Working from Home During an Outbreak
Updated: Mar 17, 2020
So, your company is mandating or allowing you to work from home during the corona virus outbreak.
Whether you are an experienced Work from Home expert or whether this is all new to you here are a few tips and ideas to help make the process a little smoother. If you are a WFH expert please share your thoughts in the comments so that we all can benefit from your experience.
Let’s Get Started
What do you do first?
What do you do next?
How do you keep your work on track?
If you are a manager how do you keep your team on track?
These are some of the questions that companies are having to answer now with the corona outbreak upon us. These questions aren’t new, but they are coming to a head right now because of the corona virus outbreak.
This post will address the questions above and add a few more elements into the conversation that you may have already thought about. And, it may bring new ideas to your thinking and process.
What should you do first?
Besides the obvious of making sure you and your work area is ready to get to work. There are a few other things that you should consider.
One, and this is becoming more of a challenge because multiple companies are requesting or mandating that their workers work from home. And, that is finding suitable work areas especially if there are multiple people in the house that need to have a work area for themselves.
This is not an insurmountable challenge. Lots of people have worked from home for years. However, it hasn’t always been the case where multiple family members are under the same mandate and need to work from home and get things done at the same time and sometimes those are conversations that need to happen with a level of quiet that can be hard to find at home. And sometimes those work efforts need more privacy than the typical home may provide.
So, what do you do?
First off you might need to set some time zones and some boundaries were certain areas of the house are set aside to get things done. If you aren’t used to working from home or if only a few of the people working from home are it’s important to set boundaries and guidelines for getting things done.
For example, if you need focus time you may want to work out an arrangement where you get a particular room or an office area or even the kitchen table from a set period of time.
Caveat: make sure you leave time for others to use a focus area
Since there might be multiple people that need to get things done to be prepared to negotiate for space. Perhaps if you need to make a private call others can take that time to make a cup of tea or get some reading done in another area.
Everyone has different work parameters that help keep them focused and on track. If you like to have a radio or TV on … great. But, because you are working from home beware of being sucked into “just one more episode” of that TV series on the streaming media du jour.
What do you do next?
Make sure your technology is ready to be used in a work from home environment. Does your company or do your clients mandate that you connect through a VPN client? If yes, make sure you have that client loaded onto all of the devices you need to use.
Pro Tip: Make sure it’s on ALL of the devices you use – PC, Tablet, Mobile Phone, etc.
Also, make sure your work from home technology needs are met. For example, do you have a high-speed Internet? Do you have a WiFi router with enough capacity to handle all the devices you might want to connect to? Hint: the number of devices adds up fast. PC, phone, tablet, etc. X the number of users. At my house, we regularly have more than 20 devices connected to the WiFi.
Pre-Work From Home Checklist:
Do you have all the apps loaded that you’ll need?
Do you know where to obtain them and other apps on your company network? Just in case you forgot one or two.
Do you need an extra monitor at home? Can you borrow one from the office if needed?
Do you use a headset at work? Make sure you pack that with your WFH kit.
Checking in - a few items to consider
In order to keep things on track, you can use all of your usual time management techniques. However, since you won’t be at the office you might want to emulate some of the conditions of the office. I’ve done these and they work well. You can decide how much and how often you might want to use them. But, know this … checking in and being available for check-ins is a great way to stay connected and stay on track.
Pro-Tip: Keep a Slack, Teams, or Zoom channel open for “drive-bys”
What does this mean? It means exactly what it sounds like. Keep the camera on and the speaker volume up. You can turn the microphone off and point the camera to the side if you like. But, having the option to “drop by” your desk … even if you are at home … it is a great option for you and your team (and your clients if you are so inclined) to stay connected.
Trickle Up Economics
A few parting words about working from home and working remotely. Remember this is all about people. The people in your local community or the area where you decide to work remotely are also trying to make sure this outbreak doesn’t wipe out their business. Help them buy shopping locally… even if you do take out or “No Contact” deliveries.
Shop local – The work you create today will ripple out in the community
Think Positive Sum Collaboration – It’s not about hoarding. It’s about getting more done together. Share the work. Share the credit. Share the rewards.
Don’t forget the why – At the end of the day people buy from people, people work with people, people need people. It’s WHY we are in business.
The corona virus outbreak is The Great Supply Chain Stress Test. It begins and ends with people. Allowing employees to work remotely is not only smart it might just lead to breakthroughs in both productivity and collaboration.
This may be the first in a series of posts on Working Remotely. Watch this space. There is a lot to unpack in the Work from Home, Results Only Work Environment, and Working Remotely.
Thanks for reading. As mentioned above if you have tips and tricks for working from home please share them in the comments. We are all in this together and every tip counts.
About the Author
Jeff Shuey is a business advisor, mentor and community engagement expert. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and K2. He is currently at Oracle where he works with partners, including Microsoft and Microsoft partners, to create Hybrid Cloud solutions on a global scale.
Connect with him on Twitter @jshuey