Working from home used to appear like the dream way to get your work done. Till you had to do it. Then you questioned what was in the fridge, if the postal mail arrived yet, or one of a dozen other easy interruptions to make up for the solitude. Well, that reality is now being enforced upon many of the world’s workers in ways that were not wanted or expected.
How do you turn distant work into a productivity blessing and more pleasant experience?
Most companies think this to be a temporary situation, though there are experts claiming that this will kick off a more lasting and steady work from home trend. I am doubtful. There’s enough of reasons why many people want to work from an office, with other people, in spite of the commute times and human challenges. We are social creatures. Most of us, anyhow.
Some of the fundamentals based on years of personal knowledge as well as advice I have obtained over the years, some human-ish, some tech-ish:
1. Get clad. Working in your pajamas sounds stylish, but you will feel a bit lethargic and too relaxed. And above, if you start a work call and hit the video button by fault, well…
2. Build a dedicated work area, even if it is short-term during this Coronavirus situation. A separate workspace is healthy and also help you adhere to your regular work routine, even though you are not present in the office. Moreover, it lets you shut the door and leave work behind.
3. Duplicate your office work tech as much as possible. If you work with two screens, drag them home for this time. If you don’t have two screens, I don’t see why not?
4. Since you might not have a huge desk and chair arrangement at home, plan to take more physical pauses to get up, stretch, move around. Avoid the fridge, although. Keep your regular coffee break and lunch time, but prevent distractions.
5. Catch noise-cancelling headphones if you need to work in a conference call and your child is running around. Or get Krisp (more on it below). Or, get good and quick with that mute button.
6. Last but not the least, ensure you have high-speed, reliable internet.
Now coming to the five solid tech options:
Video Calls with Zoom
On the tech face, video calls can make a remote work day feel more linked. Accounts are free of cost for the basic plan, if your company does not have a corporate one before. Zoom is remarkable and, well, I would recommend something else if there was a better one. Some folks still promise by Skype and some even say FaceTime can be a great alternative. Zoom is loaded with features and is fast with crystal clear audio and video. Record the calls so members who cannot attend can listen in later.
Association with Slack
Many telecommuters, remote work types tell me they like Slack, which calls together messaging, and a single place for attachments, files. I’m not an admirer personally, but if your company does not already use it, then you can make a free level plan and request people into it. Think of it as the substitution for email, but you still have email, plus Slack.
Google Sheets and Docs
This chosen method may appear a bit heavy, but Google Docs or Sheets is a good option and let people collaborate. There is a chat feature (which is not that sophisticated, frankly). There are add-on tools, like Voice Typing but Zapier has an excellent, extensive list of helpful add-ons. If you haven’t heard of Zapier, then let me refer you to: Zapier Is The Web Service That Will Make Your Productivity Soar.
Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress, built and has a free, group common space called P2. It’s free and can be hosted on WordPress or self-hosted (meaning you have your own blog hosted, say, at Bluehost, and you want to cooperate with others — you can download the theme and install it).
Use Krisp If You Do Not Have Noise-cancelling Headphones
Accolade to Matt from WordPress for the shoutout about the Krisp app that lets you mute background noise during calls. Free for 60 minutes free each week. If you use Krisp for iOS, Apple users get 240 minutes free every week. What? Platform bias, in my view.
You can speak and listen without noise. I have not draped my head around how it works yet, but the site states: “World’s Best Innovative Noise Cancellation Technology Powered by Deep Neural Network.” They assure they will not store or send any of your calls; it is all handled on your machine.