The New Abnormal: 13 Off-the Wall Tips for Working at Home
Office workers’ dream of finding a mute button for their boss is a reality now that they are working from home. Hawaii Business Magazine intern Chase Dalzell offers 13 other ways to enhance your work-from-home environment.
1. Use the mute button
Just because you aren’t speaking now during the sales meeting, remember that others around you are loudly expressing their opinions. Like your A/C, hyperactive toddler, quarantined dog or the garbage truck outside.
2. Mute button, part II
Remember to turn off the mute button when you start speaking. On second thought, check with your colleagues first; they may prefer that you remain muted. And always wear appropriate attire for virtual calls, from top to bottom. You don’t want to stand up without thinking and show everyone your Winnie the Pooh underwear.
3. Be the digital expert
Take the time to get acquainted with the teleconferencing platform your workplace uses. Then you can explain why the sound keeps going out during a crucial negotiation. Even if you can’t fix it, you’ll sound smart. Kind of.
4. Invest in blue-light glasses
They will help protect your eyes from damage caused by hours of staring at spreadsheets, reports and articles about how to work productively from home.
5. Relish extra time with loved ones
Laurie Foster, senior consultant at Business Consulting Resources, says she was delighted to have more time at home with her dog, Champ, before he passed away. “I never would’ve gotten to spend this time with him otherwise,” she says. So if you also happen to have dogs or cats, take advantage of the opportunity to watch them do nothing all day.
6. Meet every day at a set time
A short meeting supplements the disjointed communication of endless emails and ensures people know when not to schedule their naps and Netflixing.
7. Stop that
Resist the temptation to venture to your fridge during a video call. It’s distracting and I get jealous of your snacks.
8. Maintain office traditions
If your office held “Fun Fridays” before the pandemic, maintain that tradition to boost morale. Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have to look at co-workers’ pictures of their babies and the dogs and cats they think are their babies, their trips to Hilo and their unexplained rashes. And potlucks remain a great idea: Even if you can only look at other people’s lunches, you can take comfort in not having to smell Steve’s marinated salmon.
9. Share your screen
Modern teleconferencing lets you share your flow charts, spreadsheets and reports during a call. But first close all those tabs with baking and cat videos.
Resist changing your Zoom background to a hilarious photo of your co-worker mid-sneeze unless it’s Fun Friday. Of course, if it’s really funny, don’t wait until Friday. If you don’t use a virtual background, clean up what can be seen behind you. You don’t want your co-workers to see how you actually live.
11. Find a good facilitator
Someone who can run productive meetings is worth their weight in gold. The best candidate is someone experienced at teaching a room full of kindergartners without bursting into tears. They’ll manage your discussion by asking questions like, “What did you really mean to say?” and “Can you be more specific than ‘That kine stuff?’”
12. Not now
If your neighbor’s erratic lawn-mowing and leaf-blowing schedule is constantly disrupting your meetings, wait to yell at him. It’s unprofessional to resume your feud during a Zoom call and shows a lack of self-control. Wait until just before your performance evaluation so you can show your boss that you’re a go-getter.
13. Avoid news overload
Monitoring 10 different news outlets’ coverage of a live congressional hearing or pandemic outbreak is not only distracting but will leave you anxious and unhappy. That’s what work is for.