Tips for Improving Your Work From Home Experience
Collaborative work is imperative to the design industry - without it, projects become impossible. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and everyone was told to work from home, it understandably made a lot of people in the industry uneasy.
These are unprecedented times for all, so we have compiled a few tips on ways to stay productive and connected during this time, hopefully making the transition to working from home a little less daunting.
Start working with the Cloud
Begin by moving everything you can to the cloud. There are multitudes of applications and programs out there that can assist you with this. Try the Morpholio Trace - Sketch CAD app which allows design specifiers to continue the creative process with the ability to easily share and collaborate on ideas. Archify is also a fantastic tool to help you stay creative, and by allowing you to search, save and specify products, you can create and share your vision with tailored design tools. Being able to access your work from anywhere is important whether or not you are working from home, and there are many design systems, such as BIM360 and Autodesk AutoCAD LT, that actually include this feature. Make sure that you don't forget to set up a centralised file-sharing system - this can be an incredibly easy process with programs such as Google Drive, Dropbox or One Drive.
Whether it is a client or a teammate, it is essential that you stay connected and keep communication lines open. Without collaboration, nothing gets done. There are programs now that allow you to do this with ease, two of the most popular being Zoom, for face to face video conferencing, and Google Hangouts, a simple chat function that encourages fast and effective communication. Although having a chat function is fantastic, make sure that you are also utilising face to face interactions. Mark Jensen, Principal of JENSEN Architects in San Fransisco, supports this by stating, "We all know that in terms of communication, email is terrible. Voice is better, and in video you can see smiles and frowns." Without a face to face connection, there is a higher chance of miscommunication. By holding regular video meetings, not only does it assist in ensuring a smooth-running project with clients, but it is also essential in maintaining a sense of community among colleagues. Slack is another great communication program for interoffice communication.
Having a Dedicated Workspace
Having a healthy work-life balance is already a struggle for many people in the design industry, and the lines can become increasingly blurred when your home becomes your office. It is in times like this it becomes imperative to ensure that you have a separation between your work and personal life - it is easy to forget about balance and this can be a slippery slope. One way to maintain a healthy work-life balance is to set up a dedicated workspace. Implement a rule that allows you to only do work-related tasks in this space, just like you shouldn't work in the spaces you use to relax. You should also set yourself dedicated working times, just like you would have in the office. Not only will this help create a balance between work and personal life, but it will also increase your productivity. When setting up your workspace make sure you keep ergonomics in mind, ensuring that you have a supportive chair and prop up your screen so that it is at eye level. If possible, having a work area with access to natural light can also help improve your performance.
Stay Healthy and Active
Exercise is vital, and possibly more important now than ever. Working from home means no more coffee breaks with colleagues or walking over the road to grab lunch, and when you are working from home it is incredibly easy to stay at your desk for eight hours without taking a break or getting outside. This all comes back to maintaining balance. It is good practice to establish a beginning and end to each workday by doing 5-10 minutes of exercise, whether it be taking a quick walk around the block or even just doing a quick stretch in your living room. Not only will exercise keep you physically healthy, it can also improve concentration, productivity, and helps to reduce stress and keep your mind clear.
Lastly, make sure that you are following the directions from the Australian Government and the Department of Health.
It is important to look after yourself, so keep actively working on maintaining a healthy balance of work, relaxation, exercise, and (virtual) socialising. Remember, communication is vital!
You can find updates from the ACA on COVID-19 and how it affects the design industry here.