The last few weeks have inserted some new terminology into our work and everyday lives. How many times have you heard flatten the curve, self-isolating or social distance? There’s one term that has been in the Evergreen vocabulary from the start: work from home, or WFH. As a virtual company with all employees working remotely for more than two decades, we’d like to share some of our best practices for being productive for our clients and maintaining solid work relationships from a home office.
Set up your space
It’s important to have your own dedicated space, ideally with a door, a desk or table, and a good chair. Pay attention to ergonomics (chair height, arm height, distance from monitor). Your most important tool, besides your computer and phone, is your internet service provider (ISP). Things can get a little tricky with more users at home, so here are a few suggestions to help address that:
- Limit or ban services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime when you need to do video conferencing, especially if they’re being used on multiple devices at once.
- Check with your ISP and see if there’s a temporary upgraded speed package available that you can downgrade once you return to the office.
Tech tip: Your ISP’s upload speed is key for video quality, in virtual meetings for example. It also helps with saving or copying larger files to a corporate network or cloud-based file service. It is different than the download speed, which helps with seeing and hearing others.
Follow a schedule
It’s easy to get sucked into the distractions of home life. Having a schedule for work time, not just meetings, is essential to staying productive. It doesn’t have to be 9 to 5, but it needs to create adequate time to serve clients, support colleagues and complete tasks. Be conscious about balance. When your work time is done, close the door—literally or otherwise—and focus on the rest of your life.
Video conferencing is convenient, inexpensive and helps maintain a visual connection with colleagues. We have had success with Zoom, and subscribe to it because we use it so often. Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting and others also offer free, but limited, alternatives. At Evergreen, our default mode is video to encourage clearer communication, more natural dialogue and a sense of camaraderie. Be sure to let everyone invited to the meeting know whether it will be video or not, so they are prepared (and not caught in their pajamas). Find more information on meeting best practices from Zoom here.
If you are productive in a noisy, busy office, then you might work best in the midst of everything going on at home, or with the TV or music on. If you need quiet to accomplish anything, you’ll need to find a room of your own. It’s often a good idea to close doors and blinds to stay focused, and keep things professional on calls with clients.
Take breaks and have some fun
Just like at the office, taking a break is good for your brain and emotions. You can peel away from all technology and join your house mates for coffee, lunch or some exercise. Or invite family or friends to join you by phone or video chat. It is especially important during this time of required isolation to maintain contact with your personal and professional network.
Whether working from home is a completely new experience for you, or different in this current situation, the most important goal remains to meet client needs. With meeting in person not really an option for now, you can stay connected in other ways to keep projects moving forward. At Evergreen, we are adapting our approaches, making sure we remain fully available and efficient during this extraordinary time, with the intention that we will carry new and better practices forward as things progress to a new normal.
What’s working for you while you are WFH? We’d enjoy hearing about your experiences in the comments.