Adversity Breeds Innovation

Last week was an interesting week for the Gambinos, as it was for most American families. We made our mad dash for household essentials and started to reconsider plans we had with friends and family. Like many Americans, our employers informed us of their new work-from-home policy. Yes, both Alissa and I will be working from home for the foreseeable future.

We live in a relatively large two bedroom apartment, with the second bedroom occupied by our toddler roommate, but finding the space for both of us to get our work done wasn’t too difficult. We actually have a desk already positioned in one of the corners of the apartment, however it rarely sees the light of day and is often covered in paperwork and mail. That all changed Friday evening as I removed all clutter from the desk and placed some of the Kate Spade office wear I had purchased for Alissa.

Alissa’s Home Office

Ok, so one desk down, one to go. And let me tell you, at no point did I consider our dining room table. My recommendation for working from home is to have a space dedicated that won’t disrupt your life after hours. Clearing off the table from the work day to reset it in the morning is not a routine I wanted to get into, so I had to find another space. To provide my wife with the privacy to record her lectures and for me to take calls without causing too much interruption, I knew my desk had to be in our bedroom.

As I mentioned previously, our apartment is relatively large. We do have a nice sized living room, large enough to accommodate a work space for my wife, and when it comes to the bedroom, it is pretty spacious as well. One drawback though, we have a lot of stuff. It’s not that we have big furniture, it’s that my wife and I have a rather extensive wardrobe. It’s funny that we’ll be working from home, and we can be a little more casual than usual for a bit, putting some recent attire acquisitions on the back-burner.

Anyway, the only spot I could possibly see for my desk was occupied by a brown leather club chair covered in said wardrobe. I knew what had to be done and it was a hard pill to swallow. Let me tell you about this club chair. It’s not particularly nice, not anymore at least, but it represented a sort of rebirth for me. It was one of the first pieces of furniture I bought after Hurricane Sandy, and it’s moved with me several times since 2013. Over the years and through the moves, the leather started to crack and peel, but a chair cover quietly hid the scars of time.

After I moved the chair out of position and removed the cover, my daughter came into the room, looking for me. I scooped her up and gave her a book to read while sitting in the time-worn chair. This wasn’t some sort of heirloom that I was hoping to pass down to her someday. This was a chair that served a purpose, to this point. So, with a heavy heart, I relocated the brown leather club chair to the dumpster. It wasn’t an easy feat as it involved the removing of baby gates, but once it was out of the apartment, a sort of weight was lifted. Not because the chair was a burden, but because I found a spot for my desk.

The next step was setting up the desk. I had been looking online for desks and if the current state of the world was different, I’d go to Ikea and pick one up. Oh, I do love IKEA. Wait, I had a desk from Ikea. Wait, I HAVE a desk from IKEA, broken down and stored under the chaise of the couch in the living room. Once I retrieved it from under the couch and screwed the legs in, I was off to the races, as they say. I set up my work laptop positioned on a shoe box so I wouldn’t be straining my neck, with the keyboard and mouse from my desk at work.

Chris’ Home Office Mach-1

I knew that even though I was going to be working from home, I would be required to webchat from time to time, which would include video chatting. The smarty pants I am said, “I wonder how it’s going to look.” Well, oops is all I have to say about that. With my desk against the wall, the background behind me was clutter-city. This was not going to work. I even tried pulled up the projector screen I purchased on a whim last summer, and it was just clunky and in the way, though it did block the clutter. “Crap,” I thought to myself, “what do I do?” I turned the desk. Now, when on the webcam, you see my closet doors, and as long as they are closed, it will look professional enough.

Cluttered-View: No Good
Projector Screen Hides the Clutter

With the desk in position, I’m ready to go for Monday, but I’m not done setting up the space. I have an office chair coming this week, along with a low profile hutch with small drawers for pens and such, both from Wayfair. One big difference between my desk at work and my current situation at home is that I have two 19 inch monitors at work, compared to my 15 inch laptop screen. To rectify the situation, I ordered a 32 inch Android TV from Walmart which will function nicely to replicate the functionality of those two monitors.

Another issue I’m going to come up against is that the desk was meant to be against the wall and I was going to mount the TV/Monitor right in front of it. Now, with the desk perpendicular to the wall, the monitor is going to have to come out from the wall, which should work with the articulating arm I already have.

So, as we adapt to this new temporary lifestyle, I like to consider how this adversity adjusted our lives, our home. If not faced with this need to adapt, Alissa’s desk would remain cluttered, and my club chair would stay tattered and torn under a mountain of freshly folded clothes. With certainty I can say more changes are on the way. At least our desks are ready for Monday morning.

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