by Diana Ennen, President of Virtual Word Publishing and author of “Virtual Assistant, The Series: Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA“
As more and more look to work from home given the present state of things, it’s important to know some ways to implement it. If you haven’t done it previously it can seem challenging, but it doesn’t have to be.
These tips should help.
1. Internet is crucial.
Repeat the internet is crucial. Get it set up and know what to do if it happens to go down. If your company provides tech support utilize it. However, don’t wait until the last minute. If major companies send everyone home to work, your favorite tech support guy is going to be extremely busy. So get prepared.
2. Test your equipment and work out any bugs.
I’d love to say this is going to be a flawless operation, but that’s not necessarily the case. Those who have worked from home for years (I’m at 35 years) know that things happen and how you deal with it is what can save you. Set up your computer, printer, etc., and test all features.
Keep in mind, speed is important. Your computer from 2007 might not cut it today so if you have to get a new one. Often companies are paying for these expenses. Not sure how to do something, a quick Google search or a YouTube video might be just the answer you need. If not, talk with someone with experience and get their recommendations.
3. Supply and Demand.
Stock up on business suppliers such as paper, ink, etc. Right now you can get plenty, but you never know what will happen so be prepared. Also, if you aren’t used to working at home, you absolutely don’t want to run out of ink … EVER!
4. Back up all work.
Your company more than likely had back-ups already in place. But now that you are home it’s imperative that you set this up immediately. A flash drive, cloud storage such as Dropbox, and also Carbonite are good recommendations. I have them all.
5. Skype and Zoom will be your best friends.
These allow you to have audio and video conferences. Before you have a conference, learn the basics and test that you can be heard and seen. Nothing is more frustrating than someone attending a meeting and you can’t hear or see the person who is there. Valuable time can be wasted here. Also, remember you can often record conferences. That’s benefit especially in the early days when things are more stressful.
6. Set up your webcam.
Invest in a good one too. More importantly though check it out and see how you look. When it’s too close all you can see is your face and close up that can be not the most flattering. Also review your background. Anything that is in view should be cleaned up. Now is not the time to see your 20 bottles of old Diet Cokes you haven’t thrown away. I mean who does that? (Guilty as charged!)
7. Set up a dedicated area.
If you can convert a room or a part of a room to an office that is the best scenario. Find a place where the interruptions are less frequent and also away from barking dogs and other distractions. Being able to shut the door too is a godsend. However, work with what you have.
8. Discuss your needs with your family and any friends.
Be firm on the fact that you’re working and just because you are home, you can’t talk for hours or go for coffee. If you have children let them know you need to work as well. They might love the fact that mom or dad is at home now and that’s awesome, but it can add additional stress you don’t need especially as you are trying to figure out your work arrangement.
9. Have Activities For Your Children Ahead of Time.
With small children prepare now and have a goodie basket of things such as crayons, coloring books, books, etc. that you can give them to help keep them busy allowing you to take calls and work. All my kids now remember times where I threw a basket of fun things to them while on an important call. They loved it. The Dollar Store can make this less expensive or make some of your own by printing out coloring pages. Of course, prepare depending on your child’s age. And no – too many cartoons or Netflix right now is not bad! They have probably heard the news too and this can be relaxing for them.
10. When on important calls or conferences, be sure to turn off any distractions.
If you are on Skype, turn your phone off so you can’t hear voice mails. Log out of email programs such as Outlook so all your notifications don’t appear if you have it set up that way. If you have a dog that barks every time someone knocks on the door put a note on the door not to knock. UPS has hurt many a conference call for me so I do this every time now. What else? Review what your needs might be and plan accordingly.
11. Write down all your passwords.
I’ll leave it at that. You’ll thank me later for that one!
12. Set down clear guidelines on how you will be communicating.
It’s important to know whether that will be email, calls, etc. If you set clear criteria now, everyone wins as they know what to expect and it will be easier to do.
Remain calm. This is a situation that in and of itself is extremely stressful. Then you top that with having to figure out how to work virtually. Try and relax and take it a step at a time. Take frequent breaks and reach out to friends when too stressed. We will all get through this, but hopefully some of these tips helped.
Diana Ennen is the President of Virtual Word Publishing, offering PR and marketing services. She hosts PR classes through www.prsuccessseries.com, and is also the author of six books on starting your own business including the best-selling”Virtual Assistant, The Series: Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA“, Contact her at Diana@virtualwordpublishing.com or @dianaennen for a free PR Informational Package.