I’ve been working from home for over 20 years now, and I could never go back to an office environment.
It’s likely that many of you will be expected to work from home in the coming weeks, maybe months, in response to the coronavirus and that it will be a new experience for you.
You’ll find oodles of advice out there, including some from Kristina earlier this week. So much of it depends on your personality, your productivity style, your family and housing situations, and your employer’s expectations.
But here are my personal recommendations for communications directors . . .
Get everything in the cloud now. If you don’t already store your office documents in the cloud, now is the time to move docs there or at least make copies in the cloud. We personally use Dropbox and Google Drive, but you have lots of options. If your office is way behind on adopting the use of the cloud, do it yourself for the documents you use the most or will need in the next several weeks. Start on this project sooner than later!
Set up your free Zoom account, and get your audio and video settings right. It’s what most people seem to be using now for conferencing. Next, if you haven’t already, figure out how to use the webcam on the computer at home (or get one). Test it with whatever earbuds or USB headset you will use. It seems simple, but given how many online meetings I do, I can promise you that you aren’t alone if you have trouble with your audio and video settings at first. Do some test meetings and record them so you can see how you sound and look (lighting is key on how you look — see next tip!).
Work on the lighting. Good lighting makes a huge difference in your ability to be productive, to feel upbeat, and to be seen on video, no matter where you are in your home! Move a lamp or pull up the blinds. Take a look at what your webcam sees — is there too much light or not enough on your face? Are there things in the background that you don’t especially want to share with coworkers?
Be open and clear about expectations. Are they really working? Are they wondering if you are really working? Open, clear communication with your co-workers is really important when you aren’t in the same physical space. Talk about how your office culture translates (and not) to a home environment.
Enjoy your commute time! Now that you don’t have to fight traffic or public transit, what fun or restful thing can you do in that time?
Relax. At first, it can feel very strange, like you have to chain yourself to your desk or kitchen table. You don’t. It’s OK to do laundry or play with your dog or whatever while you are working at home. You are allowed to take breaks and to focus on work with the virtual “door closed” like you would in an office. Some people say it helps to get up and dressed right away, but that’s taking the fun out of it for me. I let video meetings dictate when I take a shower and get dressed most days.
What tips do you have for the newly working at home? Share in the comments!