Bobby Berk Knows Working From Home Is Hard. He’s Got Some Advice
The “Queer Eye” star shared easy tips with NowThis on how you can make working from home bearable and modify traditions this year to safely enjoy the holiday season.
Superstar interior designer Bobby Berk knows that working from home has been tough for a lot of people. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many to adapt to remote working or learning, which has led to feelings of stress and being overworked.
Berk told NowThis that some simple alterations to your home or work area can make a difference in keeping you focused during your work or school day.
“When I'm surrounded by chaos, my mind is chaotic too,” Berk said in an interview.
Berk is best known for his impressive (and quick) home makeovers on the hit Netflix show “Queer Eye.” As part of the Fab Five, Berk transforms the homes of the “heroes,” turning them into spaces that are both functional and customized to the person’s needs.
The COVID-19 pandemic completely upended everyone’s daily lives, and Berk was no exception; the Fab Five had to pause filming earlier this year for the upcoming sixth season set in Austin, TX.
“I think two months into [the pandemic] was the longest I've been home for 10 years, with my design firm before and then ‘Queer Eye,’” Berk said. “So it's been kind of nice. I've enjoyed it.”
The Work From Home Struggle Is Real
A survey conducted by PayPal found that many people working or going to school from home are struggling to make the transition work. The survey found that 27% of millennials and Gen-Z work from their bedrooms, and nearly a quarter work from their living rooms. One in three people who work or go to school from home reported feeling overworked, and 62% said they have had an argument with people they live with while working from home. Berk said the arguments are “mainly over budget and money.”
“Because we're all working from home, we're all on a budget right now,” Berk continued. “So I've come up with some really cute and easy ways to make your work from home spaces or your school from home spaces easier and doing it without breaking the bank.”
These costs can add up, and Berk collaborated with PayPal to promote its "Pay in 4" solution where consumers can get interest-free installments at millions of retailers where PayPal is accepted.
As Berk got used to a new sense of normalcy, so did the rest of the world. He came up with his own “Berking From Home” strategies to help people focus while staying in one place.
- Noise-Cancelling Headphones
“So one of my main, main recommendations, and this was not just for work from home, but back in the day when I traveled constantly, was noise-cancelling headphones. Especially right now, when working from home, if you have roommates, if you have kids, dogs, or just daydream a lot, noise-cancelling headphones will really help you stay focused and tune the rest of the world out.”
Keeping Your Electronics Organized
“Another thing that always frustrated me when I was working from home at first is all the things I needed to have charged,” Berk said. “I would have them in random plugs, and cords would knock my coffee over, I’d trip on them. So I made sure I went out and got one of those big power strips. So that way all my cords are in one place. They're not coming from all different directions. You have less chaos around you, less chaos in your mind.”
A Good Work Chair
“[Make] sure that you've got a good chair. A lot of people are like, 'Oh, I should get an office-y chair If I'm working from home.' No, get something that looks good because you're going to have to look at that chair even when you're not working. So make sure you get a chair that's comfortable and it looks good, but supports your back as well.
Solution For Small Living Spaces
“I recommend getting like a nice big tray, like a big wood or plastic or metal tray that when that tray is out, sitting on the bed or sitting on the coffee table or the sofa, and your laptops on it, your coffee's on it, your light’s on it: it's work time,” Berk continued. “But when you put that tray away, work is done. Do not look at your phone for work, do not open up that laptop, do not answer emails. So [tray] out, work time, tray not out, not work time, because it's really important to not only visually separate that space, but also to make sure that, you know, some people that have home offices, you can shut the door. But for those of us who don't, you just put that tray away, and no more work.”
Get Up And Make Your Bed
“I do always recommend making your bed,” Berk said. “You need to start out with a task to make yourself feel accomplished… especially if your bed is in the space that you're working in as well. It has such a huge effect on your mental health and wellness to make that bed and make sure that you are mentally fit and ready to start working.”
Keeping Holiday Traditions Alive (Safely)
With the holidays approaching, many people are staying at home instead of traveling to see loved ones. As COVID-19 cases continue to surge to record-breaking numbers, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention issued an advisory ahead of Thanksgiving urging people against traveling or hosting large gatherings.
The CDC suggested taking similar precautions for the upcoming holidays as well and recommends hosting virtual events instead. And while it might be strange for most people to spend the holidays apart from loved ones, Berk suggested people “keep up those holiday traditions from when you were a kid” on their own.
“When we were little, we used to always bake cookies, and when friends and family would come over, we'd send them home with a plate of cookies,” Berk said. “Well, obviously we can't have all those people over this year, so I went out and I bought a big stand mixer, so that way I can make cookies in big batches and I'm going to ship all the cookies.”
Berk continued: “The holidays always make us feel warm even though, you know, the holidays are going to look a little different this year. It doesn't mean they still can't be merry.”
Berk said keeping a sense of normalcy is especially important this year.
“We as species like normalcy, we like pattern,” he continued. “And so making sure that you're doing some of the same things that you would normally do, even if they're a little different, is going to keep us happy and safe this year.”
While everyone continues to grapple with seemingly endless months of living through a pandemic, Berk encouraged people to maintain hope and persevere — something he’s been known for on “Queer Eye.”
“That's always kind of the attitude I've had to have is things will get better,” Berk said. “We'll get through this. It'll be fine… Make sure that you're taking care of yourselves, get those work from home things, get the things that you need for holidays.”