Remote work has been both a blessing and a curse for many people over the past year. It’s helped companies stay in business and employees keep their jobs, but it’s also been a lonely, frustrating experience for many thrown into a situation they never expected.
That’s because remote work changes more than just where and how you work — it also alters the way you interact with your home. When the place you relax also becomes your office (not to mention school, fitness center, delivery warehouse, and much more), it forces you to rethink your priorities when it comes to your living space. It’s a change that takes time and effort to adjust to, even a year into the pandemic.
For many people, remote work will remain part of their lives in some form or fashion. So it’s time to bite the bullet and create an environment that better accommodates your work and personal lives for the present and years to come. Here are four ways you can harness technology to do just that.
1. Foster new ways to connect.
One of the drawbacks of remote work is how easy it is to become isolated. This was the case before the pandemic, and it will continue to be true once this is all in the rearview mirror. That’s why it’s important to find ways to connect online that can transfer over into in-person meetups (when it’s safe to do so, of course).
Many companies offer chat channels on apps like Slack or Microsoft Teams, where people can socialize and make plans to meet up for non-work-related conversation. Team-building events and in-person retreats are also something to consider taking advantage of if you find yourself getting too comfortable in your pajama pants and want to re-engage with your co-workers.
There are also options outside of work. If you live in a modern rental community or have an active neighborhood association, there may be online message boards where events are posted and people can get to know one another. Meetup is also a great resource to find people who share a passion or hobby with you. Whatever your strategy for keeping connected, just remember working from home does not mean you have to become a hermit, even if you’re an introvert.
2. Invest in smart devices for safety and convenience.
If you’re spending all day every day in your home, then you might want to consider making a few upgrades that can help you stay safe, save money, and maximize convenience. Even small upgrades can offer some much-needed peace of mind.
For single-family rentals, connected locks and video doorbells, for instance, let you keep track of who’s at the door and grant access to the right people without ever having to leave your desk (or couch). In multifamily environments, a connected intercom and a connected access control platform allow for digital keys that create a seamless curb-to-couch experience for residents, delivery workers, staff members, or vendors with complete event history.
Smart thermostats, meanwhile, can save you up to almost 25% on utility bills while keeping you comfortable in your favorite work-from-home attire. Considering that you’re likely using more energy than ever working from home, this kind of saving can make a real difference in your bank account.
3. Lean on digital assistants.
In an office environment, it can be easier to keep to a structured schedule. Often, a co-worker or an assistant might walk over and remind you if you have an upcoming call or they’re expecting a project on their desk by a certain time. Now, however, each person working from home has to act as their own administrative assistant, keeping track of every new to-do and appointment added to their schedule while also making sure their current tasks get done on time.
It can all be overwhelming, which is why now is the perfect time to take advantage of smart assistants. Through Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, you can schedule new and recurring appointments, perform quick research, play the news, create to-do lists on the fly, and send messages — all without lifting a finger. Let your smart assistant act as much like a real assistant as it can so you have one less thing to worry about yourself.
4. Optimize your internet connection.
One of the biggest obstacles to getting work done at home is dealing with an unreliable or slow internet connection. While some aspects of your connection may be out of your control, you can still take steps to shore up your connection. Chief among these is to upgrade your router.
If you’re leasing your router from your ISP or just haven’t upgraded in a few years, chances are that you could see a sizeable boost in speed and reliability from a modern router. Wi-Fi protocols have continued to improve in range and capacity over the years, edging closer and closer to the speed and reliability of wired connections.
Mesh routers can extend your connection throughout your home and avoid the interference caused by materials in the walls. A relatively simple upgrade like this can do wonders in reducing the friction in your workday.
Outside of upgrading your router, check what high-speed internet packages are available in your area, and look for something that’s at least 50 Mbps download speed and 10 Mbps upload speed. If you live in a rural area or have only one broadband provider to work with, you might have to wait a little bit for 5G-based home internet or satellite services like Starlink, but the good news is faster internet is on the horizon.
Working from home will always have its advantages and disadvantages, but there are steps you can take to make sure the pros outnumber the cons. By taking advantage of modern technology and making social connections where you’re able, you can create a remote work environment that’s both comfortable and productive.