How We Work from Home
The global pandemic upended the way we work. Work from home takes on new meaning for us every day, as the technologies and hardware that enable remote work continue to improve. State guidelines are changing as well, which means that our response as a company evolves as we listen to and address the feedback from our employees, customers, and partners.
Cerna has long held a close relationship with remote work since our founding in 2012, embracing the flexibility to work from home not only as a unique benefit—but as an asset to our corporate culture. Before the pandemic began, over 80% of our team members were remote full-time. This enabled our company to flip the switch from partially remote, to fully remote, and then back again.
Here's how we adapted to the new reality of 2020, with home offices customized to meet our unique needs and tested to maximize our productivity.
As California's public policy seesawed from lockdown, to open, and back again; many of the Cerna team members who usually worked from our corporate office in Southern California took the opportunity to repurpose their home for extended office use. One such person is Cory Bockhorst, who is our Business Operations Assistant and works closely with our Founder, Matt Kite.
Cory had it the hardest, as she never worked from home before the pandemic. “I normally work in our corporate office, but with the new stay at home order, I had to improvise," she says. Leaning up against the walls of her office is a box spring and mattress. "Luckily, I have a spare room, which is why the guest room’s bed was moved to make room for my desk."
Puppies rejoiced this year, as dog adoptions soared across the country. One of these adoptions was by Cory in early October. Both she and her new puppy are enjoying the time together at home. "She sleeps on her bed or entertains herself during my workday. We lucked out with her temper and how easy it has been to work from home with her.”
For those considering adopting a dog as well, or having trouble with one already at home, Embark recommends sticking to a regular schedule with canine friends. This includes starting the day off with a dog walk and setting designated playtimes.
Across the country in New York, David Tessaro–our Graphic Designer–approached his small space with optimization and ambiance in mind.
“I live in a tiny apartment in Manhattan, which, for better or for worse, compelled me to get creative with my work from home set up," explains David. The brights hues throughout the photos? "Those are Logitech RBG peripherals which can be adjusted to match my mood and add ambiance to my space. The plants throughout my office also add life to my little corner, while the folded tapestry is a clever way to cover the nicks on my desk."
He points out that his work from home experience was not always so comfortable. "I started working from home back in 2018, in a Chinatown room the size of a closet. I would prop up pillows behind me on my bed and use an old picture frame as a lap desk." This resulted in regular lower back pain, admits David. "When I upgraded to a new apartment shortly after joining Cerna, I spent months looking for the perfect desk chair that balanced budget and features." Underneath the blanket in the right photo, is a grey Autonomous MyoChair that doubles as both an ergonomic computer chair during work hours, and a reclining lounge chair during entertainment hours.
For clear and personal video calls, David recommends purchasing a ring light. They come either as attachments or standing lights, and they are great face illuminators. "The key to great lighting," David says, "is to be able to see the eyes clearly. In my particular setup, I get powerful light coming in from my window that overexposes the left half of my face while leaving the right half of my face dark. By positioning a ring light slightly to the right of me, I am able to balance out the lighting for video calls."
To eliminate distractions during video calls, David recommends a room divider. "At the beginning of the lockdown in New York City, I was no longer a stranger to home disturbances. I think many people can relate to having kids, roommates, or even pets walk into your video feed in the middle of a meeting." He explains that he tried using Zoom's virtual background, but it didn't work well for him due to all the objects behind him. "If you have tried using a virtual background and are disappointed with the results, like me, try using a room divider. They are perhaps the most effective and flexible privacy screens that don't drain computational power or require solid backgrounds."
Kim Perez–Solutions Architect at Cerna–takes the prize for the most screens, coming in at four total. She explains her setup: "I have a standing desk with dual monitors and a laptop to give me ample screen space to get my work done." For Kim, keeping her family close while staying informed is just the right amount of distraction. Her Alexa Show accomplishes this by rotating through pictures of her friends, family and the latest news updates.
Tanner Kibler–our Senior Technical Consultant–built an elaborate desk to balance his workday between sitting and standing. A University of Waterloo study advises people to stand for at least 30 minutes per hour to get health benefits. (Waterloo’s Department of Kinesiology found that the ideal sit-stand ratio lies somewhere between 1:1 and 1:3 – a vast departure from traditional wisdom.) While Tanner did not provide his own daily sit-to-stand ratio, he did stress the easygoing nature of his workspace: "It stays a bit messy, but there is plenty of room for mess and activities with this much desk.”