Evolving Workspaces and Working From Home

2020 has definitely taken a lot of twists and turns since the beginning of January, both good and bad. While I’ve been working as the Customer Support Manager over the last couple of months I’ve also had to manage to work from home for the first time! I’m sure like many of us, working from home has been a new experience we weren’t expecting to have to do this year.

I just wanted to take this time to document what my workspace has evolved to over the course of Reclaim’s social distancing time. I’ve seen many people shift to start documenting what life was like during this time and think this is majorly important. It’s something to look back on and see how we were doing or what we were feeling in the moment.

Reclaim is based in Fredericksburg, Virginia. But while we’re based in VA, 4 of our 7 employees work from the office together regularly. The office itself hasn’t been in Reclaim’s environment for very long either. When I first came onto the team in 2017, we’d just began renovations on the office to turn it into a coworking space, CoWork. I wish I’d documented more of the space, but Lauren did a wonderful job and you can see the evolution to what it looked like in it’s prime.

At that time, there were only 4 of us and we didn’t need much space. We had essentially 2 storefronts worth of office space that wasn’t used and found that creating a shared office for those who “work from home” (which has a completely different meaning now) to come for a change of atmosphere and get out of the house, where they could work with likeminded people was a big need in the community. Not to mention there was a VHS rental store, and a ton of arcade games to play 🙂 The office location provided an easy meeting space directly between 2 metro areas, Washington D.C. and Richmond, VA so we regularly had people book meetings in our conference room.

But as Reclaim has grown, we quickly realized that we needed a dedicated office. So we made the very difficult decision to shut down CoWork in December of 2019 to make way for a Reclaim HQ and other projects. At that point, we’d expanded our office, even more, to take over 2 additional storefronts within the same shopping center complex!

In the first couple of months of 2020, we spent time cleaning out the main CoWork space and Reclaim Video in preparation for the move next door to the dedicated Reclaim office space.

Now that’s enough backstory! Flash forward to Friday March 13, which I think was a turning point for a lot of social distancing to start here in the US, and we’d just finished moving to our new space.

We finished moving into the new office on a Friday and planned to start working from there fulltime that next Monday. But by the afternoon on Friday, Reclaim made the call to shift to remote work to social distance.

Reclaim has been very fortunate that we’ve been able to continue working with little disruption since we shifted to working from home. Luckily, our “office” really is a laptop and a stable WiFi connection. Most of the work we do is browser/terminal based so it’s been very portable work.

To start, I was planning to go visit my family in Virginia Beach the week we decided to go remote so I decided to stay just a bit longer now that I didn’t have to be anywhere for the foreseeable future. I commandeered my mom’s office for a week (and had a little work buddy).

Then it was back to Fredericksburg! I started out in the dining room of my apartment which worked well for a bit. My roommate was still working on her degree at UMW which helped me stay focused throughout the day while she was working on classwork, it was like we were working in an office together! But I quickly found that I was getting distracted more easily, and as time went on it wasn’t the best space for me. I found myself getting into a funk that I didn’t like.

I found that it was time for a space refresh. I had a desk in my room that was being used as a TV stand, and I figured it should be used for it’s correct purpose.

Over the weekend I decided to do a big spring cleaning and go through all my belongings and pair down what I wasn’t using anymore and do a general declutter a la Marie Kondo. And let me tell you what a space refresh! I feel so much better, my space is cleaner, brighter, and I now have a dedicated space for work. I’m not competing with the table for mealtimes and I have a lot more light coming into space.

And while it is my room, and my bed is now directly behind me, I’m finding that I’m working from my desk throughout the day more– and that’s mainly thanks to the chair! I grabbed this from the office on a grocery run which helped me save my back again. I’m also keeping my room clean, more of my space is in view during video meetings so I want to keep the space tidy and put together. It’s the little things, but I’m find I need a bit more of a routine.

I’m super grateful that I have the chance to take my desk setup with me, meaning the monitor and stand, laptop stand, and desk chair with me! That was the biggest consistency through out my desk set up because I wanted to replicate the setup as best as possible.

The transition was difficult for me mentally because I no longer had that shift where I went into ‘work mode’ for the day. My home has always been a space for relaxation and downtime, where I would go to unwind, catch up with friends, play a video game, or binge the next show/movie on Netflix. I’m a work-a-holic so having a completely separate physical space for work gave me a chance to switch my brain from work to social time during the day. It took me almost 2 months for me to really figure out what that looks like when the separate physical space is removed because of an outside force I can’t control, COVID-19.

So here’s to the new work from home life! I want to see y’all’s desks/workspaces so feel free to add them in the comments or tag me on twitter 🙂

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