The pandemic-induced lockdown was not easy for many. Some lost their jobs, and many explored how to find jobs while they were forced to stay at home. I myself started being a work from home dad jobs two years ago. For the most part, I’ve learned to adjust, but the road towards achieving my current comfortable work-life balance was not easy. Here are 5 must-haves to be a successful work from home dad.
#1 A Dedicated Working Area
One of the biggest misconceptions about working at home is that one has the freedom to work anywhere in the house — the kitchen table, the living room, bedroom, garage. I had to “unlearn” this the hard way. I soon found out that the kitchen and living room were always occupied and therefore distracting. The bedroom made it easy to fall asleep when I shouldn’t. The garage was not conducive because I was at the mercy of the heat and humidity as well as distracting noises from the street or the neighbors.
If you don’t have a spare room to use as a dedicated home office like I do, it might be a good idea to set up a dedicated workspace at a quieter corner of the living room, away from where other family members normally converge (near the TV or dining area). To keep the peace, I sat down with my family to set ground rules. The TV volume had to be lower during my work hours. When I am on video conferencing, they must try their best to stay away from my workstation. Investing on a good noise-cancelling headphone could also help.
#2 A Laptop with a Good Battery
One of the biggest problems that plague remote work here in the Philippines is access to uninterrupted power supply. From unscheduled blackouts to power cables snapping or transformers exploding during heavy downpour and thunderstorms, these sudden power interruptions could make you miss important deadlines.
Even if you have been using the same trusty high-end laptop for years, it stands to reason that its battery life had seen better days. Replace old batteries before they totally give out. Once you have enough money, make the investment on a new laptop with good battery life. You will find that it will soon pay for itself.
For uninterrupted connection to the internet, get a power bank for your WiFi router. Just be sure to buy from a reputable store because there are many defective or bad clones on the market.
For those with desktops, getting a decent UPS (uninterruptible power supply) is the way to go. Although it may only keep your desktop running for less than an hour, it will allow you to save your work or at least alert your employer that there’s an outage. It will also prevent damage to your desktop components in case of a power surge.
#3 An Office-Appropriate Chair and Table
Don’t hesitate to splurge on a decent office-grade table and chair. Working from home still means having to sit in front of a computer for 8 hours or more. There is a reason why “office furniture” is category of its own — it’s not just about office aesthetics but ergonomics.
If you are currently using a table and chair that do not allow you to work on your computer at the right level and height, you will soon find yourself complaining of back and neck pain. Get a table that can accommodate your laptop and other work equipment but will not strain your elbow or contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome
#4 Proper Lighting
Some people say that a lighted monitor is good enough. Others say working under the kitchen or living room light fixtures is okay. But there’s a reason why big companies invest in proper lighting and positioning of office desks and computers. For instance, you may not notice that house light may hit your screen and cause glare, putting your eyes under strain to accommodate the brightness. It can also get worse if your screen is near a window, as sunlight could cause glare too. Consider using darker or light-blocking curtains on the windows near your station.
#5 Set hours for work and for family
If there’s one advantage that onsite office work has over working from home, it’s that it’s easier to turn off “work mode” as soon as you step out of the workplace. But when you’re working from home, you may find it difficult to “leave work” when your office is literally a few steps away from wherever you are in the house.
Re-learning how to leave your “work self” is an integral part of achieving work-life balance as a work from home dad. And the best way to do this is by adhering to a strict “work time” and “family time” schedule. Once your shift ends, it’s important to distance yourself from your laptop/desktop and dedicate the rest of your day to your family. It won’t be easy, and many struggle balancing their work and family life even before the pandemic, but just stick to this routine and you’ll eventually get the hang of it.
It may help for you to have two separate user accounts in your computer, one for work and another for leisure, and the moment your shift ends, log-off of your work account. This can aid in conditioning your mind to follow your work-life balance schedule. It must be able to distinguish that work time is officially over — just like when you log out from the office.
Finding a good company to work for is often hit or miss. But with the global job market opening to accommodate more and more remote workers, remember that when deciding which companies to work for, compensation is simply not enough. Big salary rates are ultimately worthless if you’re working for a company that demands more time than you can afford and sees you merely as a replaceable gear in their machinery. You will be happier if you find a company that genuinely value their remote employees’ growth and rights and ensure that you’re working with a competent and welcoming team. When applying for a job, do your research on the company. Look them up, see what their previous or current employees say about them. And while you’re at it, check out opportunities at LegalMatch Philippines here