Coronavirus and remote work – tips and tricks.
Here at GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd., we are experts at remote work. The idea of “working from home,” is a lark for many professionals. There are still camps of old-school, button-down business people who believe that it’s impossible to be productive and professional from your own home. That’s not only wrong it’s an ignorant perception.
We recently reviewed an article where the author proposed it is the exact opposite of productive to work remotely. While the author is always entitled to his opinion, and I have no intention of giving his ridiculous writings publicity by citing the work here, we have other thoughts.
GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd., was founded in the spare bedroom of a small apartment in London, Ohio. From the very beginning, I was remote – about pretty much everything. Not until I joined my first professional networking group did I really need to see people face-to-face unless there was an on-site issue that needed to be addressed. Plus, I have never wanted to expand the business beyond a few people, and today all of us in the business are remote workers. As a result, since those early days in 1998, I have the skill of “working from home” down to a science.
Plus, it wasn’t my first day. I’d previously worked for a software development firm that assigned programming projects to me remotely as well. I worked, once again, from a spare bedroom in my apartment. My tools consisted primarily of a computer, an internet connection, email, and a phone. But for all of that, my most important tool was self-discipline.
Some people require that office structure of people and routine, not to mention a supervisor to hold you accountable. Chances are, if you’re an employee and not self-employed, you still have the accountability component and the company has expectations of your productivity. If you’re self-employed, it may be a little harder because your schedule and accountability are probably dictated by the work itself, rather than an 8-5 timeclock.
Employers, listen up. Remote work may not be right for every job or work style. What used to be called, “telecommuting,” is not only cost-effective, it can actually help increase productivity and revenue. It cuts the expense of another body in the office and reduces spread of illness – which is what’s going on right now.
If you’re new to remote work, I have a few tips for you from someone who really knows how to be productive outside the office.
- Establish a dedicated workspace.
- Depending on the space you have available, do the best you can to set up a dedicated workspace, preferably away from family space.
- Be prepared for isolation and take breaks
- Isolation is fine for some people but others find the “social” aspects of a work environment gratifying. If you have a problem working in isolation, remote work might not be for you.
- One way to combat the isolation and prevent burnout is to take regular breaks. Develop a routine much like you would at the office. But be careful – using a break to check on the kids or throw a quick load into the dishwasher can suck you into a deep hole. Don’t fall for that. Take a break but don’t do “home chores” or other non-work tasks. Instead, take a walk or get a cup of coffee in your break room (the kitchen).
- Taking a normal lunch break is also beneficial and gives you a sense of routine. Lunch at home can be a huge advantage to your health and your checkbook. You’ll save money on everything. Once in a while, however, go to lunch with a friend or business associate, but keep to a specific time-frame, just as you might at the office.
- Avoid social media as a way to combat isolation. It will suck you in as well.
- Establish work-only office equipment
- Laptops, tablets, and phones that are used for your job should only be used for that purpose. Your work computer is not a spare homework station or game terminal. Nothing but work should be done on those devices.
- Off-site backup for files is also an important part of work-only equipment guidelines. Cloud services are inexpensive and sometimes free to a certain amount of storage. Make use of that and also buy yourself an external hard drive where you can store important material.
- Set normal work hours.
- One of the biggest mistakes made by new remote workers is a lack of time management. You have to set normal business hours and stick to them, no matter what happens.
- Set Boundaries.
- It’s easy to get distracted at home. If you are working at home, do exactly that. It’s not a time to catch up on laundry or vacuuming the kids’ room. Your job is your job and that’s all you should be doing during the work hours you’ve set.
- Family needs to understand also that you are working. Don’t answer the phone or the door – treat it like you’re not home.
- Get Dressed!
- Prepare for work as usual. While you can certainly dress more comfortably, avoid the temptation to skip the shower and shave or working in your PJs. You need to “feel” like it’s a normal workday.
- Home technology often doesn’t match that at work. If you’re just sending an email or using the Internet for a resource, most broadband providers are adequate. But if you’re going to be using video chat, the kids are all home watching Netflix, and there are multiple devices connected to one router, you need to make sure you have enough bandwidth. Rule of thumb is at least 25 Mbps for 4K streaming video on your computer or Ultra HD enabled devices. Some streaming services suggest faster speeds of up to 40 Mbps. Many cable broadband providers, like Spectrum, boast 100 Mbps, but that will be dramatically reduced once everyone in your neighborhood is hitting the system at the same time. Here is a broadband test that will allow you to test your internet speed.
- Zoom and Skype and test microphones and cameras in preparation for virtual meetings.
Working from home can be productive or not – there’s not much in between. You have to be dedicated and disciplined. I have always believed that the professional world is moving to more remote working situations and the current virus crisis may just push us that way less gradually. Be ready for it. You can do this!
We’re happy to offer coaching on remote work. Just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 937-902-4857.