The New Normal of Telecommuting
Whether self-quarantined or due to a shelter-in-place or company mandate, many of us within the corporate sector have found ourselves relocated from on-site environments to full-time telecommuting.
While the hope is that this will be short term and the threat of the Coronavirus will subside quickly, our current situation is definitely different from the occasional day or two working from home that some previously enjoyed. Yet with planning, we can make the best of our circumstance and continue to work, collaborate and contribute from this new workplace norm.
NEC is a globally recognized provider of award-winning communications and collaboration solutions and services that enable a remote workforce. We have gathered recommendations for work-from-home best practices from our customers and our own team members with personal experience. We hope that the following will help in adjusting and perhaps even provide a couple of suggestions not previously considered.
Choose Your Workspace Wisely
If possible, pick a quiet location away from any major home activity where family members tend to gather, ideally with a door to limit noise and lessen distractions and interruptions. Explain or even put up a sign when the door is closed to limit disruptions.
Follow A Normal Schedule
Before starting to answer email or sitting down at your work area, follow whatever routine you would normally do before leaving for the office – such as shower, dress, have coffee – then sit down and begin your workday.
Explain Your Situation
This is especially important when younger family members are home or if the kitchen or dining room table is the only feasible workspace so things aren’t moved and equipment isn’t played with.
Make Things Pleasurable
Even if temporary, make your workspace your own with family photos, flowers and favorite tchotchkes.
You will find them comforting to look at especially when thinking, regrouping or taking a screen break. Consider turning on office-appropriate music. It helps to mask the background “home noise” and lowers your stress level.
Don’t Forget Furry Companions
Place their bed and toys nearby so they have a place to go instead of being underfoot because they will want to be with you and this will make them more manageable. If you have any concern about potential noise from your pet while on phone calls, mute yourself and unmute when the time comes to speak. For dog owners: if walks are possible, this is something to consider to minimize workday interruptions.
Not everyone will have easy access to a suitable office chair. So pick the most appropriate one available to ensure all day comfort. Have a quality headset handy for making and being on calls as well as controlling ambient noise and keeping voice quality clear.
Share Daily Schedules
Be sure to communicate your agenda regularly, including planned meetings, intended breaks and general availability. This will minimize potential interruptions. It will also help younger family members by letting them know and look forward to when they can have your full attention.
Try to replicate your office space at home, placing everything frequently needed within easy reach. Jot down key priorities – whiteboarding is great for this – and rollover any unfinished items to the next day to ensure nothing gets missed or overlooked.
Take Regular Breaks
Eat lunch somewhere other than your work area. During the workday, if you find you are sitting too long at your work area, set a timer as a reminder to get up and move. If there are no constraints to being outdoors, schedule time for a short walk. It will do wonders to reset the day by re-energizing you, and fresh air and sunlight are known to improve immunity.
Know Your Technology
Take the time to learn the tools available to you, taking tutorials when necessary to get up-to-speed or re-familiarize yourself with functions and capabilities so you are prepared. Take a bit of time to practice using tools with colleagues too.
Think When Conferencing
A webcam provides a window into your home. Check what is behind you before every call, removing anything deemed too personal or visually distracting. Lessen background noise by putting yourself on mute when not speaking. Also, act as if you are in the office. So no drinking, eating or multitasking. Remember you are totally visible.
Don’t Be Tempted
Dress for the office – at least from the waist up – so you are always ready for those unexpected and ‘just can’t wait’ conference calls.
And lastly … secure company assets
Be sure company equipment and any printed documents remain safe and secured at all times. Your company trusts you to act responsibly. Should an incident occur, follow your organization’s protocol immediately.
NEC is committed to the welfare of our customers, our employees and their families and our business partners. If we can assist you in anyway during this unprecedented time or if your organization would like more information on telecommuting solutions or services, let NEC be your resource and contact us.