Part 2: What I Learned About Working From Home While Reporting About Working From Home

In the past five months, I’ve reported extensively on working from home. Thriving in this situation is hard, but there have been some positive aspects to it. Here are some of my biggest takeaways:

So much excellent programming is now online. Forget painstaking rollouts and years of strategic vision meetings. Companies are throwing their services online in a mass act of crisis innovation. For example, the Kripalu Center, a leader in yoga- and mindfulness-based education, was previously accessible only if you went to Stockbridge, Mass. Now it’s available anywhere for $19.99 per month. The L.A. Dance Project app offers great classes for kids and adults for $9.99 a month, and you don’t have to be in Los Angeles.

Co-workers are so much more open. Colleagues who played it cool now start work meetings with comments such as, “I’m struggling to educate my kids / care for my elderly parents / be less depressed.” Connecting with co-workers requires emotional disclosure, and this development is particularly enjoyable for freelancers who have weathered years of just-the-facts interactions.

Lavishing attention on loved ones frees you. “Start your day with quality time with your loved ones,” says Joanne Cleaver, a Michigan-based content and communications consultant. “If you are a caregiver, when you have devoted time and attention to your most important priority, you show them that they are important—and you give yourself permission to concentrate on work thereafter. This strategy has worked for me while raising three daughters, and now, helping my mother.”

Human needs have entered the workday. Pre-pandemic: Wake up, exercise, commute, work, attend professional events—then repeat, all the while praying someone might cancel. Now: Your Slack away message says you’re “running an errand,” aka napping, biking, or playing on the floor with a toddler. We knew that hurling the human body across time and space during the day uses up a lot of energy. And while living through a pandemic is hard, certain stresses have receded.

On a more prosaic level, working from home has turned our offices into test labs for all manner of new equipment. Here are my favorite additions to my setup:

UV sterilization. My UV sterilizer lives by the front door, so I can drop in keys, phones, and masks (be careful—repeated use can degrade an N95 mask). Coral UV Sterilizer and Dryer ($169)

Help for your feet. An under-the-desk foot massager can really help during long days at the computer. TheraFlow Dual Foot Massager Roller ($17)

Help for your back. I was skeptical about the Backbridge, but an editor swore by it. He was right. You drape yourself across it a couple times a day, and it stretches you out, making you feel better. Backbridge ($70)

More help for your back. I typed this article on a Gravity Balans by Varier chair, purchased because of the aforementioned back situation. Gravity Balans ($2,499)

Stronger Wi-Fi. Some extenders improve the speed of in-home internet, while others can provide service on expeditions down the block, into neighboring yards and parks, etc. TP-Link RE200 ($34) and TP-Link RE450 ($65)

A keyboard you love. You want a custom keyboard with that satisfying click-y feel; after all, you’re touching it for five to eight hours a day. Ergodox ($350, depending on customization)

Powering up. Kids + remote learning = screens everywhere. This charging station reins in the chaos. Prosumer’s Choice Bamboo 6 Device Charging Station ($35)

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