Keep The Family At Bay While Working From Home With This WiFi Do Not Disturb Dongle

Those who have been suddenly introduced to the wonderful world of working from home over the last couple of weeks may have experienced a bit of culture shock. Even with today’s open floorplan workspaces and less-formal expectations, work isn’t home. That’s especially true with young children in the house, who’ll probably respond to seeing mommy or daddy working from home much differently than [Bob] from accounting would at the office.

To smooth out the rough spots of transitioning to a full-time work-from-home setup, [Brian Lough] threw together this web-enabled “do not disturb” beacon for his office door. The original idea was to simply provide a red light and a green light to let the rest of the family know when [Brian] would be in a meeting, but in an example of scope creep that turned out to be useful, [Mrs. Lough] rewrote the spec to include a button on the family-facing side so that she could alert him that his presence is requested.

[Brian] went through a couple of prototype using both an ESP32 and an ESP8266. We were rooting for the ESP32, which [Brian] was leveraging for its built-in capacitive touch input. That would have eliminated a physical button, but alas, the ESP8266 made it into the final build, along with lots and lots of Blu-Tack. The video below details the build and the code, and features an adorable Irish lesson as a bonus.

Yes, a simple text message would probably have satisfied the specs, but where’s the sport in that? Then again, as [Brian] points out, this build seemed oddly familiar for a good reason.

12 thoughts on “Keep The Family At Bay While Working From Home With This WiFi Do Not Disturb Dongle

    1. You got that right! I received some new parts/kits to play with and it would ‘tough’ not to take a number of ‘short’ breaks… If I had to work at home. For now we have been separated into ‘pods’ at work for essential employees. Did have to move to different work location however. Half there, half here.

    1. Yes, but the text reflect my bias. I do my Hackaday work in an office I built in my backyard, “The Hack Shack.” It’s about 60′ from the house, so my contact with the family is mainly via text. Or, when the weather is nice and the windows are open, a few shouts.

      But I think what Brian was going for here was a way to forestall family interruptions that might seem “unprofessional” to his colleagues. I’ve worked from home at least part time since 2003 when my kids were very young, so I’ve had my share of family interruptions. Once had to bail out of a teleconference when I spied my son fall out of a tree through the window – “Gotta go, man down!” I shouted as I hung up. Keeping that stuff to a minimum is important to some people, especially when they’re new to working from home and worried about their work image.

    2. A knock on the door in the middle of a meeting where I’m supposed to be paying full attention? At best, I miss the point of the conversation. At worst, I miss a decision that’ll be made which impacts my team because I didn’t respond (“silence implies approval”).

  1. Cut the red wire! No! The white wire!

    I hate open plan offices, but sadly find working from home difficult too. I’m easily distracted…

    My ideal case here is that almost everyone _else_ gets told to work from home :-)

  2. I am a long-time consultant. This can be a problem.

    Another consultant has a great solution: when working, he wears a specific hat/cap. That is the signal to the family to not interrupt him for mundane things.

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