Julie Clark Lingen and her husband, Brad Lingen, reflect one of the new trends in the Sioux Falls workforce. They both work from a home office, at least for now.
Julie, who is a self-employed life coach, author and speaker, has been working out of a home office for more than seven years. Brad works for Missouri River Energy Services as a smart grid technical specialist. He joined his wife as a home-based worker after his agency temporarily closed its office to public access on March 16 to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Brad brought a lot of the equipment and décor from his regular office home to set up a remote work station in the basement of the couple’s house. Julie, meanwhile, continues to work out of a converted bedroom on the second floor.
“I’ve really copied and pasted my normal office into the man cave. Julie is in the penthouse,” he jokes.
On workdays, they try to meet for lunch and take an occasional break together in the main-floor kitchen. They exchange occasional messages during work hours, too, but they also respect each other’s privacy, especially when an office door is closed.
“We’ve been doing really well. It’s fun to have a coworker,” Julie said.
A lot of responsible businesses in the Sioux Falls area, including SDN Communications in Sioux Falls, have sent significant numbers of workers home to help fight the spread of COVID-19.
With the pandemic creating anxiety and distress in some working households, Julie and Brad seemed like a good couple to interview, because they are so upbeat and supportive of each other and others.
Julie enjoyed the laughter she heard coming from her husband’s office one day after work. With the help of communications technology, he and some of his work colleagues were sharing a drink and conversation in a virtual happy hour.
She encourages everyone worried about virus-related disruptions in their lives to focus on the positives of their work and everyday life. “Be grateful for what is still good in your life,” she said. “We’ve got a lot to be thankful for.”
She is motivated to enjoy every minute of life largely by the cruel reality that she lives with a 50 percent risk of developing Huntington’s Disease, which is an incurable, genetic disorder that could start cutting her life short at any moment.
Earlier in her career, she wrote an award-winning book: “Inspirational Coffee Breaks for Women: 12 Ground rules for Pouring Your Heart into Life.” More recently, she has been molding her career around the slogan, “Life Is Short … Get to Living!” She champions what she calls “The Regret Prevention Movement.”
As for practical, everyday advice for home-based workers, she stresses the importance of maintaining a routine. Under normal circumstances, she would get up at 5:20 a.m., go to an exercise class, return home, enjoy a cup of coffee, take a shower and dress for work. The routine helps her feel ready to be productive, she said. Her routine is somewhat altered, at the present, because her gym has temporarily closed.
Her supportive husband is more likely to dress casually for work, which is fine, she said, because people are different. The two design their work areas differently, too, which also is fine, too. However, she thinks all home-based workers can benefit from having a regular work area.
“I suggest keeping a dedicated office space, so that you can separate your work time from your personal time,” she said.
As for other challenges related to working from home, one of the toughest might be the temptation to snack too often.
“One of the hard things about working at home is the break room is always open. The kitchen is always there,” she said.
If anyone has a surefire solution for dealing with that challenge, please let the rest of us know.
Meanwhile, SDN’s 50,000-mile network of fiber will continue to help businesses and working people, and students across the region. A number of SDN customers have reached out to the company recently to request increased bandwidth, security services and other tools to help workers and students remain productive. SDN strives to respond quickly to requests, knowing these are urgent times, and the company will continue to do so.
SDN is a leader in providing business internet, private networking and cloud connectivity to businesses and organizations in communities such as Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Worthington, and the surrounding areas.