked the Bose ones better.

This episode of The Drunken UX Podcast brought to you by nuCloud.

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