There is nothing more frustrating than trying to join an important meeting, or attempting to finish a big assignment only to have your technology fail you. Some technology issues are out of our control but there are some steps you can take to proactively mitigate some of these issues.
- Save important files locally to your PC (make sure this is approved by your employer first). If your files are stored in a cloud based environment where you need the internet to access them, it may behoove you to save some key files to your PC to ensure you can still access them in case you lose connectivity.
- Is your internet connection spotty? Most cell phone carriers let you use your phone as a “hot spot” so you can connect your computer to its WiFi. This has gotten me out of a few binds when I have lost internet coverage.
- Web conferencing is seeing a spike in usage right now, so if you are having issues with teleconferencing make sure to leverage the many tools available: Zoom, Google, WebEx and FaceTime to name a few. If one doesn’t work, have a backup method identified.
- Never give up on the age old advice of turning your computer off and on again. Sometimes that works wonders if you are having issues.
Working from home brings the potential for more distractions. See my most recent article about ways to eliminate distractions and increase focus while working at home:
On the flip side, sometimes it’s hard to pull away from work when you are in the comfort of your own home. I have a hard time stopping sometimes when I am on a roll working on something.
- Set boundaries: try and set routine start and finish times each day.
- Take breaks: put reminders on your calendar or phone to stand up and walk around every hour or so.
- Don’t eat lunch at your desk: I am guilty of this one – it’s so easy to do, but try and take a few minutes to disconnect and eat away from your desk. The days I do this I find I’m much less tired at the end of my work day.
Working from home every day can become extremely isolating. Make sure to take these steps to keep in contact with the outside world.
- Substitute a video call for an email: instead of sending an email, consider scheduling a quick video conference for some face to face communication.
- Substitute a video call for a phone call: there is something to be said for seeing the person you are talking to, even if it’s only virtually. You have the ability to pick up on non verbal cues and body language. I am on multiple video calls all day most days in my job and I truly don’t feel isolated working from home because of the level of engagement that occurs on our video calls – it makes me feel like I am with my team members every day.
- Schedule virtual team events: hold a video conference at the end of a work day for you and your team members to relax and socialize. My team just held one – we had dog show-and-tell time and it was a lot of fun!
When your whole team is remote it’s harder to collaborate because you can’t just walk over to someone’s desk to talk.
- Keep your calendar/ schedule up to date and made available to your co-workers so they know when you are in meetings and when you are free to talk.
- Be available on chat and instant messaging tools. I would be lost without the ability to message with my team all day.
- Leverage collaboration tools: there are a lot of tools that allow you to have a team workspace environment: Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts or Slack to name a few.
Awkward video calls
The last thing you want is to be on a video call and have a family member or pet walking around not realizing they are on camera. Or even worse, you not even realizing your camera is on. Some suggestions:
- Have your back against a wall. I have my desk turned so people I am on video calls with only see the wall behind me. That eliminates the risk of my husband or dogs walking behind me without realizing I am on a video call.
- Leverage virtual backgrounds: some teleconference providers allow you to set a virtual background when you hold video calls. This is another great way to reduce the risk of distractions behind you on calls.
- Set expectations with family members: have a way to let your family members know when you are on a video call so they can be mindful of their behaviors.
- Recognize your computer’s method of telling you when your camera is ON – most have a light turn on at the top of the computer. Some teleconference tools automatically join with the camera defaulted to on. Be aware of when your camera is on or off to alleviate any potential awkward moments with your coworkers – like chugging straight from a 2 liter of Mt Dew not realizing your camera is on, for example. Sometimes you learn the hard way when it comes to webcams. 🙂
Working from home brings so many blessings – the more we share our tips and tricks, the more successful and productive we will all be during this unique time!
I would love to know if you are facing any other challenges as you work from home. Let me know in the comments!