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Working from home: how a smart home can become your ally

Are you one of the many workers who’s had to turn their living room or another room into an office? Find out how a smart home can improve your 9 to 5 life!

Like millions of Quebecers, Jean-Pierre, a manager, has discovered the joys of working from home. “I never had a home office before. I would sometimes work at the dining room table in the evening or on weekends,” says the father of three. When the lockdown started, he set up his office headquarters in the basement, away from the family commotion. “I had to reorganize my schedule around the presence of my children in the house, but I also had to learn how to work remotely with my team. Let’s just say my life is a never-ending meeting,” says Jean-Pierre, a man for whom video conferencing holds no more secrets. Sound familiar?

Regardless of his daily life being turned upside down, Jean-Pierre feels that his smart home is a real ally in these unprecedented times. Reprogramming his connected devices to fit his new reality was child’s play. “Before, the lights would turn off after we left for work. The temperature went down, then back up shortly before our return, so it was comfortable upon our arrival. We live in a two-storey home that has about 15 rooms. Instead of going into each room to adjust the thermostats, I was able to make the changes in just a few minutes from the Hilo app,” he adds.

Still today, Jean-Pierre starts his day off with a hot coffee—his coffee machine, connected with a plug-in smart switch, turns on automatically when he wakes up. Then, instead of driving 45 minutes to get to work, he heads to the basement where a smart thermostat maintains the right room temperature while the air quality and humidity level are monitored by a Netatmo weather station. “Since I spend the day in the same room, comfort is a top priority,” he says.

More comfort means increased performance

According to Tiiu Poldma, a professor at the Faculty of Environmental Design at Université de Montréal’s School of Design, our workspace has an impact on our performance. “By working at home, we have more control over our environment and can benefit from more comfort, which can help us to be more productive,” she says. In addition to a flexible schedule, working from home gives us the latitude to organize our office based on our needs—which isn’t always the case at a company office, where we have to deal with cubicles and open spaces.

“Even if we live in a small apartment, we can easily set ourselves up in a comfortable corner,” states Poldma. “The important thing is to feel comfortable where we are.” According to her, the main focus has to be on ergonomic furniture: namely, an adjustable table and chair. She also suggests combining several light sources; for example, a light fixture, an office lamp and a window with plenty of natural light. Why? Because having only one type of lighting creates contrast, which can interfere with concentration. Her recommendations include: make the most of your smart home by programming different types of lighting that can be used alternately throughout the day, based on the tasks at hand or the amount of natural light. The idea is to also minimize any possible distractions. “For example, if your lamp is making a crackling sound, or if you feel hot or cold, you’ll likely get distracted,” says Poldma. In terms of comfort, a smart home can offer better performance than a company office, where air conditioning and heating are often a topic of discussion!

More control means increased peace of mind

Jean-Pierre is happy to be able to have lunch at home every day—and with his kids, these days. Although working under the same roof with them is still a daily challenge! But there again, his smart home makes life easier. He has plugged the TV and video game console on a plug-in smart switch, enabling him to better control the amount of time his children spend in front of the screen. When they play outdoors and the light turns on at the time he programmed it, they know it’s time to come in. “It’s a classic strategy that my parents used to use!” He even discovered a very useful feature of the Netatmo weather station: sensors allow him to monitor sound/noise levels on the ground floor. It’s a great way to know if the children are really napping. “Now, I feel like I have better control over what’s happening in my home,” he says, with some relief. This peace of mind helps him better concentrate on his work.

4 ways to make the most of your smart home while working from home

  1. Eliminate distractions by controlling your home’s temperature; neither too hot nor too cold.
  2. Alternate between types of lighting depending on your mood and productivity cycles.
  3. Monitor your children’s nap times with the weather station’s sound sensors.
  4. Make your life easier by controlling everything that happens in your home via an app.