The Simple Joy Of Telling People To Go Away

If nothing else, the pandemic has made everyone aware of the need for establishing work/home boundaries in a home office setting. If only one person is working form home, that’s not too challenging but when you have two or more people regularly traveling through each other’s space, it’s not so straightforward.

Case in point, I’ve always had a dedicated home office space but since March 2020, my wife has been working from home as well. She’s a violinist and it’s not difficult to know when she’s practicing. When she is, I simply avoid going anywhere into her space. Think of it as an audible Do Not Disturb signal.

The pandemic changed that when she had to spend her time not only on practicing but creating a new series of videos for her orchestra. That combined with both of us eyes deep in no less than a few zoom meetings per day meant it was becoming all too easy to become an inadvertent work nuisance.

About halfway through the pandemic I started researching a Do Not Disturb (DND) notification system. While there were plenty of existing solutions, most were expensive, overly complicated, or didn’t connect to existing smart home platforms.

And then I ran across Amazon’s Echo Glow.

It flew under my radar because it’s designed for kids but as it turns out, it’s also one of the best DND solutions I’ve come across. In its own way, it’s a fascinating study on how a company can leave money on the table by not reevaluating their product line in the wake of pandemic driven demand.

  • It is voice activated.
  • You get the full spectrum of white and RGB color LEDs light options.
  • There are no microphones or speakers.
  • It only costs $29.99.

The only real drawback is you need to have an Alexa smart speaker (Dot, Echo, etc.). If you’re already running an Alexa smart speaker, connecting the Glow to your existing network takes seconds. Seriously, they designed this to be figured out by a 3-year old so it’s just about as dummy-proof as a smart device gets.

Once connected, you can give it a unique name like “Do Not Disturb” and tell Alexa “Turn on Do Not Disturb.” That’s all there is to it.

You can manually change the light color, but the device uses whatever color was last used by default.

I ended up purchasing two, one that sits just outside my office door and one for inside the office that my wife uses so I don’t inadvertently crash a recording session or zoom meeting.

Don’t like orange? No problem. Use voice commands or the Alexa app to change color.

For the price-point, the Echo Glow injects a crazy amount of #WorkBliss into work from home-based environments.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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