Work (at home), Life (at home) Balance

At-home workstations around UC, four photos

By Jeané Blunt. Since the emergence of COVID-19, many of us at UC are working remotely. If you’re like me, working remotely is a completely new experience for you. I’ve been home for just over a week and I still haven’t found a comfortable workspace in my apartment, the proper audio settings for my Zoom account, or the strength to stop eating all my quarantine snacks. In times like these, I’ve found it’s best to turn to the experts for guidance and advice.

Setting Up Your Workspace

Rita Rosenthal is communications and outreach manager at UC Berkeley and she has been working remotely for the past three years. Rosenthal said, “Having a dedicated workspace in your home is ideal but not always realistic. Wherever you work, make it comfortable and set things up to be ergonomically friendly.”

She also shared her tips for staying active in your new workspace. “As most of us know, sitting and staring at a screen for long hours takes a toll on your body. Getting up several times during the day to stretch, take some deep breaths, go for a walk, or get some kind of physical activity is also super important for both body and mind.”

If you can’t get outside for a stretch, try these Computer and Desk Stretches published by UC Santa Cruz. And for help setting up a work station at home, check out UCSF’s Ergonomic Tips for Remote Work.

Getting Used to Zoom

Almost overnight Zoom has become a vital part of our work life. Many of us never touched the settings in the office, but are now constantly adjusting them in an effort to achieve the optimal connection.

Everett Stauffer is an advanced application support engineer at UC Santa Barbara and he’s been working remotely since 2017. “Getting used to video conferencing takes time.” Stauffer said. “Go ahead and take that time now. Hook everything up. Start Zoom, go into the configuration and play around. Don’t forget to turn off video and audio at start! It’s much less embarrassing to fumble with it now than during a meeting. Get someone to join your personal Zoom meeting, then look and listen from their side. Get comfortable with the equipment. Try other headsets, cameras, and microphones (and combos). I personally use a Logitech C615 which has both a camera and microphone.”

For more Zoom tips check out UCSF’s article, How to Have a Zoom Meeting That Is (Almost) as Good as Being There.

Practicing Self Care

It’s easy to forget about yourself when you’re in work mode. How many times have you been in the office, looked at the clock, and realized you haven’t left your desk in three hours? Rosenthal lives in Minnesota and works for UC. In her case, self care means adjusting her schedule to fit two time zones. “For the first few years, it was easy to dive into work and keep going through the day without taking real breaks. Being in a different time zone, I would get up and start working but still be on California time. This meant that I was often putting in 12 hour days or longer.”

She continued, “More recently, I’ve started adjusting my time to put in my hours in a more fluid way. This is even more important if you have loved ones to care for and being available to them while still making it to important meetings that are scheduled. Our own health and well-being factors into our day too and needs to be a priority.”

In these uncertain times, it is important to be comfortable in your (at home) workspace. The right balance of work, play, and social time is key. Rosenthal said, “Recently a colleague said something that really resonated with me to keep things in perspective. He said we need to remember that we are working from home, not living at work. An excellent distinction to keep in mind during these already stressful times.”

Jeané Blunt is IT communications and UC FCC licensing coordinator at UC Office of the President.Jeané Blunt is IT communications and UC FCC licensing coordinator, Information Technology Services, UC Office of the President.

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