Category Archives: technology

Working From Home? Are you ready? Prepared? 2020 Edition

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Here are six takeaways to make sure that you are ready to work from home and avoid making mistakes working from home. Thanks to mass media and social media, you may be led to believe the world is not a safe place to live in. (Hint: it’s not true, the world is actually safer than it has been, the statistics prove so, including the United States.)

However, with the coronavirus (COVID-19), you won’t know when your employer is going to consider asking you to not show up to the office but work from home. It can be very sudden and you should be prepared.

I understand that an office is simply not necessary to go to work if you are a knowledge worker; it’s an easy way for an employer to cut overhead costs, and make it flexible for workers to work anywhere they feel like it. However, we must avoid being ableist during these extenuating circumstances. Moving forward, here are six takeaways to help you prepare. From my experience having my first professional job involved teleworking, I know what it’s like working from home and for some it’s a wonder and for others it’s not a pleasant experience. For me, I prefer seeing people. Others have may have no choice between either office experience.

Make Sure You Have an Ergonomic Setup

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Depending on your employer, you may or may not have the support for ergonomic desks and chairs. This comfort is where you may want to spend money (from $300 and upwards) for a high-quality ergonomic chair. Imagine sitting in that chair for 52 weeks or more than 250 days or more than 2000 hours each year. You deserve a chair that lasts for a long time and will be worth every single penny for your back and comfort.

If sitting is not your preference, perhaps a standing desk is your choice. These are expensive, but completely worth having.

Without an ergonomic setup at home, you may cause injury to your body when you least expect it. There is a reason for those accommodations to ensure that you sit correctly and prevent any unnecessary body discomfort that could become permanent after time. This paragraph serves as advice from a young professional to new and young professionals.

Make Space For You

While working from home may sound luxurious, you need a space in your house that is dedicated to work. With email being actively attached to our pockets, it’s hard to keep work away from home. Now that work is at home, whether your situation is telework, home business, or relegated to working from home because of circumstances beyond your control, you deserve a work space that is separate from the home.

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If that’s not possible to carve out a room, ensure that a desk is reserved only for work and just work. Mingling between home and work business can have problems where you might make mistakes. Also if you have family, the desk is a domain where you get to work and it won’t be distracted by the busy thrill of working from home.

Get a Reliable Internet Service

And with a reliable internet service, a backup in case your primary internet service goes offline. While home internet is fairly reliable, there are times when the internet goes out, slows to a crawl because of bandwidth capacity, and it might take a while to fully get back online. Consider the time it might take to recover after a storm, power outage, or error from the ISP.

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In those cases, what do you do? Choose a mobile data plan that offers tethering or a service that offers affordable tethering. While it might not substitute for intense internet, it can suffice for email and chat programs. It might not be great for transferring large files or conducting high-definition video conferencing.

From my experience, data tethering isn’t exciting and I’ve done it while riding as a passenger in a car across Texas where data service was not reliable. I was able to get work done, however I would have preferred being connected to a reliable service. Your region may have many different internet service providers with a varying degree of service quality.

Set Yourself Boundaries

Going back to carving out your own space, it’s helpful to set up boundaries so you are not constantly bogged down with the whims of living and working at home. It might be nice to work from home and avoid the commute to the office, yet you are faced with challenges that you might not see at work. These include pets, chores, children, family, errands, etc. It’s kind of funny to think that you have to set boundaries, but essential to get work done.

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These boundaries don’t have to be strict, but it ensures that you get the most out of your work without being distracted. It can tend to be distracting if there are mounting responsibilities at home where working from home is not productive. I’ll let you use your best judgement here because every home situation is different.

For me, I had to set limits to what I could not do at home. With the internet and working from home, it’s very possible to find avenues of distraction that aren’t productive. It might be great once in a while to take a break from focusing on work, but it depends on your home situation.

Make a Schedule

This seems like a silly suggestion, but I am reminding you here. Make a schedule. It’s very easy to skip lunch, miss out on appointments, or do work once you get your second wind for the night. Make your schedule and keep it. Much like how many of us have meetings and conference calls during the day, make it an opportunity to change your routine so you don’t feel burned out sitting in the same area of the house all day long working. Make a schedule.

Set a schedule to visit with friends and stick to them. Since the commute from home to the office is just a hallway, how about make time for friends after work? It can be a pleasant experience in order to adjust while working at home. Now that the pandemic is shutting things down, consider changing it up by enjoying time with friends via text message, video chat, and even that genuine phone call. People have smartphones, be smart and use the phone part! Even a walk around the block or the park can be a relief from staying cooped up indoors for what may turn out to feel like an eternity.

Go Outside Once in a While

One thing I noticed very early on when working from home: I would never go outside. This may seem trivial at first, but I would never even make it out the door for days. While this may seem extreme, you may not notice it unless you have social activities, pets (read: dogs), or children. The longest I would stay inside would be nearly four days. This is weird of me to say this, but it really didn’t help me that I would work at home and keep myself entertained at home, and only leave the house if I needed food or had a social activity. That is no way to live.

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Make yourself available for your friends if you get into that situation. It might not be asking for much if you are mobile and if the weather allows, for you to step out for lunch, take a walk, or make it a habit to invite friends to dinner or events (when you or your friends are not sick). You deserve a healthy lifestyle where you can be happy while working from home.


Working from home is a wonderful dream and many of us professionals have the ability and freedom to do so. What I suggest is to look into these factors before you jump into working from home. You may feel that working from home is luxurious, a dream, but there are reasons why some folks work from home because of their circumstances. You might encounter realities where you might form unsavory habits that cause you to slack by teleworking. I know there are horror stories of folks not dressing up, only wear underwear, or staying in pajamas all day. If you get the opportunity because of your job, consider cherishing this temporary privilege to work from home and present that kind of ethic when you log on from home to go to work.

Need More Guidance?

TechComm Communities for 2020

Once in a while, you wonder where the discussion has gone for technical communicators. A lot has changed since founding this website in 2011. In those nearly ten years, much of the online landscape has changed from MySpace to TikTok.


To not frighten folks who regularly come across my blog, here are places where you can discuss TechComm and related fields, online. There are quite lively conversations where you might learn something new or chime in with your thoughts. Did I miss anything? Let me know!

Reddit sub-reddits

Twitter Hashtags & Lists

LinkedIn Groups

Facebook Groups


Blazing Site Speed & SEO

One of the most unique things about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that fascinates me is how Google ranks site speed on a website as one of 200 important factors of how a website is presented on their search results.

A slow website is a slow website and why would you want to go to a slow website? It might have been OK when we were on dialup, on the first generation residential always-on connection (somewhere around the 2000s), or gasp! on 2 or 3G networks.


This got me thinking, what if you own a WordPress site and you’re scratching your head how to make some improvements?

Like scratching your head wondering how to make improvements for years?

Years…I’m exaggerating and I admit it is true.

What boggled my mind is how I’ve been befuddled with such slow WordPress sites for years. Google Search Console, Google Page Insights, GT Metrix, YSlow would tell me to fix things so make the user experience (UX) of landing on my website a fast experience. Yes, you can probably chastise me by saying, “You,” shaking your finger at me, “why didn’t you optimize your website based on those results and optimization recommendations?”

Kitchen Sink of Optimizations

I did. I read countless blog posts that tell me to off-load unused plugins, make image file sizes smaller, install optimization plugins, etc. For the even more advanced, even put this website onto a content delivery network (CDN) to speed things up with an attempt to make it truly SSL when Google began adjusting their algorithm to include serving secure content as a factor for displaying search results.

It moved the improvement needle a little bit and made the website experience slightly better, which was better than nothing.

What vexed me was trying to understand how to make my sites jump as if you were on an internal networked server. This was what I was used to when developing websites on a local machine. When it came to putting that work on a server, things were different.

The site would load slow and struggled to finish loading.

Then…The Lightbulb Moment!

I was still on the hunt to make it easier for websites to load and run faster. Of the plugins I was using helped optimize code and image. The first, code optimization came in the form of compressing the code, deferring code loading, and removing duplicate code. The latter was managing the size of images so they still load in an acceptable form that wouldn’t be noticeable to the eye.

Those code and image changes did some improvements, but it wasn’t until I began looking into how to defer JavaScript (JS) that helped reign in some of those load times. For the novice, which is really a majority of folks out there, browsers need to parse the HTML to load the page. If the code to run all JS is at the top of a page, it slows the load-time (especially if it’s loading JS from other distant servers that are not the ones hosting your website). 

To put it in simpler terms: JS is nice when it’s needed for a purpose, but what really matters is loading the first image and text of a website, then the rest of the fancy features can load in the background as long as the user does not notice it.

Deferring JS code to the bottom of the page doesn’t hurt, it’s more of rearranging the way a website loads without the wait.

The Nitty Gritty Details

To get further into detail, use the W3TC Total Cache WordPress plugin, under the Minify settings, go to the JS minify settings, and use the JS file management settings to selectively load certain JS files (such as external JS and non-themed-affecting JS) lower on the page rather than keeping that code at the top.

Try this kind of setting to optimize loading your JS.

There you go! Optimize your website and make life faster! Your users will totally love you for your diligence on improving the UX.