How to handle the challenges of a makeshift home office

For many professionals, a work-from-home day was a rare, but welcome, occurrence. Sure, you traded your Aero chair and giant monitors for a kitchen table and a tiny laptop screen. But not having to commute and the comforts of home often outweighed those hassles. After all, who’d judge you for taking a catnap after a marathon conference call?

That all changed when the COVID-19 pandemic led many companies to shutter offices, sending waves of employees home to work remotely. At the time, there were questions about how employees would respond to that massive and sudden shift. Would productivity suffer? Would they feel disconnected from their coworkers?

According to Capital One’s 2020 Work Environment Survey, concerns about the transition to remote work were largely unfounded. The report found that 78% of employees agree that working from home can be as effective as working in the office, and 64% agree that remote

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U.S. pending home sales unexpectedly fall in October

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Contracts to buy U.S. previously owned homes fell for a second straight month in October as an acute shortage of properties pushed up prices, though the housing market remains supported by record low mortgage rates.



a sign on the side of a building: FILE PHOTO: Real estate signs advertise new homes for sale in multiple new developments in York County, South Carolina


© Reuters/LUCAS JACKSON
FILE PHOTO: Real estate signs advertise new homes for sale in multiple new developments in York County, South Carolina

The National Association of Realtors said on Monday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, decreased 1.1% to 128.9. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast pending home contracts, which become sales after a month or two, would rebound 1.0% in October.

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Compared to a year ago, pending homes sales jumped 20.2% in October. The monthly decline in contracts suggests a moderation in sales of existing home sales after they accelerated in October to their highest level since November 2005.

The housing market is being

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Doubts raised over rapid Covid tests in plan for English care home visits

A flagship government scheme to use rapid testing to allow care home visitors to hug loved ones before Christmas has been dealt a serious blow after a council instructed providers not to use the tests, citing fears that they lack accuracy.



Photograph: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, had promised that by Christmas rapid testing that produces results in less than an hour would be rolled out to care homes across England to end “heartbreaking” restrictions on visits.

But Sheffield city council has told operators that “when used in practice, the performance … appears to show an unacceptably high risk of not correctly detecting infected individuals”.

In an instruction that care homes predicted would upset families whose hopes of a visit had been raised by the announcement of testing, the council told them “not to use lateral flow test kits … until we

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Keep Your Home Safe While You Are Away

Tens of thousands of older adults head to warmer climates for the winter. As hips and knees begin to wear out, arthritic joints make shoveling snow an agony, and icy sidewalks become a fall magnet, heading south, for many, is as much a necessity as a luxury, and Covid-19 has not significantly impeded that migration. For most snowbirds (the nickname for those human migrants), it’s just as easy to shelter-in-place in a rented condo in Florida as it is at home in Minnesota or Maine. For boomers joining the migratory pack this year or next, it’s important not to ignore a few key chores that will make that permanent home safe and secure while it is unoccupied for those many cold months.    

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According to Travelers Indemnity Group data, 20% of homeowner insurance claims result from water damage resulting

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The Verge home tech holiday gift guide

Sugru Mouldable Glue

Sugru is Play-Doh for grownups. You mold it into whatever you want and then let it harden into things like a headphone holder, a curtain hook, or a cable organizer. I’ve also used it to repair a faucet handle. It’s the fixit solution for those of us who are normally not handy. Price: ~$10

Mueller Austria Ultra-Stick 500 hand blender

Being home more than usual has enabled a lot of people to cook more than they would usually, and having the right tools makes things even easier. This immersion hand blender has multiple uses — use it to whisk some eggs, or puree some veggies to make some salsa for Taco Tuesdays. Price: ~$35

Instant Pot

The Instant Pot could become one of the most-used items in your kitchen. It makes great soups and stews, can serve as a pressure cooker for tasty

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U.S. Pending Home Sales Unexpectedly Fall for a Second Month

(Bloomberg) — A gauge of contract signings to purchase previously owned U.S. homes unexpectedly declined for a second month in October as higher prices and a limited number of listings impeded momentum in the housing market.

The National Association of Realtors’ index of pending home sales decreased 1.1% to 128.9 from the prior month after a revised 2% decline in September, according to data released Monday. The October drop compared with a median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists for a 1% gain.



graphical user interface, chart: U.S. pending home sales fall for second month as high prices limit demand


© Bloomberg
U.S. pending home sales fall for second month as high prices limit demand

The decline underscores the challenges of further upward momentum in the housing market as the lack of available properties drives up asking prices and impedes demand. At the same time, contract signings are up almost 20% from a year ago on an unadjusted basis, highlighting the strides residential real estate has

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October pending home sales fall unexpectedly, as high prices take their toll on buyers

  • Pending home sales fell 1.1% month-to-month in October but were 20.2% higher compared with October 2019.
  • The growing imbalance has prompted bidding wars and caused the median price of an existing home to jump to the highest level ever in October, according to the National Association of Realtors.



a group of people standing in front of a building: People wait to visit a house for sale in Floral Park, Nassau County, New York.


© Provided by CNBC
People wait to visit a house for sale in Floral Park, Nassau County, New York.

Strong, pandemic-induced demand for housing is still there, but buyers may now be hitting an affordability wall.

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Pending home sales fell 1.1% month-to-month in October but were 20.2% higher compared with October 2019. This reading is a measure of signed contracts on existing homes, so it is a future indicator of closed sales.

It is also, therefore, a more recent read on buyer activity because it represents people out shopping during the month and making purchase decisions. Analysts expected a small

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California Sets Record for Median Home Price As Housing Market Rebounds

Fueled by low interest rates and a historic housing shortage, California’s median home price in September reached $712,430, closing out four straight months of record highs.

The state’s housing market briefly cooled in the early months in the coronavirus pandemic, but by June, they were fully on the rebound, with the median sales price reaching $626,200, the highest ever at the time, according to a report from the California Department of Finance. For the next three months, as mortgage rates stayed below 3 percent and many buyers looked to upgrade to larger homes, that number would continue to climb. In August, it exceeded $700,000 for the first time in history.

“A lot of people think the pandemic equals the market is suffering, but that’s just not the case,” said Ryan Lundquist, an appraiser based in Sacramento. “It’s the perfect storm of low rates, a housing shortage that we already had

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Anti-Lockdown Protesters Chant ‘Open L.A.’ Outside Health Chief’s Home Before New Covid Restrictions Begin

Crowds gathered outside the home of the Los Angeles County’s public health director on Sunday to protest against the latest round of Covid-19 restrictions taking effect this week.



a person holding a microphone: Los Angeles County Public Health director Barbara Ferrer speaks at a press conference on the novel COVID-19 (coronavirus), March 6, 2020. Protesters gathered outside her house on Sunday angry with the latest round of restrictions


© ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images
Los Angeles County Public Health director Barbara Ferrer speaks at a press conference on the novel COVID-19 (coronavirus), March 6, 2020. Protesters gathered outside her house on Sunday angry with the latest round of restrictions

Dr. Barbara Ferrer’s Echo Park home was surrounded by dozens of demonstrators, carrying placards, waving flags and chanting: “Open L.A.” and “No science. No data. No shutdown”.

Footage from the scene shows few people in the crowd were wearing face masks as they paced up and down the street.

LAPD officers could be seen over looking the scene with a police vehicle parked in what appears to be Ferrer’s driveway.

It comes after L.A. County officials outlined a new “Safer at

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Business School Briefing: not-working-from-home jobs and executive courses

Welcome to Business School Briefing. We offer you insights from Andrew Hill and Jonathan Moules, and the pick of top stories being read in business schools. Edited by Wai Kwen Chan and Andrew Jack.

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The Financial Times seeks your feedback on how to best measure research output from business schools to better capture its value. Please take part in our survey to help us update our analysis of business schools’ research in the rankings, with a focus on assessing the impact on society.

Andrew Hill’s management challenge

For all the words spent on the pros and cons of working from home (WFH) by homeworking pundits like me, the majority of workers are still, to a greater or lesser extent, NWFH: not working from home. As I’ve written this week, once vaccines bring the pandemic under control, employers and employees should have greater choice to rethink the design of jobs

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