The great quarantine of 2020

We're almost at the end of 2020 and we're not really quarantining anymore but kinda still are.

From-home all the things

The biggest game changer in this whole pandemic: companies are forced to figure out
how to let folks work from home. I was working from home 2 days a week already so the change wasn't that
extreme but 5 days, especially during the full lockdown we had with the whole family together was someting entirely new.

The good

I can totally get used to working from home even more than the 2 days a week I already did. The primary reason
being commuting. I don't hate driving, but sitting in traffic is such an enormous waste of time. An easy choice to just
get rid of the commute all together.

Another big benefit, being home means also being there for my family. Lunching together, being able to help out around the house more.
Picking up and dropping the kids off at school. All because there's no need to get out ahead of peak rush hour.

Turns out that if you are at home all the time, you tend to spend less money (that's my experience at least).

The bad

While I'm still productive I find that collaboration is a lot more difficult. Folks are busy but you can't just walk over for
a little chat about some thing you're working on. You can DM people on Slack and Teams and what have you but those can be disabled
and you will be either waiting for an answer or figuring things out yourself.

Pro tip for the windows users, set your alerts to Alarms only in the notification area!

Meetings... so many meetings. I know this contradicts the earlier thing about colaborating but it's pretty to easy see your day
loaded with meetings.

The ugly

@here and @channel are the worst... There's a chance that it's important but many times it's something unrelated and it's another channel for the mute-pile
to keep the deluge of pings at bay.

Schools were very quick to treat "homeschool" as something very normal all of a sudden. I have kids in the 5 to 10 year old range and having one of them home
because there's no teacher happens every now and then. Before the 'rona this usually ment that they got a bit of work and basically a day off for the remaining time.
New situation, not so much. A healthy dose of work to do at home. While I think this is great planning on their part to have this at the ready, school seems to
forget that I (or any parent that's at home) needs to guide the act of actually doing of the working. Don't get me wrong, I think this is very important
but it takes a lot more time than I first imagined. One of those things you just end up dealing with by taking some extra hours in the evening to catch up
to lost time during the day. Not ideal, but eh...

I've noticed that it can be very tempting to just finish something for work even though you've completed your day. "Just this one thing" can turn into a couple extra hours
in the evening for no good reason. Don't do that, it'll slowly burn you out.

Gear

As mentioned above, everything is now taking place online.
For all that is holy make sure you have at least a decent microphone for all the online communication. Having to ask someone to repeat what they said because it didn't come through properly does not make for good meetings.

Not sure if everything is set up correct?
Download OBS studio and record yourself, then play it back to hear how you sound. Laptop microphones are mostly garbage so I'd stay away from those
if you can. Picture quality is a lot less important, anything of at least 720p (or higher) is probably fine with decent lighting. There's a high chance you or someone else is sharing their screen during the call so you'll be invisible anyway.

Here's what I use for voice and video, nothing fancy except maybe the headphones:

  • Beyerdynamics DT770 PRO headphones.
  • ModMic omnidirectional, mounted to my headphones.
  • ModMic USB Mic booster for clearer audio from the microphone.
  • Logitech C270 webcam.

Wrapping up

This virus isn't going away anytime soon so invest a little in your home setup with a proper desk and chair to keep your body in shape. Also think of going outside and get a bit of natural light every day to stay sane as well.

Stay safe y'all 🌞

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