Build productivity amid sudden change

Take Control of
Working from Home Temporarily

Glenn Fleishman

We’re in a time of unprecedented uncertainty. In the middle of a global viral outbreak, you were told or asked to work from home—and you’ve never or rarely had to be productive where you live before. What to do? We’re here to take some stress out of your life with a new, free book that details how to set up a home office and balance work and home life for those not accustomed to it.

This product has been discontinued. You may be interested in:

Take Control of Zoom

This free title has been discontinued and will no longer be updated. However, readers may be interested in Take Control of Zoom, which is still available for purchase and will be kept up to date for the foreseeable future!

Take Control of Working from Home Temporarily is a free 66-page book tailored for the sudden onset of telecommuting. It’s our way of trying to help.

We advise you on how to stake out a space to work, how to equip it either with material you already have or what to buy if you can afford to invest in the space. Do you want to stand or sit? (Get a better chair or a laptop or monitor riser.) Should you get an external monitor if you don’t have one? (Yes!)

The book delves into furniture and hardware setup, including the right kind of audio input and output for calls and videoconferencing, as well as looking at security, collaboration, and communication software tools you may be unfamiliar with or might set up for your team or company.

Part of the difficulty in working from home is creating a separation—physically if possible and psychologically—from the rest of your home life. This can take as much effort if you live alone as if you have a partner, roommates, or an extended family. We delve into strategies for staking boundaries, working around others, and trying to communicate limitations to your work that arise from this necessary period of isolation.

For parents, we know that you may have school-age kids at home for weeks or months, and there’s a chapter with suggestions on how to juggle those obligations with your work requirements.

And we remind you to be kind to yourself, take breaks, and not replace an absent commute with simply more work. A little tea or coffee, some stretching, and a brisk walk around the block while maintaining social distancing can go miles towards boosting your mood. This isn’t easy for anyone—it’s OK to admit that.

We’re all navigating this new world together, and we want to help. Author Glenn Fleishman, a veteran freelancer, who has spent the last decade working full-time in a home office, solicited advice from dozens of Take Control Books authors, contributors to the Mac publication TidBITS, and friends and acquaintances who have hundreds of years of collective remote work experience.

If you’re like us—Glenn and Take Control Books owners Joe and Morgen—you feel somewhat helpless in the face of forces beyond our control and with no clear path forward, just that there is a path forward. We contributed our time to this book to provide a little light from our experiences and those of many others who donated their tips and observations.

We welcome your feedback and wish you all the best in managing this transition.

In this book, you’ll learn more about how to:

  • Stake out a physical space, even if it involves setting up a curtain or moving a bookshelf
  • Pick or adjust a chair if you plan to sit
  • Figure out the right mic and headphones or speakers for your needs
  • Add a monitor for efficiency, or use software to turn an iPad or other devices into a second display
  • Stand while you work without necessarily investing in a new desk
  • Set working hours to avoid never being off the clock
  • Put up a sign or otherwise signify when you’re working to those around you
  • Invest a tiny amount or a lot into noise-canceling headphones or earbuds
  • Use videoconferencing to replace meetings and casual conversation you miss from an office
  • Adjust your expectations and that of your employer to how much work you can produce, initially and in the long haul
  • Take regular breaks to avoid burnout, but if you get in the zone, you can stay there, too
  • Juggle the simultaneous burdens of full-time home parenting with home working
  • Remember to eat lunch
Glenn Fleishman

About Glenn Fleishman

Glenn Fleishman is a veteran technology writer who has contributed to dozens of publications across his career, including Macworld, Fast Company, and Increment. He has also written dozens of editions of books in the Take Control series. He spent 2019 and 2020 building 100 tiny type museums full of real printing artifacts. Glenn lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.

What’s New in Version 1.3

The previous version of this book looked forward and speculated about how people might continue to work from home over time. Months further into the spread of the virus and the responses of different U.S. states and other countries led me to revise the book to reflect what will likely be gradual shifts in 2020 and potentially far into 2021. The future of office-based work appears like it will mix full-time telecommuting and some amount of reduced staffing in offices, potentially alternating days or weeks.

A few places in particular were beefed up:

  • I dug in with more detail on virtual, physical, and hybrid backdrops as well as face and background detail blurring in “Be a Videoconferencing Pro.”
  • As summer approaches in the northern hemisphere, I added a suggestion about air conditioning in “Think About the Air.” Worried AC contributes to global warming? Read the sidebar “Am I Killing the Earth While Cooling Myself?”.
  • With more people having on-camera goofs, I expanded “Don’t Forget When You’re on Camera” and offer more tips on blocking your webcam when you’re not intended to stream video.
  • As part of mental hygiene, getting outside, and new government rules and suggestions about masks, consider that you could “Buy a Cloth Mask If You Don’t Feel Handy.”

Since the previous version, I also wrote the book Take Control of Zoom, a detailed how-to guide for one of the most popular videoconferencing tools now in use for work and social purposes. I’ve added insights garnered from researching that book into this revision.

What Was New in Version 1.2

The section on using a virtual private network (VPN) was expanded to offer more specific advice for major operating systems on configuration and connections; see “Enable a Virtual Private Network.”

I also added a detailed new section on backing up files, something you may have not needed to manage previously, because your company handled that; see “Set Up File Backups.”

  • Read Me First
    • Updates and More
    • What’s New in Version 1.3
    • What Was New in Version 1.2
  • Introduction
  • Stake Out Your Space
    • Define and Equip Your Workspace
    • Configure and Add Hardware
  • Set Boundaries and Preserve Professionalism
    • Indicate You’re at Work
    • Set a Business Standard
    • Work Alongside Others at Home
    • Cope with the Vagaries of Home Life
  • Learn Remote Tools
    • Enable a Virtual Private Network
    • Set Up File Backups
    • Collaborate Online on Projects
    • Message in a Group
    • Communicate with Video
  • Pace Yourself
    • Structure Your Day
    • Take Breaks
    • Revel in Flexibility
    • Preserve Time Outside of Work
  • Juggle Parenting
    • Set Boundaries for Kids
    • Bring Kids in to Work
  • About This Book
    • Ebook Extras
    • About the Author
    • About the Publisher
  • Copyright and Fine Print

Glenn Fleishman Talks Working from Home with Chuck Joiner

Posted by Joe Kissell on March 19, 2020

Glenn Fleishman discussed his new (free!) book, Take Control of Working from Home Temporarily with Chuck Joiner of MacVoices in a special two-part interview.

In Part 1, Glenn covers topics such as setting up your workspace and equipment, dealing with ergonomics, and coping with other people in your living space.

In Part 2, Glenn discusses video and audio conferencing tips, as well as how to stay focused when not in the office.


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