WAH

As a writer in the technology sector, I’m very accustomed to the advantages and convenience of working at home (a.k.a., WAH). In fact, for the last several years my schedule has been to work at home in the morning, taking calls and meetings with colleagues located all over the world, and then to commute to the office for the afternoon. It’s been a wonderful and flexible schedule.

Sheltering in place and COVID-19 has changed everything. For the past 2 1/2 months I have been working at home exclusively, along with everyone else. My employer has let us know that most of us will probably continue to work at home through the end of the year, with offices opening at reduced capacity for essential business or productivity reasons only. This is out of an abundance of caution for employee health and safety (and because it seems to be working).

Find a dedicated space for your home office

Some best practices for working at home:

  • Home Office Dedicate a room or corner of a room to be your office. When you’re in this space, you’re working. Keep it generally clean and uncluttered except for objects that inspire.
  • Tool Up Make sure you have the equipment and internet connection you need. Your company may be able to help. Know who to contact for IT help.
  • Dress for Success Take care of yourself, dress for work, comb your hair, wear makeup. Even if nobody sees you, it inspires confidence and competence within yourself, and conveys professionalism when you interact online.
  • Take Breaks Get up and move around during the work day, and take a lunch break. Do something different. Get some exercise and fresh air. Just because you can work straight through for 12 hours, doesn’t mean you should.
  • Stay Social Take regular social breaks – you’re wired for people. Send a text, pick up the phone, or schedule a social call via Zoom, Skype, or Teams. Stay connected to your friends and family, as well as your professional network.

Now that I know the situation is semi-permanent, I plan to make the most of the experience. It’s easy to end up working long hours (a couple extra hours are freed up from commuting and long lunches), but maybe it is better to devote that extra time to learning, dreaming, and creating instead.

Toolkit: Gimbal to Go

I added a new tool to my arsenal of movie-making paraphernalia this Christmas, a DJI OSMO Mobile 3. The gimbal pairs with your cell phone via Bluetooth, and provides an easy-to-hold handle, with controls for taking photos and movies. The gimbal acts as a stabilizer so that videos are fluid rather than jerky.

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You can easily zoom in and out, switch to selfie mode and back, and automatically rotate the phone from portrait to landscape mode.  You can also adjust settings such as lighting, flash, and special effects. The handle folds down to fit in a compact space for transport, and comes with a portable tripod (or can connect to a more substantial one).

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So far my only complaint is that I am forced to use the DJI Mimo app and camera, and to manage files through the app. I cannot specify that files be automatically uploaded to the storage of my choice, such as Google Photos or Dropbox.  Instead I must preview the results, then take a specific step to move each file to storage. This seems very restrictive and cumbersome, with a definite bias to someone uploading immediately to Facebook (not an amateur film maker with bigger plans).

Still the gimbal is light, easy-to-use, and provides wonderful stabilization. I’ve had so much fun taking videos, selfies, and stills, and been really happy with the results. I have yet to delve into Sports mode, Story mode, and gestures, so there is more to learn, and more fun to come (stay tuned)! I highly recommend this tool for the fledgling movie maker.

American Workforce Policy

On July 19, 2018 President Trump signed an executive order to establish the National Council of the American Worker. The American Workforce Policy Advisory Board meets quarterly to discuss a national strategy for training and retooling the American workforce. The board is comprised of 25 leaders from diverse backgrounds in business, education, academia, and the public and private sector; and is co-chaired by Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump, and Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross.

Over 300 companies and associations have signed a pledge to the American worker promising to  increase opportunities over the next five years. With technology, the economy, and social forces changing at an unprecedented rate, the group meets to discuss how to equip the workforce to adapt and change as well. The Advisory Board met in September to propose and vote on several industry-lead strategies.

Strategic ideas include recognizing multiple paths to career success (skills versus degrees); providing learning records that are easy to access, transfer, and share with employers; democratizing candidate recruitment and training, targeting unemployed and underemployed folks in opportunity zones, and working with schools to prepare future workers. Also discussed was finding better ways to measure progress and success for employer-lead training initiatives, and crafting a common vocabulary for sharing concepts across the groups involved.

The emphasis is on finding an industry-education-worker-policy solution, rather than creating a government agency to cause change. This makes sense since industry should have an idea of the skills needed for the modern workforce. The effort may go a long way to ensure American works aren’t left behind (and to dim the memory of industry abandoning the American workforce in years past in favor of cheap labor elsewhere). I’m looking forward to tracking progress, and learning how to keep my toolkit current!