If there’s any team who can nail working from home it would be our tech department. Having implemented a successful remote working strategy at THE ICONIC for a few years now – most on an occasional basis, some at least once a week (pre-social isolation), and a couple even working remotely from rural areas (including from a touring combi-van!) – it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about staying connected online and keeping a business afloat from afar.
Ben Berger, Director of Internal Products, was kind enough to share his top tips for working from home.
Working from Home (WFH) Tips & Tricks
Set up your WFH space to be as productive as possible.
- Keep it free from distractions
- Minimise clutter
- Invest in a comfortable chair and desk (I’m not giving tax advice but you might want to check if this can be claimed as a tax deduction as a home office set-up, just saying)
- Set yourself up ergonomically and remain injury free
- Have a separate web camera and keyboard
- Multi screen setups are best or at least have one good non-laptop screen to work from
- Ensure good light / natural light
Pro-tip: If you wouldn’t want to send your teammates a picture of your WFH space then you probably need to work on improving it a bit.
Open the Hangouts Chat interface if you use GSuite at work or Slack or the Microsoft or other equivalent.
Make sure you know how to contact your helpdesk and connect to your VPN if you have one.
Install the company directory app on your phone if you have one.
Good ones allow you to phone everyone on their mobile.
Let people know how to reach you.
Change your Hangouts or Slack or equivalent status to ‘WFH’ and add your contact details in the status text e.g. ‘WFH 0452 XXX XXX, Slack or Zoom me!’.
Take regular breaks during the day to move your body, clear your mind and rest your eyes (no screens!).
- A change of scenery… go outside or even to another room for 10 minutes
- Make a cuppa
- Move! Take a walk, learn to stretch and be stretchy, do some yoga poses, do a plank for 2 minutes and work on your core (the world record is over 8 hours set by a 62 year old so no excuses, ha!)
Follow remote meeting etiquette.
- Always have your camera on, if possible, and dress accordingly
- Ensure people can see you clearly – is the lighting okay? Do you need to move closer to the camera? Are you looking at the camera?
- Ensure your microphone is working properly – are you cutting in and out? Do you sound like a zombie robot? If so, fix that
- Using your phone for voice and Zoom (or equivalent) for video is a great workaround if you’re having trouble with your computer audio
- Laptop microphones are fickle things – be mindful that they will struggle to pick up quiet voices. Speak clearly and at an appropriate volume
- Audio is more important than video. If you are using a laptop in a shared space for your main screen and audio, position the laptop in the middle of the action
- When using laptop microphones, try to elevate the laptop from hard surfaces like desks and meeting room tables by putting a book, block of paper or other soft, noise damming material underneath. These surfaces tend to carry and reflect ambient noise directly into the laptop chassis and microphone, which can make you less audible
- Don’t multitask during the meeting i.e. check emails, scroll through your phone etc.
- Use screen sharing functionality so it is easier for people to follow the conversation. Try not to demonstrate using white boards or by holding pieces of paper up to the camera
- If you are having trouble finding pauses in conversations so that you can speak, send a chat or raise your virtual hand in the app (or just wave madly if you’re on video)
- Be a good listener. This is the perfect opportunity to practice your active listening skills!
- Add a fun icebreaker to get everyone participating at the start of the meeting. The Check-in Technique is a good one to encourage people to share how they are feeling at this point in the day and enable everyone to get a feel for what’s happening in everyone’s worlds.
And, for teams:
a) Hold daily Standups via Zoom or electronically
- Ask for a quick progress report i.e. what did you accomplish yesterday? What are you planning to do today? Is anything blocking your work?
- Make it interesting by adding a random question of the day – something lighthearted and quick to answer e.g. what is your ‘go to’ chocolate? What don’t you mind getting up early for etc.
b) If you have Slack or chat equivalent:
- Set up a team Slack Channel and other Slack channels for particular topics to allow you to communicate asynchronously.
- Use your group channels as much as possible and avoid direct messaging people, even if you need to communicate with a subset of people in your group. Think of it as allowing people to overhear an open office conversation
c) If you have Zoom or video equivalent:
- Set up an always-on Zoom channel, especially if you need to collaborate frequently with other people.
Pro tip: if you have Zoom and Slack, you can type ‘/zoom’ into Slack to quickly send someone a Zoom link.
Adapt your communication style for remote working.
- Working asynchronously is unique – be clear in your messages, understand that the person on the other end might not respond immediately, don’t get blocked… have something to carry on with
- Writing is hard. If it was easy we’d all be authors. So be mindful that text-based communications can often be on the cold side. Bring humanity to your communications, use gifs, emoticons… who doesn’t love them? Err on the side of over communicating.
- There is a special place in hell for those that just leave a single “Hey!” message, then nothing else. In fact, never start with ‘Hey’ on its own even if the second message comes 20 seconds later. Remember you’re on work time and people have things to do.
- Working with people is fun. This is as true for those in the office, as for those in remote locations. Check in for no particular reason, reach out, socialise (virtually), have fun, build the team.
Actual meals. Not just snacks and grazing.
*Adapted from Ben’s original article on LinkedIn, 10 Tips To Survive (Working From Home While Avoiding) COVID-19. For more stories, follow us on LinkedIn.
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