It’s been a scary, challenging week. Schools are extending their Spring Breaks for a week, there are no NBA games, no NHL games, and no Dallas Art Fair. At least one brokerage has shut down an office. Conferences are canceling left and right. New Rochelle, NY, is on lockdown with the National Guard enforcing. Museums closing. As of Friday, no more flights to or from Europe.
Experts are telling us to stay home, stay out of crowds larger than 20 people, wash hands, and practice health hygiene. Practice social distancing. We are now beginning to understand as we see what is happening in Italy and other European nations: COVID-19 is overtaxing their medical systems and leading to health care rationing. Too many sick patients, too many sick health care providers, and the system will collapse.
Therefore, it’s time to enjoy our home sweet homes, for work.
For us at CandysDirt.com, we have always worked from home. Slack is our digital newsroom. I have long believed that reporters should stay embedded in their fields, particularly real estate. We have 14 writers spread from East Dallas to Allen to Weatherford, and we are searching for writers in Rockwall and Waco. That way stories can be spotted organically, on the way to the grocery store, saving commute time and energy. I also feel it gives our writers more time for family.
Most real estate agents also work from home. They go into the office for motivational meetings or to meet clients and then they hit the road, looking at real estate. We have stories coming up of buyers who have never set foot in the properties they purchase.
According to Adweek, “Twitter told all 5,000 of its employees to work from home. Apple CEO Tim Cook sent out a memo encouraging office workers not to go in, and the company put in efforts to limit ‘human density’ at stores. The City of Seattle canceled meetings and told its 12,000-plus employees to follow the city’s new Alternative Work Arrangements COVID-19 Guidelines.”
By the way, at Northpark Mall, employees are holding doors so consumers do not have to touch them. And Central Market has stopped the foodie samples — smart decisions both. If my mom could put up with food rationing during World War II, I can give up my bread bites.
Then there are the travel restrictions. Some have contracted COVID-19 from a conference in Boston. Airplanes are so empty you can get your first class upgrades AND manage social distancing.
If you aren’t used to working from home, we can help. In fact, you might like it so much you opt to do it forever. Commuting is stressful and time-consuming, so working from home can add an extra hour or so to your day. No hunting for a parking space, either. But remote work can be isolating and full of distractions, too.
CandysDirt.com has always been a virtual newsroom, so we’ve got the hang of things. Here are 8 tips for working from home:
1. Yes, You Need a Home Office
Yes, you really do. Your own room or closet is preferable, but at the very least you need a desk. You need to be able to spread out and clutter without having to put it all up every night. A door to shut is a plus. And good cell reception, too. I do not recommend reclining on a sofa with your laptop. Sit up straight (or stand) at a desk, else you’ll soon need a chiropractor.
2. No, You Don’t Have to Answer the Door
The doorbell and telemarketers are real PITAs when you work from home. I do not answer our home phone unless I need a break and someone to torture, and I tell solicitors I work from home, please do not bother.
3. How to Work at Home With Kids
This is hard, I know but I don’t remember, so I turned to my team on Slack for tips:
“First of all, don’t feel bad if they get some screen time during the day. You’re not superwoman,” says executive editor Joanna England, who has worked remotely for nine years.
Second, boundaries are important when it comes to your kids. Let them know what it looks like when you need them to be silent. Have some signals or signs to use when they need to be quiet when you’re on a call, England says.
Third, it’s OK to embrace irregular working hours. You may not get everything done while they are awake, and the sooner you accept that the better off you are. Learn to swap time in the evenings after bed to do tasks that fit with that hour, like writing or working ahead for the next day.
4. Dress for Success?
Once upon a time, I did this. Then everything had to go to the cleaners because I’d wear the same nice white sweater to look professional at home to cook spaghetti for dinner. (And the only one who saw me spiffed up was the lawn man!)
Now I work in comfy work out-style clothes, dress up for meetings, lunches, and interviews. Sometimes I work in my robe! What do you work in at home?
5. Use Technology
Some companies start with a conference call or video call each morning, which is a nice way to get engaged. (Yes, there is this thing called talking on a phone.)
The internet may save us all here: there are technologies like Slack for chatting with your team, Google Hangouts (once known as G-chat) and Skype for quick face-to-face conversations, as well as remote conferencing tools like Zoom, Bluejeans, and Gather for multi-attendee meetings. Get ready to hear and use these more in the next couple of months.
6. On Putzing Around the House
This can be a big problem if you just start working at home, but you need to stop yourself. Leave the dishes rinsed in the sink, start one load of laundry, and then sit at your desk.
Now my problem is I work so much at home I get zero done for my house.
7. Embrace the Backyard as Your Office
Nice day? Take a walk? Do that conference call on the patio. I think one of the biggest perks of remote/freelance work is that you can tweak your environment at will, moving around the house, no one to bug you.
“I actually did an interview the other night while on a training run because it was the only free time I’d had all day,” said writer Heather Hunter.
8. You Are Part of Your Neighborhood
This is like wartime. Keep your alerts coming in so you know what’s happening and check with reliable news sources like the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), Johns Hopkins, and of course CandysDirt.com for local impacts.
Real estate is the name of our game, but we are in a national crisis here. We are committed to helping you make the best possible use of your home during these next few weeks. Now is the time you are going to get your money’s worth from that mortgage.
Sleep well, wash your hands, and please stay healthy.