In light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic that created an instant remote workforce, an article in Forbes Magazine looked at the question, “Is working at home the future of work?” The article stated, “One effect of the coronavirus pandemic has been a dramatic increase in the number of Americans working from home. The question is: How many of the remote workers will be able to stay at home when the COVID-19 crisis fades?”
If the majority of workers can continue to work remotely, then it will signal a paradigm shift in traditional American work patterns. The article went on to state, “An early-April 2020 MIT survey of 25,000 American workers found that 34% of those who had been employed four weeks earlier said they are currently working from home. Combined with the roughly 15% who said they had been working from home pre-COVID-19, that means nearly half the U.S. workforce might now be remote workers. And that is also true, the researchers say, for workers 55 and older.”
About 2.25 million people call the Research Triangle home. Many scientists, engineers, researchers, teachers, professors, and students are working or studying from home, and virtually overnight, tens of thousands of home offices sprung up in the Triangle and across America. Performance, security, and safety issues have arisen that must be considered now rather than later since working from home is likely the future of work.
The professionals at Crisp Electric offer these tips to help the legions of new remote workers get the most out of working from home.
1. Upgrade the home electrical wiring and panel to handle the additional load.
Take an inventory of what devices and equipment will be running in the office. As long as only a couple of items are operating simultaneously, there may be no issues. A GFCI breaker built directly into the electrical panel protects all receptacles on that circuit. With a GFCI breaker, every power outlet that is connected to the breaker’s line will have complete GFCI protection. Having a licensed, experienced electrician analyze the situation and propose safe, effective solutions is the best strategy for making and keeping the home office operating efficiently and safely.
2. Add additional outlets in the office instead of using power cords.
While it is possible to connect as many as twelve or more items into a power cord, a home office could possibly have sixteen or more items plugged into an outlet. This scenario presents a real danger to the home and its occupants. In older homes, the risk increases, and mobile homes become vulnerable when wiring and circuits are overloaded.
3. Consider adding lighting to facilitate the work environment.
Brighter light can be refreshing, and well-placed lighting can ease eye strain. Quick solutions are available, but they may require the services of a licensed electrician.
4. Consider the many alternatives to heating and cooling the new workspace.
Should the central HVAC be insufficient to heat and cool the workspace, suitable alternatives are available. A window AC unit or a free-standing unit may suffice in a small space. A split unit is a bit pricey, but it will eliminate the temperature challenge.
5. Think about safety and security.
Work or life can be distracting. The beauty of working at home is that it is often possible to multitask. An intense phone negotiation can cause the parent who is cooking dinner to forget that dinner is now burning on the stove or in the oven. Make sure the fire alarms are functional, and the batteries are fresh.
The working parent would do well to consider installing an in-home security system so that eyes can be on the children and any pets at all times. An outside security system is a good idea, especially with the entire family at home and alone. An unexpected knock at the front door can be unnerving.
6. Always have a backup plan.
Natural disasters such as tornadoes, lightning strikes, or hurricanes do not give much warning, so remote workers need to consider a solid back up plan for the office. A backup battery that will allow the computer to shut down safely is indispensable. Beyond the immediate need, a partial or whole-house generator will mean an uninterrupted workflow. At the office or home, time is money.
7. Ask if the employer offers financial assistance to remote workers for office supplies, utilities, or other expenses associated with a home office.
When employees work at home, one of the benefits for employers is cost savings to the company. Some companies do assist employees with the expenses of working from home.
Electricals, lighting, HVAC, safety and security, and reimbursement are vitally important to the home office. New devices, more people in the home for more extended periods, preoccupation with work, taking care of the kids, and the occasional knock at the door can add up to either a positive experience to be remembered for a lifetime or a negative experience to be remembered for a lifetime. The professionals at Crisp Electric urge homeowners to schedule an evaluation of the home office setting for efficiency, comfort, lighting, safety, and security.
For more information about the certified electrician or to schedule an evaluation or consultation, visit the Crisp Electric website at crispelectric.com. Contact the office at (984) 222-0992.