Science and strategies for working from home

|
Written by: Alexa Stone

While vaccines become more available and infection rates trend downward, pandemic challenges continue. Even the most fortunate in health and security have had their lives disrupted. In the new normal, they may work from home or manage a team online.

Over the past 12 years, assignments have brought ecoPreserve team members to many remote locations and then home to compile, analyze, and report. We are finding ways to apply that experience to current projects.

Today’s challenges call for resiliency. Behavioral science provides a timely, relevant foundation. To build resiliency, we can choose from the strategies that have brought proven results.

The science

Remote work

Clear boundaries between professional and home responsibilities provide a front line for work-life balance. When remote workers find and manage that boundary, they can achieve optimal work-at-home happiness and productivity.

The work-home boundary can be managed in different ways. People who easily shift between tasks can continually refocus as they progress on both professional and personal tasks. Those individuals may be best suited for working from home. Others require more attention to their home office boundaries. That may mean reserved space and scheduled time. Both can help them avoid frustration and distraction when activities overlap.[1]

The strategies

Responding to this year’s increase in remote work, ecoPreserve’s project and support teams have tried several remote work tools and tactics. These strategies have worked for them. The teams share them here with our hopes that you will find similar value!

Every home has wellness hazards. The greatest of these is the kitchen refrigerator. That devices is likely to be stocked with food and stacks that are more to your liking than those in any office refrigerator.

Mary Jo Anderson
Mary Jo Anderson
Client Coordinator

Watching food choices

Through virtual meetings, Mary Jo participates in a wellness program that keeps her food and snack choices healthy.

Other team members have reported success using smartphone apps that count calories, steps, and minutes of exercise. 


With no rush hour, when does the workday begin and end? Even the most diligent remote worker can web-surf into deep waters. The next page is always just a click away, and one short video leads to the next.

Morgan McDonald
Morgan McDonald
Sustainability Specialist

Taming the time-wasters

Morgan use an app that monitors smartphone and web browser time and gives visual feedback, keeping track of progress.
Many similar apps are an iOS or Android download away. The one Morgan chose is unique in its greenhouse gas-reducing rewards. Trees are planted in the real world as those in the virtual world grow.

A boost in emotional intelligence can benefit any workday. We learn from the past and plan for the future, but ruminating about either becomes a detour from productivity and happiness. A meditation practice of even a few daily minutes can train the mind to return focus to the present.

Oscar Vargas
Oscar Vargas
Executive Director

Reserving time to meditate

Among the benefits Transcendental Meditation  has brought to Oscar, the quieting of the mind is an antidote to pandemic-induced stress.

Among other meditative practices recommended by ecoPreserve team members, mindfulness calms the multitasked mind, restoring equanimity.


The remote worker should occasionally check for shackles, removing any chain between desk and ankles.

Bill Hassel
Bill Hassel
Project Manager

Getting away from your desk

If the Indoor Air Quality of a gym or yoga studio is a concern, Bill suggests outdoor walking as an easy, socially-distanced fitness strategy. He notes that walking can be a trigger to creative, problem-solving thoughts.


Staying at home does not preclude the community facet of work-life balance! Reaching out brings benefit in both directions.

Jessica Wright
Jessica Wright
Senior Project Manager

Reaching out to the community

Jessica advises that most organizations have found ways to keep volunteers safe. An online search website that she recommends will retrieve hundreds of virtual volunteer opportunities. 

Further perspectives

As COVID-19 spread globally last spring, a technology publisher asked dozens of writers for suggestions about keeping happy and productive while working from home. That international group of remote work veterans provided dozens of tips, arranged in several categories:[2]

  • Daily routine suggestions
  • Essentials for equipment and the work environment
  • Software programs and online services
  • Tips for managers
  • Physical/mental health-related suggestions

MORE FROM ECOPRESERVE

In the first months of the pandemic, we published remote work suggestions in How to bring productivity home. A few months later, we had ideas for How to avoid the “Quarantine 15”. Another lifestyle article followed that, recommending A mindfulness boost: Happiness + Productivity.

[1] PsychologyToday.com
[2] ZDNet.com

Tags

Copyright © 2021 ecoPreserve. All Rights Reserved.

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

Tools tailored to location and need

Disaster resilience requires a select toolset, identified, adapted, or created as needed based on planning calls and inclusive workshop participation.

Business and government organizations today are confronted by threat categories that range from drought to flood, from fire to hurricane, and extend globally to pandemics and sea level rise. Threat categories are broad and diverse, but ecoPreserve and collaborating organizations design resiliency tools for specific local context.

Local needs are identified and verified. Building from that essential understanding, tools are designed, tested in pilot programs, refined, then implemented through action plans.

Today's challenges/
tomorrow's potential

ecoPreserve collaborates with major community and private organizations in optimizing the resiliency and resource efficiency of their workplaces, venues, and public spaces.

In response to ever-increasing environmental, sociopolitical, and public health challenges, we advocate for and participate in assessment and planning actions that directly address disaster preparations, recovery activities, infrastructure improvements, and smart building/city design.

Online and in-person workshops

ecoPreserve designs and leads workshops in varied formats, to achieve varied goals.

Often an event is held for skill and knowledge development, but some needs of an organization or community are better resolved through collaboration to identify requirements and to design solutions. A range of Disaster Resilience workshops are available for solutions planning and development, as well as for training and communication.

Disaster Planning and Recovery Workshops

  • Identify technical and business process gaps
  • Define stakeholders, recovery teams, and processes/functionalities necessary for operation
  • Highlight missed expectations from a data loss and recovery time perspective
  • Address compliance with regulatory agencies and industry standards
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Facility Condition Report

The report is prepared in accordance with the recommendations of ASTM E2018-15, Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments. This is a partial list of contents:

  • PHYSICAL CONDITION
    • General condition of the building, grounds, and appurtenances
    • Physical deficiencies, their significance, and suggested remedies
    • Photographs
    • Safety issues observed
  • INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPREAD POTENTIAL
  • OPPORTUNITIES
    • Potential operating efficiencies
    • Electricity and water use reductions
    • High-efficiency interior and exterior lighting
  • ORDER OF MAGNITUDE RENOVATION BUDGET
    • Recommended interior finishes
    • Construction costs

Risk Mitigation Improvements

  • IAQ
    • Airflow
    • Temperature and humidity
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC EQUIPMENT
    • Settings
    • Conditions
    • Capability
    • Filtration
  • FLOORPLAN
    • Traffic patterns
  • FURNISHINGS
    • Placement for social distancing
    • Clear barriers where social distancing is not possible

Interior Elements

  • Foundation
  • Building frame and roof
  • Structural elements
    • Floors, walls, ceilings
    • Access and egress
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC equipment and ductwork
  • Utilities
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
  • Safety and fire protection

Grounds and Appurtenances

  • Façades or curtainwall
  • Topography
  • Storm water drainage
  • Paving, curbing, and parking
  • Flatwork
  • Landscaping
  • Recreational facilities
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

An OPTIMIZED Assessment

Certified Sustainability Consultants on a facility assessment team can discover ways to lower energy costs. Their understanding of HVAC equipment suitability and condition along with the specifics of LED lighting retrofits can provide offsets for needed investments in upgrades and replacements.

Knowledge of water systems can bring further savings while averting water waste. It can all be part of an assessment which might otherwise overlook water fixtures and irrigation schedules.

How should a facility be ASSESSED?

A thorough facility assessment finds the issues - on the surface or below - which have a potential negative impact on the building. That brings the facility to meet building codes. Beyond that, the assessment proactively addresses the deficiencies not covered by code.

The occupants of a building benefit as the assessment reveals conditions having a potential impact on their health or safety. The assessment must not overlook those conditions, nor fail to consider the frequency and duration of occupant visits.