Working from Treehouse: The Evolution of My Work from Home Experience

Since most of us have been working from home for nearly two months now, I thought it would be a good time to share my personal journey through this era. If you are like me, this hasn’t been a static experience, but has evolved little by little along the way. I’ll share my insights with the hope that some of this will be relevant for enriching your experience.

Evacuation mode

I left the office the afternoon of March 12th and haven’t been back since. When I left, I just brought my laptop home just like I would at the end of a normal day. I didn’t “move out.” I just went home.

Initially, I was just focused on surviving. Optimizing was far from my mind. I was crazy busy, so enhancing my situation wasn’t an immediate concern.

The initial setup

At home, it’s me, my wife, and our four school-age kids. I needed to find a place to work, but also had to find places for everyone else to work. I had a desk in the basement, but my kids use that for their school work. There isn’t a room in the house that I could exclusively call my own.

The best I could do was corner off a section of a room for my purposes. I’m current typing this article from my laptop situated on a plastic folding buffet table in the corner of the breezeway. I’m situated to be looking out the window. This isn’t simply so I can enjoy the view, but has a functional purpose.

Getting the natural light shining on my face is very important for webcam use. I attend plenty of meetings where the natural light is behind the person on-screen, and the picture is terrible. It makes it the person look like they are in a witness protection program. I cannot see their face, only a dark shadow.

There’s a lot of activity behind me, since this room is also the entry to our house. I put up a room divider right behind me. This serves as a nice visual barrier and built-in background for virtual meetings. I’ve received many compliments about my room divider. Many remark that it looks like I am sitting at a sushi restaurant or hanging out in my dojo.

Tech upgrades

One disadvantage of my new workspace was the wifi signal strength. I was situated right on the edge of the range. I upgraded my home wifi to a modern mesh system and was very surprised by the difference it made. Everything across the house got instantly better. I had no idea that the lousy built-in wifi on my ISP router was the culprit.

I also desperately missed my mechanical keyboard that I left at the office. When I knew a co-worker was in the building for other reasons, I asked him to mail it to me. Now I get to type this blog article with a satisfying clickity-clack-clickity-clack-clack-clack.

Ergonomic upgrades

Several weeks into remote work, my back started to ache. I quickly came to the conclusion that my lousy office chair was to blame. Back at the office, I had a high-quality ergonomic office chair. The one I had at home was adequate for my occasional use, but not the all-day, everyday use it was getting now. I reached out to my colleagues in building services for a recommendation. I quickly found a professional-quality office chair through Craigslist for a reasonable price. My back aches quickly went away.


Early in the process of remote work, I strongly advocated for full utilization of video conferencing technologies for remote productivity. I encouraged the use of the camera to make a strong personal connection to those in isolation. I encouraged the use of virtual backgrounds to make virtual meetings fun.

Later, I experienced and learned that there can be too much of a good thing. Countless hours on video calls really takes its toll. I was better able to understand my own fatigue by reading this article by Jenn Granneman: Why Zoom Calls Are So Draining for Introverts.

From there, I introduced a few new practices into my virtual workday. I turned the camera on for some meetings and off for others. Sometimes I made that decision based on the nature of the meeting itself, or based on my energy level at the time.

I also started walking for one-on-one meetings. Typically, those meetings are more conversational and less dependent on screensharing or video. I join the meeting from my mobile device, plug in my ear buds, and briskly walk around the block. If it’s raining, then I pace around my house.

This not only breaks-up the monotony of back-to-back video meetings, it also helps me get my steps in and improves my overall mental health.

Working from Treehouse

I’ll end this article with my most extreme remote work adaptation so far. I moved my office out to the treehouse in the woods. About six years ago, I built a treehouse for my four kids. I don’t consider myself to be particularly handy, so this treehouse is by far my most significant carpentry accomplishment. I wrote an article inspired by that project. Check it out here if you are interested.

Working from home in a house full of other people can be distracting. I often need to put on my noise cancelling headphones just to concentrate. Moving out to the treehouse truly gave me a distraction-free environment for work. It also gave me the serene ambiance of the woods, complete with the sights, sounds, and scents. Fortunately, for now, there aren’t any mosquitoes, but that will soon change.

I only had to make a few adaptations to make this work. First, I had to relocated one of my wifi mesh nodes for better coverage. Then, I had to make sure I used my noise-cancelling headphones for conference calls, so my voice didn’t compete with the ambient sound of croaking frogs in the nearby pond.

You may not have a treehouse, but you can probably still put this into practice in some way. Have you tried working from your front porch, patio, or deck when the weather is nice? Make sure you find some way to mix it up.

How about you?

We’re all on this journey together. I thought it would be helpful to share the lessons I’ve learned and the adaptations I’ve made along the way. I’d really like to learn from you. How have you changed how you work from home over the weeks? What lessons have you learned? Please share, as I’m always looking for ways to make this experience better.

Read this article on my blog site or listen to it on my podcast🎙️



Technology Leader at CHS. Passionate about leadership and innovation. Posts are my own.

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Zach Hughes

Technology Leader at CHS. Passionate about leadership and innovation. Posts are my own.