Companies are asking employees to work from home to practice social distancing. Virtual meetings and workspaces are essential. According to Cisco’s Webex, they have already seen 5.5 billion virtual meeting minutes and Microsoft saw its Team app up 500% amid China’s lockdown.
Our food and beverage marketing agency uses Slack and Trello to collaborate on projects and direct messages to each other, and the team uses GoToMeetings to collaborate for video conferencing. ColinKurtis prides itself on flexible workspaces with many employees working remotely daily, so we asked our team (remotely and on Trello) to provide the five best work from home tips, tricks and tools to stay productive and avoid distractions.
- Create a Dedicated Workspace
A dedicated workspace with the right equipment — desk, two monitors, high-speed internet, a headset, office chair, keyboard and mouse can help remote workers focus. Having a dedicated office can help avoid distractions. Especially now, parents might have kids home from school, so it’s important to help others understand if the door is closed (or a quiet sign is up) don’t interrupt. Juanita suggests if you use printed documents, purposely put your printer on a different floor or room, so you are forced to stand, walk and take the stairs. Michael advises setting up fast internet on your porch or patio when the weather is nice enough.
- Create a Morning Routine
While it might sound great to roll out of bed 5 minutes before starting work, many experts and several team members suggest having a normal morning routine, as you would be going to the office — make your coffee or tea, take a shower and avoid the PJs (you never know when that last-minute video conference might come up — unless you want everyone to see your Power Ranger PJs).
- Take a Screen Break + Keep Moving
Dedicate time to get away from the screen — this is a good rule for the office or working from home. A lot of remote workers wake up, start working and it can be hard to take a break when the proper space is set up with no distractions. Laura, Ashley and Matt walk and play with their fur babies on breaks, which can also help reduce stress! Kevin learned the hard way that it is essential to walk your dog before a long conference call — his pup had an accident and the Roomba ran right over it — we’ll let you imagine that for yourself. Courtney takes a few extra “laps” when heading to the kitchen for water and lunch.
- Communicate Regularly
Carrie recommends regular communication helps keep other team members up to date and engaged. However, avoid the temptation to overwhelm/bombard others. Use software tools to manage projects and consolidate emails — don’t be afraid to pick up the phone — a 5-minute conversation can eliminate 20 emails and help others feel connected.
- Know Technology Might Fail
Technology may fail, so knowing how to troubleshoot is vital. Dial into meetings a few minutes early, use your phone as opposed to computer connections or send an email if you can’t screen share.
Remember that the bottom line is to figure out what works best for you to collaborate with your team and stay productive!