Many Walden staff, faculty, and students have transitioned from offices, work spaces, or our favorite public study spot to working full-time from home. Although this has been a difficult transition for many of us, it is an experience that we all share, sympathize, and empathize with.
Your Academic Skills Center team want to share their work-from-home stories, tips, and advice during this significant transition with Walden students. We’ve gathered our stories, our photos of our spaces, and our advice in one blog post that we hope will resonate with you during this time of change.
Emily Bruey, Coordinator, Undergraduate Peer Mentors Program
My husband has worked from home since 2015. I, on the other hand, transitioned to remote work some five years later in March of 2020. On my first work-from-home day, I woke up early and set up shop in my husband’s home office. Now, more than six months later, the home office is my office, and most days, my husband works out of an armchair in our living room (unless our dog has already claimed it). My work-from-home tip: the early bird gets the best workspace.
Stephanie Kramer, Writing Assessment Specialist
The dog(s) will always bark. Trust me. My dog can be asleep on the couch in a completely different room. He cannot see me. The minute I log in to my one meeting of the day, a rarity for some, I know, he must make his presence known. He is either by my side whining to go outside (he does not need to go out), barking at the ghost in the basement (there isn’t one), or pawing at me for attention with those kangaroo paws and sweet puppy eyes. Don’t worry about it. Go on mute and give your dog some pets or a toy. Let the small things go while working from home. Besides, 9 times out of 10 your coworkers want to see your animals anyways!
Jamie Klingman, Peer Mentor
The most important thing for me when working/earning my degree from home was to establish a way to have my “needs” met. For me, that was sound blocked from outside sources, a comfortable chair, etc. I invested in Bose headphones, which are NOT cheap, but they work to block sound and let me focus without being distracted by all of the noises my husband, daughters, and menagerie of animals create. I also invested in a chair that I was comfortable and supported in (I work on a laptop). While my setup may not look like the norm, it works for me. Finding what space, whether it’s in a closet (mine was before we moved) or in a certain chair, is imperative to setting the tone for getting work done. It makes the transition to this work so much easier. I am also careful to not do other things (surf social media, etc) when in that space. It’s sacred!
Shannon Gentry, Peer Mentor
To successfully work or study from home, I make sure that my desk is as uncluttered as possible, but that I am also surrounded by things that make me happy. I moved my art around so that I could see it better behind my monitors, and I bought a string of lights for the newly darkening mornings to create a nice atmosphere. The things that help me the most, though, are to always have a glass of water close by, a blank notebook, and pen to write thoughts down as I get distracted. I find thoughts pop into my head frequently, often taking my focus away from my work. Keeping the pen and paper allows me to write down what that thought is and then I can either use it as a future to-do list, or something to just reflect on.
Jody Nelson, Peer Mentor
The most important piece of advice I can think of on working from home is: “know thyself” and then plan accordingly. I hate having to sit in a chair all day, so I don’t. Instead of a traditional desk and office chair, I opted for a low coffee table and pillows. I might sit cross-legged in front of the desk, throw one leg across the front of the keyboard, push the table away from me and spread books and papers all over the floor, or have one foot on each side of the table. The point is, I can move around and be comfortable while still having a functional, dedicated workspace.
Kara McCoy, Peer Mentor
Long ago, when I chose my new home, I enthusiastically made sure it had an office… then I picked out a fancy-schmancy-looking desk and high-backed desk chair. Now, after the phenomenon known as 2020 and hundreds-of-hours-in-that-chair later, I found myself throwing that anachronous, incommodious, ouch-couch straight into the dumpster. Instead, I replaced it with an over-stuffed, wide, and floppy piece of living room furniture off of Craigslist and covered it with a favorite quilt. I surrounded it with official-looking things to make my Zoom BAYR calls look respectable… but hey… nobody knows how happy my pajama-clad self is relaxing in leisure mode. 🙂 Consider your comfort- it’s worth it- because, seriously, a Ph.D. shouldn’t require seat-suffering.
Jennifer Krou, Peer Tutor
We have all heard stories where the dog ate someone’s homework. When my daughter was in elementary, our great Dane ate her homework; she took the remaining shreds to turn in to show that she did do the assignment. This week, I left out a stack of research on my dining room table. Overnight, Mac-N-Cheese (cat) ate my research. Note to self: put away all important research files.
Dena Easton, Operations Manager, Writing Assessment
Working from home has challenges for sure. Many are trying to navigate working remotely for the first time and need to incorporate time and space with family, pets, and available technology. I have been a remote employee prior to the pandemic. It is important to have a dedicated, quiet, and comfortable space for work. Make sure that you stick to the same hours you kept while working in an office and it is also important to ensure that you find time to take breaks. I have found that using your camera in meetings enforces the feeling of connection with others while we maintain social distancing. Take care!
Your Academic Skills Center team hope you are safe and well during this time of transition; and we hope that our stories, advice, and tips have helped your experiences feel more shared. Thank you.
Your Academic Skills Center is comprised of Walden staff, students, and faculty that instruct in a range of subjects from statistics and Word to reading and school-life balance. Many of your ASC team are, or are currently, enrolled in a Walden program(s) or are Walden graduates.