You’re probably sick of getting COVID-19 related emails from literally every company you’ve ever interacted with.
As we venture into uncharted territory and more and more of us are working from home, we thought we’d share a few tricks of the trade. At Action Engineering, we are a virtual team spread across Colorado, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, so we’re used to figuring out the nuances of working remotely. We still have our own hiccups but thought we’d share a few tips so every call doesn’t become A Conference Call in Real Life.
- Set a clear agenda so everyone knows the purpose of the meeting and what they need to come prepared with. Include the agenda in the meeting invite.
- For meetings over an hour, plan to take a 5-minute break every hour to stretch, grab more coffee, let the dog out, and check to make sure the kids are still doing their schoolwork.
- Turn on the web camera. So much is missed when we can’t interact face-to-face. Using web cameras are the next best thing. This promotes accountability and helps keep us focused.
- You may still be in your pajamas, but brushing your hair is a good baseline for setting your intention to focus on your work day at home. Better yet, start your day with a shower and change into zippered pants.
- Also, lose the shame, everybody is working from home now — so who cares if your dog barks or your kiddo tugs at your sleeve?!
- Mute! Practice finding that mute button on all your devices! Stay on mute unless talking.
- Use a headset instead of speakerphone, when possible. No headset is ideally suited for all remote conferencing software (believe me, we’ve tried to find one), but here are our favorites: Jabra Evolve 75, Jabra Elite 65e, Plantronics Voyager 6200, and LG TONE INFINIM.
- Say your name before you speak on a call. When we’re on conference calls, we lose the ability to see visual cues when others are done talking. If we say our name before we speak it does two things: it helps identify us in a sea of voices, and it can help us realize how much we interrupt others.
- Overcommunicate. It’s human nature to just assume that someone knows what we’re talking about, so if we think we’re overcommunicating, we are often communicating the right amount.
- Check-in with each other. Since you won’t bump into your coworkers in the breakroom, you have to create that virtual watercooler. Here at Action Engineering, we have a running group chat message called #WaterCooler which we use for company-wide communications. Even just giving someone a quick 5-minute call to say hello can turn into a bigger conversation and help drive work forward.
- Keep your calendar up-to-date with your availability. Your calendar is a communication tool to others. Schedule your lunch, drop that 30-minute dog walk on your calendar, and stick to it! Your sanity depends on breaking up your work day. For calendar interoperability, we use FindTime, Calendly, and Doodle.
- Start the meeting 10 minutes early to work out the A/V kinks before the call starts. A/V often doesn’t work perfectly the first time!