Pandemic Office: Remote-ish Life

We are nearing the year and a half mark of full-time remote WFH and I am still up in the air about how to decorate my home office.

Like many people, there are the makings of luring people back into the traditional office space for my organization and also, like many people, there is still the reality of balancing my remote time with our child’s virtual learning environment needs. The end result is my spare bedroom is masquerading as a home office since we did not move forward with planning a second child and this space is still having an identity crisis.

On a daily basis, I am absolutely grateful to have an at-home workspace. The spartan space is still preferable for me as an introvert. For months now, I’ve verified debt situations for my employer and it’s easier to do when I’m not crowded around a bunch of other people who are on the phone for the bulk of their work. I need quiet one does not often find in a cubicle farm.

Being “stuck” at home has its moments of being a godsend. I feel more proficient at my work, because I encounter less interruptions. I feel more alert because I do not “arrive” at the office rundown from the stress and annoyance of commuting. My budget also appreciates the reduced spending in transportation the days I did drive and more formal clothing (those days I did dress up). I am more ‘me’ being at home the amount of time I have been.

Now that I am back to the reality life will at some point be a blend of in-person and remote work, I am trying to find what parts of each I want to cater to and the amount of uncertainty around both presents a challenge.

I’ve never cared all that much to decorate my in-person work environment. Most of the times, I realize I just need to find a better way to keep my papers and daily work more organized. Typically, I use a legal pad to run through some of the math calculations I do and then I have a team Excel spreadsheet so everyone knows how overpayments are looking. If I learn to do some forecasting, like I showed my boss last week, it would help if I learn to schedule days on when to look and see if my accounting counterpart might have some ideas on how to help me better understand the process. Debts aren’t something I really ever expected to learn at my job, but the Department of Veterans Affairs changed their tuition overpayment policy January 5th of this year. The Isakson and Roe Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020 made it so tuition overpayments are no longer a student responsibility, but a school responsibility and it has been a bit of a rocky road watching the VA figure out the debt letter process and quality controlling their debt letters.

Something I think might help bring some calm to my work life is a planner. Last year didn’t make much sense to use one. Our perpetual Groundhog Day lifestyle necessitated few reminders, mostly just to pay bills on time. For my work life, I use my Outlook calendar a little, but I always like a tangible product best. My feeling on this matter is that a lot of my enjoyment of tangible paper products is rooted in childhood. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and I think I was probably 5th or 6th grade when we finally got AOL and learned to use computers more. School shopping was a big adventure to start anew and I had to use a weekly/monthly planner when I started at Coronado Middle School. While I’ve lapsed at regularly using such a product, I still feel joy in having one available. In previous jobs, I’ve learned though there is such as thing as “too much” in an organizer. I had a beautiful leather bound one with spots for business cards, telephone contacts, weekly, daily, and monthly organizing, and notes. It was too bulky and the lines to record info too small for my preferences.

This slim design one from Day Designer is rather nice, but I’m wondering now if it’s going out-of-style as few were left available at my local Target when I dropped in the other day. Honestly, I just want something somewhat flexible to organize my life without feeling like I have to over-organize my life.

Regarding creating a cozy home office, I feel less challenged. The bigger thing at the moment is waiting to slowly craft the office of my dreams that also functions as a good hangout space for our daughter. She loves more bohemian girly girl things, regardless of the maintenance associated with the product, whereas I like to look for items that are more durable and/or muted so they can function in any room.

Rug courtesy of Anthropologie

A few things I hope to add to liven up the walls (Both are Target finds.)

Office shelving will be a solution to tackle at some point, if we do not decide to bring our small Crate&Barrel bookcase back upstairs. That thing has survived several moves and is still not showing too many signs of wear, although it might be kind of nice to give it an upgrade and paint it a vivid color.

Before we tackle more of the fun stuff though, I am in need of a drafting chair. I bought a sit stand desk from workfromhomedesks last year and the metal countertop height stool I am using does not give enough support. I will research a few different websites to find something that will work. This area is one of the hardest design choices for me because I don’t want something that feels too much like the traditional office, but I recognize I cannot throw just any chair in here. I sit in this space more than any other room in the house and therefore solid back support is a must. I am just that old where function over style is more important!

More to follow another day.

-Cheryl

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