9 June 2021
The Lighter Side: Half-Dressed for Half-Success?
From pants to productivity, the perils of lockdown are affecting millions of remote workers worldwide. Here are a few key points to maintain your sanity, dignity and reputation.
If ever there were two consecutive years to stand out in history simply because they sucked in so many ways for so many people, we’re betting 2020 and 2021 would be absolute slam-dunks for that title. (If any ingenuous CAD guru could re-engineer the world either to a pre-Covid state or a post-Covid utopia, we’d genuinely appreciate it.)
If you’re reading this, chances are you didn’t win the lottery or you’d be holed-up somewhere exotic, sipping umbrella drinks and playing games on your mobile device. For most of us, lockdown also inhibited physical activity, so we’ve probably gotten a little fatter and lazier. (It’s a plausible excuse, don’t you think?) While the kids appreciate that you’re constantly home (well, at least until they become teenagers), your significant other is probably less enthusiastic about you constantly being on the phone/computer/couch, hogging the dinner table or being perpetually underfoot.
We all know that one person who hasn’t coped well with lockdown. Maybe they’re a little frayed around the edges, or struggling to stay motivated without a regular office schedule. For many, working from home is a new mode of existence and a far cry from the “old days” that involved a commute to a designated place of work. One of our customer-service guys thinks about 90 percent of our clients work from home now.
Nobody wants to see your . . . significant other flossing their teeth . . . in the background.
He may be prone to a bit of exaggeration. But even if the real figure is closer to about 60 percent (depending on whose survey, the exact questions asked, the demographics of those surveyed, and the date on which it was taken), it’s still a major shift from the pre-Covid period (circa 2019) when the work-from-home figure seemed to hover around the 20 percent level (at a rough estimate). Be all that as it may, let’s get back to the important thing here: Without any sense of “office expectations,” it’s easy to simply fly by the seat of your pants and we’ll be discussing pants (amongst other things) below.
Why Giving a Darn is Important
You’ve probably heard of the seven deadly sins. We’re not talking about the seven sins listed on page five of the handout from Autodesk University. We’re talking about the original crew of sins. What’s interesting is that the first six (pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust and gluttony) all involve a degree of doing things (usually bad things, which we assume is why they are called “sins”).
On the other hand, the seventh deadly sin, sloth, is the only one that involves not doing something. The translation from the original Latin literally means, “without care.” And for some, the work-from-home situation may result in varying degrees of sloth. Maybe it means more junk food, or less time exercising, or wearing the same clothes for multiple days in a row, or fewer showers (which makes us all grateful that technology has not yet come up with an online version of scratch-and-sniff).
So, why is giving a darn important? Well, if you don’t think you’re worth it, why should anyone else? Don’t be guilty of this one or allow a friend or colleague to fall into this trap. Take care of yourself. If you have a friend or colleague who seems to be struggling, reach out to them. We all know that guy who treats working from home like a never-ending semi-vacation. (Unlike him, we’ve figured out that pajama pants aren’t really appropriate for the online corporate quarterly budget meeting, even if those pants are covered in dollar signs or the Batman logo!) Seriously, our post-Covid world will need savvy architects, engineers and construction guys to conceptualize and build our future, so let’s keep our wits about us.
If his current workspace is less than ideal, recommend that he tidy up, toss out the trash and channel his inner Martha Stewart . . .
That guy you know from work probably used to wake up hours before he was due at the office. He’d complete his morning routine, hit the commute and be at his desk, presentable, at the stipulated time. Now? If he’s one of those who have been tumbling out of bed five minutes before his morning video-call, running his hands through his hair, grabbing a shirt off the floor and hoping that his smile is enough to charm you, his colleagues and his boss, guess what: He’s not fooling anyone. His co-workers probably look at him politely as they sadly think to themselves, “Sam’s slipping.”
He’s most likely blissfully unaware and may need the truth, gently told, from a friend. If you think that’s a conversation that could be too difficult or sensitive, maybe send him a link to this article. Offer it as something chuckle-worthy you read. Hopefully, it will resonate with him. Or send him an ad for some jeans to replace the beleaguered pajama pants (dollar signs and Batman logo notwithstanding). Hell, even the entire Batman outfit would be better at the quarterly budget meeting than those darn pajama pants!
Help him to establish the mindset that the only thing missing from his former schedule is the commute. Encourage him to maintain his previous morning routine. Take a shower, indulge in personal grooming, dress appropriately and reserve time for some decent nutrition. If he used to exercise before or after work, suggest that he put in the same amount of time at home. Joke that he could use his toddlers as weights, tuck his feet under the couch for some sit-ups or chase the dog up and down the hallway until he’s out of breath. (It’ll be good for both of them.)
. . . the inspiration for great feats of architecture and engineering are more likely to come from a place of Zen calm and orderliness.
Pajamas, Sweat Pants and Super Powers
We promised we’d talk about pants, so here goes. If your buddy has been wearing nothing but pajamas or sweats since he started working from home, have him consider a refresh. Maybe you could suggest that he wear something that wouldn’t be embarrassing if he had to stand up during a video-call. Don’t let him get caught in a “business-from-the-waist-up, slob-from-the-waist-down” scenario. Come on, you’re in the AEC industry. You guys could probably design or engineer something appropriate faster than we could cook you breakfast. (If you take us up on that challenge, please share pictures of the results!)
Power dressing doesn’t magically instill super-powers in the wearer (unless the ensemble includes a cape), but it makes us feel more powerful. (In fact, we reckon most caped superheroes would feel kinda nakey without their cape.)
Self-empowerment means increased self-worth, which leads to better results in terms of productivity and our level of responsibility. We’re not suggesting anyone don a power-suit at home, but there’s a big difference between clean and presentable and grungy “give-up” flannels and sweats.
Maintain a decent appearance and a sense of dignity. You’re worth it. And so is your friend or colleague. Help him get there. (Or just order him the damn Batman suit already.)
This Little Pig Stayed at Home
In the Before Covid Era (BCE), when you had a brick-and-mortar office, was it littered with empty pizza boxes, take-out containers, snack wrappers and empty coffee cups or beverage cans and bottles? No? Good. How does your home work-area compare? Would you be comfortable if your boss strolled in right now? Good for you! But how about your buddy who seems to be struggling? Could he do with a little nudge in the right direction?
. . . if you don’t think you’re worth it, why should anyone else?
If his current workspace is less than ideal, recommend that he tidy up, toss out the trash and channel his inner Martha Stewart or Mr. Clean. Not only will he feel better for it, but the fruit flies and ants will have to relocate to obtain sustenance. Plus, you can remind him that the inspiration for great feats of architecture and engineering are more likely to come from a place of Zen calm and orderliness. (And with the pizza boxes gone, he’s less likely to snag his cape and cause a trashalanche — you know, like an avalanche, but with trash.)
Don’t . . . get caught in a “business-from-the-waist-up, slob-from-the-waist-down” scenario.
Tell him to quit working on the couch or amidst the crumbs and juice boxes on the dinner table. Even in a small space, it’s possible to carve out a tiny niche for a home office. (There are “tiny space” desk options for under $50 online, including a wall-mounted model that folds away when not in use, although we would never suggest a CAD guy stoop so low and order something he could design for himself — better design, better product, right?)
Ready for Your Close-Up?
While you don’t have Mr. De Mille to deal with, you probably have a screen full of co-workers and bosses to contend with during video calls. So does your friend or colleague. Let’s be honest here. Nobody wants to see your (or your buddy’s) significant other flossing their teeth or the dog/cat grooming their unmentionables in the background. Organize your home workspaces so that the background is neutral and professional. Put your back to a bookcase or a wall so that there’s nothing distracting or inappropriate happening behind you. You’re a CAD professional and a professional environment just helps keeps things, well, professional. How apt.
Increased Productivity Performance
We’ve addressed schedules, pants and the need for a dedicated workspace so that you can work more efficiently, but what about enhancing your platform’s efficiency? Being stressed at the office is almost a given — a cliché, one might say — but being stressed at home somehow seems counter-intuitive and pointless.
Whether you’re a MicroStation, AutoCAD or Revit user, Axiom has tools to enhance your productivity, reduce stress and avoid repetitive tasks, which simply makes doing your job easier and more satisfying. Give us a call, preferably while you’re fully dressed for success. (A Batman suit is optional and is always considered appropriate apparel at Axiom.)
Being stressed at the office is almost a given — a cliché, one might say — but being stressed at home somehow seems counter-intuitive and pointless.