With all the uncertainties the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to our world, most of us now have a new normal. For me, it’s a new normal in which Zoom is no longer just a TV show I watched as a kid. For Nexight, it’s a new normal that will likely involve most of us continuing to work remotely in some capacity.
Full disclosure: I was a remotely based employee even before the pandemic, so working from home (WFH) was likely an easier transition for me than others. But, after more than 100 days of our new normal, I knew my intrepid colleagues would have some helpful tips and tricks to share, beyond my own, for maintaining productivity and effectiveness in a work from home environment—and they did not disappoint.
Here are our top 10 tips – our Nexight Insights, if you will – for maximizing productivity, staying connected, and making work from home work for you.
Use your tools wisely
1) Don’t become overly reliant on email and chat.
You can’t walk over and talk face-to-face with a colleague, and you may not want to schedule a “full meeting.” Don’t be afraid of asking for a 2-minute video call to quickly talk something out and save yourself 25 back-and-forth emails. (Ross Brindle)
2) Maintain your connectivity.
If your Wi-Fi is iffy or several folks in your house are draining your bandwidth, get an extra-long CAT5 cord and plug it directly into your laptop (port permitting). (Laurie Goodell)
3) Remember that screen sizes are small.
Pretty much the entire working world is interfacing on 13″ and 15″ laptop screens; it’s something to think about on many levels, from visual and graphic design of shared digital materials to framing yourself in video meetings. (Jason Pearlman)
4) Give yourself a break.
If you often find yourself with multiple back-to-back meetings, try scheduling meetings for 45 minutes rather than an hour to give yourself 15-minute breaks. (Jack Eisenhauer)
Get ready for your close up
5) Become conversant on a variety of videoconferencing platforms.
Different platforms can help you accommodate different groups’ needs and the functions of the meeting. Take the initiative to enable your camera to personalize a discussion. At the same time, consider using just audio in situations best suited for it, such as a large group or when no follow up conversation is expected. (Scott Drinkall)
6) Plan ahead for video calls.
If leading a client call, I make sure that my surroundings are clear and the background will look good on camera (or choose a virtual/blurred background if it won’t be). I also pay special attention to muting myself if I have to type while others are talking—the sound of my keyboard could be distracting to others. (Rachel Lanspa)
7) Dress to impress.
Your Zoom call may not be an in-person meeting but dressing professionally for video calls with clients or colleagues conveys your continued professionalism, regardless of the “meeting” format. (Related bonus tip: Avoid striped shirts—they give off weird effects on video!) (Mel Anton)
8) Ask others about their WFH situation and be upfront about yours.
It helps me to understand if others are currently watching kids, working non-traditional hours, experiencing Wi-Fi issues, etc.—and it’s helpful to let them know the same about me. I also think it gives us the opportunity to chat briefly before jumping into a work discussion, which people seem to appreciate. (Jack Holmes)
9) Be available to and social with your colleagues.
Make an effort to stay in touch with all members of your team, even just for a quick check in, maybe post a poll or a cute pet photo through your team’s IM app. Maintaining relationships and a sense of company culture—particularly if there are more recently hired employees on your team—is extra important since we don’t just bump into each other in the breakroom anymore. (Julianne Puckett)
Accentuate the positive
10) Lean into the added flexibility that WFH provides.
Always communicate with your team and supervisor, but if your home schedule or natural biorhythms mean you work best during something other than 9-5, explore the possibility of working those alternate hours occasionally or perhaps permanently. (Ross Brindle)
Now that you know how to become a WFH rockstar, check out more of our helpful tips: