Tips on How to Successfully Work from Home

Author: Jim Bain | Field Operations Manager

So you are going to work from home because of the Coronavirus.  This is definitely not that Dos Equis virus from on Cinco de Mayo last year…  This is serious.  Add to that the change of figuring out how to from home instead of going to the office and it can be overwhelming. Fear not. Here are some tips from a remote worker that will really help you get set up as we all do our part to get through this.

work from home coronavirus
  1. Setting up a work space may be the most important part to start with.  You are at home.  But you are not at home.  Once you enter that space, you are at work. A Den. Room in the basement. Any quiet place with a door works best. 

    • If you don’t have that then get inventive.  A shower curtain in the corner of your bedroom on a tension rod also gives the sense of blocking out the outside world.  Heck, if you get a green curtain then maybe you can do some green screen effects on a video conference… but I digress.

    • Test your internet connection for VoIP to make work calls.  BullsEye Telecom is offering a free web tool to get you started called VRT (VoIP Readiness Test).  It is more than a speed test.  It is going to take a couple minutes because it will simulate VoIP calls to help identify any potential problems with your internet connection:  http://www.bullseyetelecom.com/tools/intelligentvrt/

    • How is your company set with network resources?  Some companies use VPN for remote access.  But VPN can result in ‘hair pinning’ all your work application and VoIP traffic through a remote server hundreds or thousands of miles away.  It is like having only 1 road out of your neighborhood.  Run that BullsEye VRT with and without VPN and see for yourself.  Look at the options on the BullsEye web site and talk with your IT team to make sure your network is optimized for remote access. 

  2. Set up a routine to get started each morning.  Maybe you have a gas station you like for coffee on the way to work.  All the things you do on the way to work are a way of easing into work from home.  You still need to ease into work at home.  You can still drink the coffee.  You can still listen to your favorite radio stations or podcast.  I worked from home for 8 years before it dawned on me that I could start each day playing music I liked on Spotify as loud as I wanted to get pumped up for the day.  Loud music brings me to the next item.

  3. Set up ground rules at home with your family or roommates.  Just like a recording booth with that red “On Air” sign lit, there needs to be an agreed upon way you signal everyone else that you are working.  Otherwise, someone may walk in and start talking to you while you are in a conference.  Or, expect that you will do the dishes, wash clothes, take out trash, etc. because you are at home.  Nope.  You are at work.  Maybe you could throw a load in the wash during lunch… that brings up the next point.

  4. Set a schedule with coworkers for breaks/lunch and stick to it!  I still struggle with this because I want to get stuff done.  Skipping lunch seems like a good idea.  But, it is a good idea that is going to go bad.  Talking on the phone will be a big part of communicating from home.  Customers and co-workers can hear the stress in your voice.  Nobody wants to talk with a tense, hangry, frazzled person.  However, we can all hear in your voice when you are smiling.  Make Alexa or Google remind you when break is over and get out of that work space.  Walk around.  Get a snack and a glass of water.  Look up funny cat videos in your dining room.  Those are 10-15 min.  Just make sure you are not in that work space.  But, what if someone calls?  Make sure to set you status in MS Teams, UC or IM app you use for work.  And, drop your team a line to say when you will be back.  And, make sure to use a time of day and not 10 minutes.  How are we going to know when that timer started?  Saying you are gone to lunch and will be back at 1PM CT is direct and to the point.

  5. Be Positive!  It is a change to deal with working from home compared to going to where you work.  It is up to us as individuals to make win-win situations out of what we have.  In 1999, my job sent me to a 2 week training course.  Being away from my wife and son for 2 weeks was let’s say less than optimal.  But, the course was just outside Orlando.  I got 2 plane ticket for them and flew them in a couple days after the course started.  We all stayed in the same room.  They were at the pool in the sunshine during the day while I was in training.  And, we went to Disney and Universal Studios over the weekend.  The situation we have today can seem daunting.  We are going to get through this.  And, we will have found a way to save some sick days along the way.  Then we can save PTO for when for when this mess is over and we are well enough that we can really enjoy the time off.

A Solution to Maintaining Social Distancing for Your Company

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