Today’s Challenge Is All About Work-From-Home Life

You sure do learn a lot when life suddenly makes it impossible to go into the office and asks that you instead do the same work remotely. Sure, there are the obvious challenges like needing a device to do the work on and an internet connection that’s not going to melt down when family or roommates are trying to Zoom at the same time as you one-on-one with the boss. But there’s way more to it. The Refresh Work-From-Home Life challenge takes this on as the next phase of the Hackaday Prize gets under way this morning.

If the global pandemic caused you to find yourself working from home, I’m sure it’s been quite a ride. Maybe you learned what your spine feels like after hunching over a MacBook in bed for 40 hours. Others discovered that the commute had been silently serving as a power-down sequence for your “work brain” — without it you never stopped thinking about, or more likely worrying about, work. And without that change in venue, it’s far too easy to feel like you were now living at work. So let’s invent the things that can make us productive from home while maintaining physical health and preserving our sanity.

Ten entries in this challenge will be awarded with $500 and ushered into the final round where the grand prize of $25,000 and four other top prizes await. What kind of things are we looking for? The best ideas are the ones we haven’t had yet, but I can spitball a bit to get things rolling.

Mirror with a bracket turns a laptop webcam into an overhead project for Zoom classrooms

Furniture and other infrastructure can be a real sore-spot when not a good fit. We’d love to see your design that uses a single sheet of plywood (I know, those cost a bazillion dollars these days but just go with it) to build an adjustable workspace that fits your chair height and needs. Bonus points for one that folds away at quitting time to reassure you that work is done!

Office interruptions from co-works sometimes feel like a distraction. But without them you might not get your body moving for hours on end… not good for you! Design an assistant that watches for your poor sedentary habits and sasses you until you take some time to stretch your old bones. Or show off the gadgets that make living the digital nomad life easier like the awesome document camera hacks we saw from teachers when classrooms were closed last year.

Show off your proof of concept by starting a project page on and using the dropdown in the left sidebar to enter it into the 2021 Hackaday Prize. You can continue to update it until judging begins at the end of July.

We’re already living in the future. Working or learning remotely is a big part of that. Let’s bend our homes and our habits to find a better way to do it!

10 thoughts on “Today’s Challenge Is All About Work-From-Home Life

  1. The only work at home challenge I have to solve is how to convince the boss to make it permanent.

    I’m not a natural morning person. Hours are still the same here at home but cutting out the commute means I can stay in bed 1/2 hour later. Every little it helps a lot! (don’t ask how I feel about daylight savings time).

    Then another 1/2 hour saved not driving home. I always ended my day at the office charged up and ready to come home and work on this or that personal project. Then I lose some of that energy and ambition in the drive home. I get there and the wife is talking about dinner. No use starting a project when that’s about to happen so I wait. Dinner is cooked, eaten. Now it’s 7PM and I no longer feel like starting something. Another day goes by nothing accomplished. Then a week. Then a month. Oh shit, where did the last 15 years go?

    And what do I almost dislike as much as mornings? Office clothes. I’m not a PJs and bunny slippers sort of home worker. I’m most comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt until it gets too hot for the jeans and I have to switch to shorts. But man do I hate wearing khakis. I don’t think I could survive in a job that required a suit.

    With all apologies to all the people who have been hurt so badly by this situation working at home has been really great for me. Out of respect for the hurting I’ve waited for the end to say this but 2021 may very well end up being the best year of my adult life.

    I am very lucky. My employer treats us all like family. Benefits are good, pay is good, everyone is nice. I won’t leave for another job to stay at home. I don’t even want to speak up too much about liking working at home because I know the boss and many of my coworkers really miss seeing everyone. I wouldn’t want them to think I don’t want to see them too. But I am so dreading going back.

    1. Start the conversation now about working from home more often. You lay out some compelling arguments and it sounds like your company respects its people. My company is definitely going to allow us to work from home more and we’re figuring out how that’s going to work now. I’m hoping to start working remotely 100% in the winter so I can move someplace warm when it’s cold here in upstate NY.

    1. Overhead projectOR – put this over the top of your screen, and your laptop keyboard basically becomes the bed of an overhead projector.

      Good for showing off small objects you need to manipulate while discussing, but you might need to flip your webcam display if you don’t want to learn how write in reverse. And yes, a lot of tools provide some kind of annotation or whiteboard, but if it doesn’t or you don’t want to mess with it, it’s a good option.

  2. As was previously stated, the big challenge is how to stay working from home. We had a 1 day a week WFH policy that went fulltime thanks to the plague.
    That meant saving me 60 miles and 80 minutes of commute a day. Add in gas and tolls & it was an noticible instant raise. Now things are leaning towards more normal, the MBA bearing PHB’s are howling for Return to Office because they have the management skills of squirrels on meth, have no idea what their staff actually does and even less ability to actually do it.
    Yep, without the ability to hands-on micromanage, people with 6 figure salaries are utterly lost.

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