For Remote Employees: Six Best Practices for Working from Home

March 27, 2020
By Julie Kent-Ransom

The number of employees working remotely today is unprecedented. Whether you’re a long-time remote worker or this is your first time working from home, the six tips below will help you become a more productive and effective member of your team.

Setting Up your Home Office

1. Check your Equipment: Although your employer might have provisioned you with a laptop computer and access to one or more collaboration tools, there are a few home office must-haves that you might need to take care of on your own:

  • Secure internet connection – As a first step, you’ll want to ensure you’ve got a secure, high-speed internet connection. Using an unsecured connection not only has the potential to cause applications to run slowly, but it could also expose sensitive company information.
  • Stereo VoIP headset – You’ll want to have the ability to participate in meetings hands-free, join VoIP calls from your softphone applications and minimize any background noises. A wide selection of headsets are available today that can accommodate most budgets, as an alternative you can use a set of earbuds - just be sure they feature a microphone.
  • Additional monitor – Working on a small laptop screen is not ideal for accessing multiple applications simultaneously. Monitors are available at a variety of sizes and price points, but it’s a good idea to check with your IT department to see if any available extra equipment can be assigned for use in your home office.

2. Designate a Workspace: Whether it’s a separate room in your home or a seat at the dining room table, designate a workspace for your home office. This should be a quiet spot with good lighting and a degree of privacy for when you need to participate in video collaboration. Your home office does not need to be devoid of signs that someone lives there, but be sure you’re camera-ready it’s a good idea to clear your background of any clutter of potentially distracting items (and avoid embarrassment by keeping an eye on the little green light next to your webcam to know when your camera is turned on).

Optimizing Collaboration

We’re all relying more heavily on online meeting and collaboration tools to complete our day-to-day interaction with customers, colleagues and partners. Implementing a few simple best practices can ensure these interactions are seamless.

3. Make the most of your remote meetings: As face-to-face interactions are replaced by telephone calls, carrier networks across the globe are dealing with significant, but intermittent, congestion. This can result in a reduction in voice quality or an increase in dropped calls.

These challenges, though, are typically the result of spikes in peak demand occurring at the times when calls and meetings are most likely to begin – at the top or bottom of each hour. Calls initiated at other times tend to result in a better overall experience.

If you are experiencing connection problems when attempting to join meetings, we recommend you use these best practices:

Before your meeting

  • Schedule the start of your meeting a few minutes off of the top or bottom of the hour

At the start of your meeting

  • Plan to join your meeting a few minutes prior to scheduled start time.
  • When telephone carrier congestion is especially high, use voice over internet protocol (VoIP) option for your audio connection. Be sure to check out our best practices and tips for using VoIP.

For further insights into maximizing the value of your meetings, check out our special resources page.

4. Avoid notification overload: Persistent collaboration tools like Cisco Webex Teams and Microsoft Teams are wonderful for engaging with your remote colleagues in real-time. With hundreds or even thousands of coworkers collaborating across these applications, the volume of notifications can be overwhelming.

To quiet the noise, you can modify your notification settings to only receive alerts from certain team spaces, or when you are mentioned directly in a post. Beyond maintaining control of notification settings, try to practice good team collaboration etiquette: use threads to track conversations, write concisely (remember multiple messages in a space = multiple notifications for everyone) and tag users by name if you need to get someone’s attention.

Staying Mentally and Physically Healthy

Working from home can create a blurred line between the workday and your home life. It’s important to set boundaries and establish a routine for working from home.

5. Dress for success: While it’s tempting, avoid adopting a “pajama casual” dress code when working from home. Chances are good you’ll be on video at some point during the day. Even if video meetings are not part of your regular workday, studies show a direct correlation between how we perceive our looks and how we feel.

6. Get moving: Too much screen time can take a toll on mental and physical wellbeing. That’s why it’s even more important when working from home to make time in your schedule to take breaks, get up and move around, take a walk outside and avoid eating lunch at your workstation.

Learn more about Intrado’s special offers to help your teams work remotely.

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