Working from home is a new reality for many people right now. As we all strive to stay safe, stay home and stay healthy, the ways we’re connecting with colleagues is more electronic than face-to-face. If this is a big change for you – or if it’s not – these tips can help you make the most of it.
This is a necessity – especially if you share your home with other people. Whether you have a room dedicated as your office or not, take care of a few things before the workday starts:
- What hours will you be working, and what times will your group calls and meetings be? Spot check this the night before. If you don’t live alone, let others know when not to interrupt you.
- If you’ll join video calls (with your face on screen), set up a location for this with good lighting and a background that isn’t too distracting. Choose a spot where you have a good Wi-Fi signal and where you’re as free from noise and interruptions as possible.
- Bring headphones, chargers and cables and other things you’ll need to your workstation. And, charge all electronic devices overnight – especially your phone.
Build in redundancies – for calls, internet and power.
Know how you’ll call, use the internet – and how you’ll stay powered up through the day – even when your standard methods aren’t an option.
- Do you have more than one way to call or receive calls (wireless, online calling, a landline, a feature in your car)? It’s good to have 2 to 3 options available to you in case you can’t connect via your smartphone. Also, know if you can take or make calls on wireless devices other than your phone, like a tablet or smartwatch.
- Have a backup plan for your connection to the net. Depending on your wireless plan, you may be able to activate a hotspot on your phone to stay online (Just be sure you know how using it will impact your data plan). Depending on the age and brand of your car, you may also be able to activate a built-in hotspot
- Think through how you’ll stay powered up for work in case you experience a temporary electricity outage. If you had no power at home for an hour or two, is your smartphone, tablet and laptop fully charged? Do you have portable chargers for your devices standing by? Do you have a backup power source for your Wi-Fi gateway? If you do, are they fully charged?
Make yourself available – in multiple ways.
Think about the ways you communicate with colleagues. Not everything makes sense for a call. But relying too much on email can mean your message or request doesn’t break through. The same goes for the email you receive. When you’re busy, it can be easy to miss something.
So, find out if you can text and instant message coworkers. If you can, make sure you stay available through these channels too. It can help you and the people you work with stay in sync on time sensitive issues and requests. It can also enhance your productivity. Just be sure to reserve text and IM for short, quick details so you’re not overwhelming others with information.
Telecommuting means less in-person interaction. So, it’s not as easy to pick up on the unspoken things and nuances around the work you do with others. Be sure you aren’t quick to judge an email, text or IM that generates confusion or an emotional reaction on your part. Think it through before you respond. If it can wait, give yourself extra time and distance from your initial reaction. You may see the issue differently once you step away and come back to it.
On the flip side, when you experience something positive – help from someone, a team win, a useful tip or set of information… be sure to proactively thank people in your work circles. Recognizing these contributions, efforts and successes – no matter how large or small – shows you notice and that you care. And, it’s worth the extra 30 seconds it might take you to write and send an email, text or IM.
Plan breaks in your workday.
When you work from home, it’s really easy to work for long spans of time without interruptions. You’re not commuting, walking to meetings, leaving for lunch, etc. That seems great for your productivity… Just be sure you keep it in check. It’s good to give your mind a break, periodically. Briefly stepping away from an assignment or deliverable means you can return to it with a fresh perspective. And, sometimes, that can mean you actually finish it faster.
Definitely meet your deadlines and respect meeting times. But, also pause a time or two a day to briefly clear your mind. Make yourself a cup of coffee. Look at the sky outside. Give your pet some undivided attention. Listen to a song or something soothing. You get the idea.
There’s no denying that the world around us is full of changes. That includes the ways many of us are working right now. No matter how you’re approaching it, remember: You have options. You can connect. And, you can make the most of both.
This article was written by Amanda L. Ray, an AT&T employee and a TechBuzz contributor. The statements in this article are her own and don’t necessarily represent the positions, strategies, or opinions of AT&T.
If you’re an AT&T customer, you can find account support information related to COVID–19 here.