Contributed by:
Sonya Shah
Assoc. AIA

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From the Desk of an Aspiring Architect: Sonya Shah, Assoc. AIA

Sonya Shah, Assoc. AIA, shares her home office (and art studio!) and tips for working from home this week for "From the Desk of an
Aspiring Architect"!

What is your favorite/most meaningful object at your workspace?

The most meaningful and favorite object in my workspace is my photography and artwork. This space is where I feel safe and can let my creativity be free. I keep my watercolor set open just in case I feel stuck. 

What are your tips for staying productive while working from home?

Tips for staying productive: Maintain a routine. Most of us have an adjusted commute to our work spaces so capitalize on the extra time. Treat it like a work day. Get dressed. Make coffee. Stay hydrated. Take scheduled breaks to go outside. Make action item lists. Schedule regular meetings to check in. 

How are you staying connected to your team? To your clients?

Technology- Zoom, Email, Microsoft Teams, and good ole phone call / text messaging.

How would you manage complex projects with large teams remotely?

Communication is key along with keeping your calendar up to date. We check in with each other every day. Whether it’s going over deliverables and task lists, sending a meme, or pictures of your fur babies, we make the time say hi.   

If you had a problem when the rest of your remote team was offline, how would you go about solving it?

Thoughtfully and creatively and being prepared. There needs to be a clear line of understanding and communication and availability. We held training sessions, addressed expectations and work arounds to things that may be a little off. Some have kids, other may be dealing with hardships through all of this. We are there for each other and respect one another and understand the urgency of a matter as it may arise.  

What’s your biggest concern about working remotely?

The biggest challenge to me is missing the face to face interaction and collaboration on the spot. You have to be patient. In person you are able to read a room and adjust accordingly – it’s far more difficult to read in between the lines of an email or message.

What would be on your playlist of top 5 go-to songs for work? Have a favorite Spotify playlist for work?

Right now I am studying for the AREs- so my track list consists of lectures from various exam prep sources – however, I do live in a Beatles household, so Rubber Soul has been on repeat all week.

How do you unwind after working from home?

The best part about WFH is not having a commute. When I “sign off” for the day I take my dogs on a walk, with a glass of wine in hand and then COOK dinner.

How are you staying active?

It’s incredible what gyms and studios are doing to engage with their members. My instructors have social media live streams for at home work outs which makes it fun and easy to stay active. I don’t have to worry about racing to a class. I build in the time for me when it seems fit- whether it be running a mile over lunch or right after I am done with the work day. I keep a set of weights beside my desk in case I need to do something to move.

Another way I stay active is through teams –there is a group of us that comes up with daily moves, for example do 10 pushups at 3pm. This is a fun way to stay engaged but active since the walk to the restroom and kitchen is far shorter than what I am used to at the office.

Any tips for maintaining balance and separating work from home-life?

Setting clear expectations of your availability with your family and your coworkers. Treat yourself after the work day. Make sure you schedule sometime with your family. My husband and I find a break in our day to enjoy lunch, a snack, or a LaCroix while playing with our pups.  We work in separate areas of the house to ensure some privacy and productivity. It is nice though to give a hug (as long as he isn’t on a video call) as I make my way to refrigerator.


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