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Many people are in the same boat as you right now, especially if you work for a small to medium-sized business. After we get over the initial shock of our ‘new normal’ of having to work from home, the planning part of our brain sets in and we begin to start thinking.
“How do I get started by working from home?”
Getting started working from home or being forced by an invisible bug called COVID-19, social distancing, and the “new normal” of our work from home initiative, can create anxiety for many of us.
I was initiated into this fraternity over 15 years ago when we didn’t have the tools that we have today, like video recording, video email, and video conferencing. It’s just become a lot easier.
The first PC software gaming startup I was part of we used our gamer’s headsets and online gaming tools to make calls with each other or host meetings. It was archaic, but it worked.
Let me see if I can help you think through this process of adapting to this new environment. Believe me, this is not just a temporary thing, more of us will be working from our home offices in the future, not because we are going to have more pandemics. I really hope not.
Once businesses learn that they can rely on a WFH workforce and see the financial savings as well as the many benefits of remote staff there is going to be a new movement.
This isn’t going to be easy on most of us. This is not the same as you doing emails from your couch on a weekend with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. You are going to be doing this full time..
Working From Home: How To Adapt
Your New Environment
If you don’t have any experience working for tech startups like I have, or run your own business from your home, or are a field sales rep, you’re going to need to be a quick study. Let’s discuss your new environment.
We have been going to work on a daily basis for years. We’ve become used to it. Our subconscious even has a hand in this as we commute to our daily job we begin thinking about all of the tasks, meetings, follow-ups, and planning we are going to do each day as we approach our office.
Fast forward to today, and that sacred place where we call home where we can relax or the temple we used to decompress is now going to have to act as two places in one. By the way, that commute you had to prepare for your day, has just been reduced from miles to steps.
From one part of your domicile to the other—. bBedroom to the home office. Oh, and don’t forget, if you have family and pets, you now have a new group of work associates that aren’t going to be working from the same company mission or purpose statements.
I hope it doesn’t get as bad as this article from Fast Company: Farts, cats, naked bodies: People are failing hilariously at working from home, but sometimes the best way is to learn from others’ mistakes. Or, you may just find it amusing. Let’s just all be prepared for everyone’s sake.
Your New Experience
The single best thing you can do is to make your new workspace similar to your work’s workspace. If you’re used to working at a desk then you will need a desk. If you’re work in your own office, then I suggest you figure out how to turn your new space into an office.
If you do, you may want to make sure that you have a door to shut to keep those new work peers (family and pets) away during those staff or customer video and audio calls you will be participating in.
Go easy on them, they aren’t the same as your work peers, they see you not as a worker but a contributing part of the home team, so plan for casual interruptions and a somewhat disruptive environment that you all are going to have to adapt to.
This ‘new normal’ of working from home’ may be a good time for a family meeting of house rules or plans during the home office work hours.
You’re going to need a desk. Not a cheap desk, but a work desk. Something you can be comfortable to be working from throughout your day. Many of us don’t have the resources to buy work furniture, but just consider that you are going to want to be at 6-8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
If you have dual monitors, ask your business if you can take one or more of them home with you temporarily, because if you think you can work at your same capacity on the laptop screen your company provided you, you’re in for a lot of squinting, neck, and headaches.
Don’t forget about a good chair that supports your back. This is not the time to pull out one of your dining room or kitchen chairs and think it’s going to act as a great office chair.
I work at a stand-up desk each day, so I happen to have a bar at the same height in my kitchen so I adapt to working in my home office part of the day and then stand up for the rest of the day working from my bar.
One of the last things you should consider in your office is a phone and/or a headset for communications. With the advancement of Softphones, most of us will be working from our laptop, PC, or smartphone to make video or audio calls.
A smartphone is a great tool, but having a headset or ear pods can make the experience not only better for you, but better for your prospects and customers. And take it from someone that has worked from a busy home environment, the money spent in a good set of noise- canceling earbuds or set is gold.
Image is Everything
Once you have a quiet and comfortable place to be and work from, it's time you consider your customers. Did you know that in the very new future you’re going to invite them into your home?.
This is not much different from many of the home sold products like jewelry, health, home, and kitchenware products today. Get ready, you’re inviting your colleagues, customers, and your prospects into your home. How?
You’re going to be opening this door to through the camera lens of your laptop, pc or other device and be prepared that you are going to letting them into your home-world. I recommend that you take a look at the environment behind you, the wall, bookshelf, etc. and ask yourself is this is what you want them to be looking at?
Do you have clothes on the floor, stacks of papers where books should be, are there any dying plants in view. Maybe you have nothing on that back wall. Is this still what you want to show someone you are doing business with? All of this is going to be visible and scrutinized even by the friendliest clients. So just be aware of your surroundings.
What Tools Do I Need?
Finally, you’re going to be working with a whole host of tools either that your already comfortable with or that are new to you. I know I discussed earlier some of the hardware you’ll be needing, but here’s a list of some of the tools you will be needing in your work from home workplace:
- Office applications: Everyone should be familiar with the Microsoft® Office365® or Google®’s G-Suite. These tools are now all online so that you can do create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, email, and work from your office calendar. In case you are using older versions of the desktop Microsoft Office applications like Word®, Excel®, or PowerPoint®. Microsoft allows you to install a copy (license) on your office PC, and one at home.
- Business Applications: These are different for every business. These are custom applications that you use in your business that keeps it running. They may be in the form of dashboards, ERP (enterprise resource planning), finance or logistics. The important thing is that you have access to all of your business applications while working from home.
- Collaboration Tools: These are great tools to keep everyone connected. Microsoft Office has TEAMs, there’s Slack®, etc. The purpose of these tools allows you to message, call, conference, share files, internally or externally so you can all work together and stay connected all day long.
- Video Conferencing: There are many products on the market like Zoom®, GoToMeeting®, Microsoft Teams, etc. Video is probably one of the most important tools in working remotely. Not being able to see each other during communicating with one another you lose facial expressions, body language, etc. which is about 55% of comprehension and understanding of communication.
- Online Storage: You’re going to need a place to store, share and access all of your work files from home. There are many great tools available such as Dropbox, GoogleDrive, and Microsoft OneDrive. If the time comes and your company has locked you out, you are going to have to make sure your files are accessible online.
- Security: Having good virus protection is one thing, but having control of the security of your files and communications is another. So we recommend that you look into installing a VPN on your laptop or home office computer. Ask your IT team. If they aren’t using one they should be or you should demand one. Your online security is more important with a WFH workforce more than ever.
With a Little Planning and a Lot of Patience, We Can All Work From Home
For some of us this is going to be easy, but for many of us, the WFH initiative that we are all experiencing in some fashion it’s going to cause anxiety and a host of new problems for us to solve. The important thing is to plan, make your environment comfortable.
Be patient with our new surroundings and the others in our home and present the best image you can. That’s all any company could ask for as you continue to adapt to these new changes to protect our safety and others. Be well, be safe and enjoy that new office you call home.
At AIS, we are not just an office technology company. We are a group of individuals dedicated to informing and educating you on the latest industry trends or best practices. We are here for you in good times and bad, so that your business can continue on its path of growth and success. To learn more about the best way for you to begin working from home reach out to us here. We’re here to give you peace of mind to help you win more business.