Before the pandemic hit, forcing businesses to find alternative ways to continue operating, many industries had started experimenting and allowing employees to work from home.
Obviously, some are easier than others due to their nature of work.
Architects, as business people, interact with the public every day, from clients to co-workers.
There are times when you have to meet with people in person, but working from home has become the new normal for many. This arrangement can work for or against you depending on how you handle it.
Here are ten tips to help you navigate how to work from home as an architect.
1. Have a Dedicated Work Area
When you work in your office, you work at your desk or drafting table and have all of your office tools, computer, note pad, pens, etc., at your fingertips.
You may think that you’ve got it made working from your couch with the television on, but this will not cut it. You need a dedicated workspace, just like at the office.
Ideally, a room separate from distractions is the best place, especially for creativity. Perhaps you can turn a bedroom, den, or recreation room into an office.
You will need a desk, drafting table, computer, printer, and everything you have at your work office. If you work for an architectural firm, they may provide the necessary equipment, or some things can be taken from your office – with permission.
You should set up your workspace neat and organized, allowing you to have any materials or supplies within easy reach. Any way you do it, you need space that is yours alone, free from distractions, especially if you have children at home.
2. Set an Organized Daily Routine
Working remotely as an architect, you may have visions of endless coffee breaks, workout time, and long lunches.
This could backfire in so many ways.
You need to have a daily routine for this to work and work well. Start your day just the way you normally do – having coffee, eating breakfast, getting dressed, and sticking with a routine.
Yes, getting dressed is the way to go. You may think that working in your pajamas is cool and comfy, but it not only sets the tone for your entire day but would be embarrassing and inappropriate if you stood up during a Zoom meeting.
Since you have no real commute, you can either get straight to work or use that time to take a stroll or jog around the block.
Work in your “work” area only without distractions, and make sure to take breaks. While at the office, you may have taken breaks but most probably discussed business with a colleague at the same time.
These should be real breaks from work where you get some fresh air, coffee, or a snack.
On the other hand, if breaks become too long, this could be a problem. In that case, allow a certain amount of time by setting a timer.
Take a real honest to goodness lunch, not eating at your desk like the old days. Have lunch with your spouse or kids, if possible. Pick up takeout or eat at a diner. You will find that you will be more productive by having some relaxation time.
At the end of your workday, start wrapping it up and straightening your work area close to quitting time.
Set a definite end of workday time and stick with it. Set a timer.
It is easy to get caught up in your work, and the next thing you know, you have been working late into the evening. Some people find that they work longer hours working from home.
This can set you up for exhaustion. Stop working at quitting time.
Take a walk or workout after your workday, just like when you were in the office. Have dinner and downtime with family or friends.
As an architect working from home, you can have the best of both worlds.
3. Find a Way to Minimize Distractions
There will be fewer distractions when working from home than at your office, but they will be different distractions.
If you don’t live alone, chances are your partner may also be working from home, which could be very tricky; adding children to the mix could be even more so.
A babysitter could be the answer if both are working unless they are old enough to occupy themselves.
Many schools are increasingly participating in remote learning, which adds up to more people working from home. They may be at an age to be responsible enough to work on their own.
Smaller children will need help, so your partner or a sitter has to be the answer.
Set a schedule with your family and even post it on your office door or the fridge. Let them know you cannot be disturbed at certain times.
When your door is open, you are available; When closed, keep out.
4. Re-think Your Working Hours
Since working from home has no commute, there is some extra time to dabble with.
Again, you can take a walk before beginning your workday, but if you had an extremely long commute both ways, you might consider getting more work accomplished – perhaps taking on more work if available.
Learning a new skill would also be an excellent idea before or after work. You could polish up an architectural skill you have been grappling with but not had time to perfect.
Start a new hobby that is not work connected, or read a book or magazine.
5. Have One Dedicated Online Communication Tool
Another critical factor when working from home in the architectural field is communication. Communication is the glue that keeps everything together and runny smoothly.
To avoid miscommunication with your team, you should have one dedicated online communication tool. Everyone will communicate in the same place and the same way.
These communication tools fall into three different formats – email, chat rooms, or discussion groups.
A few software programs that are quite helpful are:
- TeamGantt (source),
- ProWorkFlow (source) – which is best for messaging with email and communicating with the entire team,
- Nutcache (source),
- Teamwork (source), and
- Monday.com (source), to name a few.
Some will include clients in the mix. One type of communication tool will ensure that everyone is informed and stays on top of anything out there.
Sometimes, however, a phone call is necessary for getting your point and message across person to person directly.
6. A Team Meeting, Same Time, Once Every Day
If you are an architect in a firm with many colleagues and you share work with them, it is imperative to create time every day for a meeting. You can best accomplish this via video conferencing.
Many companies rely on Zoom meetings (source) to discuss daily business and what is on tap for the future. Everyone can voice their concerns and opinions just as if you were in the office conference room.
It is an excellent way for co-workers to stay in touch but also to keep problems at bay.
7. Have Material Samples Shipped Directly to You
As an architect, you specify materials for the buildings you design – electronic locks, door handles, finishing tiles, etc.
When working from home, you may still need to see and inspect how a material or fitting works before they go onto the specifications list. Request the material suppliers to ship the samples to your house.
Allocate space in the garage so they are organized and can be safely stored when not in use.
8. Bring Essentials from Office to Home
Architects use many tools on a daily basis. Since your office is now in your home, you will need more than just paper and a pen to run a top-notch business.
Bring anything you used at work to your new office – architect scale, 3D printer, architect lamp, adjustable triangle, cutting mat, drafting board and brush, feet-inch-fraction calculator, glue, modeling clay, balsa wood, etc.
All supplies should be at your fingertips because this is your new office.
9. Capitalize on the Work-From-Home Experience
Architects working from home may find that this venture will be very advantageous. If you are working from home, then so are many other business people.
Designing a home office for them might be your next job as working from home is the new normal.
Clients may see a smartly designed and efficient office with all the bells and whistles, and you may be the architect to design it for them.
Professionals in the business world are not the only people looking to work from home.
Many cooks and chefs are moving home to prepare and sell products. They may need a new, larger state-of-the-art kitchen or an addition, possibly even a small outbuilding on their property.
Clients are also incorporating the use of green technology in their building and remodeling plans. Many are aware of the state of the environment and global warming. Green technology can cut down on pollution and reduce waste.
They can accomplish this with your designs and models that can include solar power, programmable thermostats, energy-efficient appliances, and smart power bars.
10. Spruce Up Your Home Office
When video conferencing with clients, everyone can see your home office.
What does your home office say about you?
You are an architect and the client’s architect. Are they going to see your office and be shocked?
Making your dedicated office the best it can be is the way to go both for you and your client. You would like to show that you are neat and organized with a uniquely designed office.
A remodel of the room you are using is an excellent idea for the long term and can show your talents. If plans for the future include permanently working from home, perhaps an unused garage can be gutted and redone, or a small separate building erected.
Take the time to pick comfortable yet classy furniture for your home office, adding an architectural chair and perhaps some built-in shelving.
These things will all pay off in the long run. Clients may want what you have.
Working remotely as an architect can be just as stressful as at the office. Still, the outcome can work out much better by organizing and prioritizing – allowing yourself more time, which you can use to take on freelance work as an architect to supplement your income.
Following these tips can help you transition more smoothly to this new work-from-home setting as an architect.