Talk About It
From the Desk of an Architect: Mahbuba Khan, AIA
Mahbuba Khan, AIA, shares her home office, introduces some of her IT, Accounting, and Revit support, and shows us around her garden for this week's, "From the Desk of an Architect!"
What is your favorite/most meaningful object at your workspace?
Walking into my octagonal shaped home office with large windows, opening the blinds to check out the sky, every bud in the dwarf fruit trees and the blooming roses are the most meaningful objects in my work space besides my boys and husband who not only share the office space but also provide IT, Accounting, and Revit drafting support for MnKhan.
What are your tips for staying productive while working from home?
Pretend you are at work and stick to the schedule of your calendar. Train your family to understand that you will be available after work. Ignore all chores, they can wait just like they wait when you drive out of the house. When I first started my firm, it took me six months to convince my mom that I am just not sitting in front of the computer, I am actually earning my livelihood staring at the computer monitor.
I was headed to Coppell Recreational Development board meeting, which could be online, but they needed my signature for a construction award contract
How are you staying connected to your team? To your clients?
Dropping short and sweet emails, texts, or calls based on the person's preference helps me stay connected. Especially at this time, reach out to people beyond your current team or clients and offer any help you may afford.
How would you manage complex projects with large teams remotely?
My teammates are pretty responsible, I still feel unconformable with long silence from their end or being unable to reach them at their regular number. I just have to trust their professionalism and give them room with reasonable limits as long we don't miss a deadline. I am trying to get additional time from clients because of the current uncertain times.
My Job as a bond project manager at City of Dallas is changing overnight to adopt to electronic document signatures and routing of pay applications and other paperwork. Announcing new projects, selecting a team of consultants and contractors, and continuing construction management following the updated directives for large complex projects is challenging. However these changes were long overdue.
If you had a problem when the rest of your remote team was offline, how would you go about solving it?
I face this problem in my practice from time to time as I work after hours and weekends. I end up spending lot of time writing emails to multiple people to explain something which could have been solved in a short phone call, a face-to-face meeting, or brainstorming on site.
What’s your biggest concern about working remotely?
Working remotely for a long term will cause us to lose the personal touch and closeness.
My overgrown house plants and oil painting done while I was in college.
What would be on your playlist of top 5 go-to songs for work? Have a favorite Spotify playlist for work?
I don't exactly have a playlist. I listen to NPR podcasts a lot and listen to random musics to cheer me up when I am not in meetings.
How do you unwind after working from home?
I unwind by cooking, gardening, and watching movies in our media room. Inspired by Tamma Forasiepi, AIA, we also go out for nature photography.
Now that the days are longer I can work in the garden even after work.
Every year we grow some vegetable, this year I challenged our boys to help me grow more organic veggies, herbs, and fruits so we may not have to depend on supermarkets for fresh produce. We already had a good harvest of salad green this spring and just planted summer vegetables.
How are you staying active?
I realized that hiking and outdoor activities are the best way to connect with our teen boys, so we started exploring city and state parks. Last year we found many of our favorite places. We also play some family backyard soccer and basketball games and follow core workout videos.
Grapevine Mills Lake hiking
Any tips for maintaining balance and separating work from home-life?
I have an alarm set in my phone to log in at 8 am and log off at 5 PM from my computer for my City job. When I get off, I cook, play with family, watch a little cheesy TV, then get back to work later in the night. Sometimes I will watch late night comedy shows too. Keeping the groceries stockaded and planning 2 meals for a family of six including my mom was a daunting task, especially the nights I had my master’s class at UNT in Denton. But now that I don’t have to fight the traffic and all classes are online, I actually enjoy the cooking.
Dinner is not always this grand, but always fun.
My home office was already equipped to work efficiently, however being a people person, I am missing the human interactions, hugs and warmth, and the love. In an ideal world I would love to have a mixture of remote work, some time in the office for face to face meetings, and job site visits.