Work From Home Tips
During this unprecedented pandemic, we want to do as much as we can to help you be productive without having to go in the office.
Above all, we want to encourage you to be flexible. Things will be different for a while, but my bet is – when this is all over, we will have learned some valuable lessons and maybe learned a few things about us that will help us grow into better versions of us. In the meantime, here are some suggestions to help as you work remotely (some about technology, some about the humans using the technology!)
Use Technology to your Advantage
The tools, applications and cloud storage built-in to Office 365 have never been more important or critical than they are right now. From conducting audio/video meetings with your team to collaborating on that marketing presentation or proposal that has to go out the door, you can connect to Office 365 from anywhere and have the same access to files, team members and systems that you have in the office.
- Email – we’re all familiar with this (and some of us a little too familiar)
- Apps – In Office 365, you have three ways to edit your office productivity documents:
- Online – Excel Online, Word Online, PowerPoint Online, and OneNote Online
- Mobile – on your iPhone, Android Phone, iPad or Android tablet by either using the consolidated Office app or each individual application (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook)
- Desktop – on your laptop or desktop, you can edit your files locally like always and retrieve and save data in the cloud with ease from OneDrive or SharePoint (with the OneDrive sync application available for both Windows and Mac)
- SharePoint – Microsoft’s hub of knowledge collaboration is a web-based portal solution that provides teams and projects with storage of files and other data
- Teams – Your hub for communicating with your team, your partners and customers
- Audio conferences/calls
- Video conferencing
- Live Meetings (1 to many presentations)
- File sharing
- And much more
- To-Do – Microsoft’s solution to knowing what you need to get done today, and every day.
- Planner – Project/task management for your team so that you can keep track of where you are on that project, what needs to be done and when you might need some help to get back on track.
- Whiteboard – Have you ever wanted to share a dry erase board with someone that wasn’t in the office – well now you can. You can use Whiteboard to have a digital whiteboard that you and your partners, colleagues, etc. can draw on together to share and create – best of all it is saved online so that you can pick right back up tomorrow or at the next meeting.
- Forms – Ever needed to collect information from someone but you weren’t in front of them to ask the right questions? Microsoft Form will allow you to quickly and easily request information and share that form with anyone – inside your company or out. You can then edit the responses in Excel and use that data anywhere!
- Stream – Think of Stream like YouTube just for your company. You can create training videos so that Karen in Seattle works just like Marvin in Atlanta. You can also record Teams meetings (audio and video) and store them in Stream so that missing attendees will be in the know and up to date for the next meeting.
- And, look at moving more to cloud resources. Servers in offices or apps that can only be run from one place are so “pre-2020 coronavirus.” If you have old technology that is in desperate need of an upgrade, now is the time! Have your IT provider help you find solutions that will make you more mobile and less dependent on a physical location. Trust me, you won’t go back. (Logic Speak has been working remotely every Wednesday for as long as I can remember and with the tools that we use, the experience is the same – in fact, without the drive into the office…we sometimes even get more done!)
Schedule work in blocks of time
One of the hardest things when working remotely is to get uninterrupted time, especially if your cute 5 mo. old is home too. Try to create and stick to a schedule as much as possible with your family members so that for the next two hours, you can close your door and hammer out as much work as possible. Be present wherever you are…if you are working, work. If you’re not working, don’t work. It seems obvious, but you can’t split your time between your work and family at home and give them both the attention that they need. Your family will be much more understanding and flexible when you need to work if you prioritize time with them when you aren’t working.
Similarly, it may be hard to adjust to having meetings anytime throughout the day, but the time required to stop what you’re doing and switch to the meeting (or worse, break away from your family to meet) is inefficient and unproductive time. Getting in the “meeting mode” once and having 2-4 meetings in a row is much more efficient (and has the added benefit of keeping your meetings from going over time since you have to hop to the next meeting).
Which reminds me – keep to your schedule. We all know what it feels like to have too much to do and not enough time to do it in. That is going to be life for the next few months unfortunately. But, once you develop a rhythm you will be surprised how much you can do in less time than it used to take you before.
Set realistic goals and prioritize your work
Since work time is scarcer, you don’t have the time margin to just work on anything. You have to prioritize and work on THE things that are the most important. Decide what those are upfront and intentionally and don’t let the urgent get in the way of the important. Do the most important things first each day (in the first block of work time). That will keep things moving and the smaller things will either get completed later, or they will end up not being as important as you thought. The key here is deciding what is most important, and that’s not always an easy thing to do.
Pick a spot for your work “place”
When you’re working from home, it can be convenient to just plop down anywhere and start working. If you make your whole house your office, you’ll never be able to leave the office! If you don’t already have a home office, try to find a quiet space to dedicate to work – it can be a guest room or spare bedroom, the dining room or the basement. That way each day when you work, you can “go” to the office and more importantly, when you stop working, you can actually leave the office and rejoin your family.
Be flexible with partners, vendors and customers during this time. If your vendor is normally “Johnny On The Spot” with responding to your emails and it now takes them a day or so to get back to you – they are likely balancing the demands of this new reality like you are. Flexibility and understanding is key!
And, trust each other. As a manager, it may feel like losing control when you let your employees work from home. How do you know that they are actually working? What if they are goofing off, watching the latest episode of The Blacklist in their underwear and not working? What if productivity takes a tumble? Well, the good news is – this is trial by fire. We have no choice…we HAVE to trust our people. You’ll know who is working, productive and available by their work product . And chances are…the ones that aren’t, you already knew they weren’t in the right seat (or even on the right bus) already. Empowering your employees to work from home with your trust will have a tremendous benefit – they will want to work harder for you. That’s what high powered people on a high powered team do.
Develop Virtual Friends
You won’t be able to go grab a beer with that buddy or have those interoffice conversations with your work relationships that keep you going – build in a video chat with a work friend or a buddy into your schedule (at least once a week). It will be awkward and “not the same” for the first few times, but keep at it – you’ll find that over time, you pick right up where you left off with that relationship and you both will get the social interaction that we as humans crave and need. Just because you’re on an island at your house, doesn’t mean you are an island.