March 21,2020 With so many being sent home to work I’ve seen lots of advice on how to work from home. Most of it bad.
I’ve worked from a home office for a long time. If it can help, here’s what I’ve learned.
Get ready for work. Shower, get dressed, look and feel how you would if you were going into the office. It changes things emotionally. If you do video meetings, and you probably will, sweats and bad hair won’t cut it.
Keep normal hours. Don’t stop to watch the news, walk the dog, clean the kitchen, or do things you wouldn’t stop to do at the office. Work, news, work, dog, these are the things that make working from home tough. And, if you’re done at 3pm because you’ll be more productive with fewer interruptions, stop.
Have an office. The kitchen table is a bad choice especially if other people are in the house. Temporarily reconfigure a separate room. Buy an office chair your butt can deal with for several hours and get a desk that’s the proper height. Neither has to be new or expensive. This is your career, even if it’s only for a month.
Buy a good wireless telephone headset. You want to sound good, you want to be hands-free, and you want to be able to get up and fetch things. I recommend this headset if you don’t take a lot of business calls on your cell. This one is great if you do business at your desk and when you’re mobile.*
Learn to use net meeting/video conferencing platforms. Most of the time you’ll use Zoom, Gotomeeting, or Skype. Practice to familiarize yourself with the platform your company uses, if you aren’t already comfortable. Zoom and Skype have a free version, and you can do a free trial with Gotomeeting to practice with it. You don’t need a paid version of any of them to participate in meetings initiated by someone else. Practice.
Two more things about video conferencing. One, audio quality is important. Use either of the headsets I recommend above, or buy a cheaper one just for these meetings; don’t use the mic on your laptop or webcam. Two, pay attention to what’s in the picture if you use video. The simpler the better. No closets, doors, junkiness, or bright windows.
If your stint at home is connected to COVID-19 we all hope it is for as short a time as possible. But be professional and productive regardless the time frame. The world needs your best, boldest, most inspired work. Especially now.
PS My hopes on a possible positive outcome from the pandemic.
* The links are to a client of mine that sells headsets. I’m not recommending headsets because they’re my client. I’m recommending them because a wireless headset has been one of the most valuable tools I use; something I discovered long before they became a client. And, they are uniquely qualified to help small businesses.