Tips For Working From Home

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Working From Home

Are you struggling with your transition to WFH during COVID-19? 

In the past few years, an increasing number of companies have experimented with allowing employees to telework or work from home, at least once a week. Little did we expect the transformation that has occurred over the past few weeks. The Coronavirus pandemic has forced all but the most essential businesses and services to close their physical facilities, requiring many employees to work from home.   

For those used to working in an office setting, working from home can be a big adjustment. From not having the usual equipment, to managing teams virtually, to getting used to having your loved ones as your full-time coworkers, it’s a lot to take in!  

Are you an employer transitioning your workforce online? Or maybe your school district is transitioning to online learning?  We’d like to learn more about your specific needs and pain points. Fill out this survey to help us understand how we can help!

CSD went virtual in 2015, so most of our employees work from home daily. CSD Chief Technology Officer, Charles McFadden, points out that “The transition from a work office to a home office is disruptive enough by itself.  Our employers need each of us to be at our productive best by getting meaningful work done. At CSD, we have implemented a strong portfolio of carefully selected and integrated cloud-based software tools designed to allow each of our virtual employees to work with optimal efficiency regardless of which department they work under – Finance, Sales, Marketing, Business Development, Operations, Legal/Compliance, Human Resources, etc.”

Now that you are working from home, issues that your IT team would typically take care of are now yours to tackle. Keep reading for some useful tips from our seasoned employees on how you can create an environment that will help you be as productive at home as you were in the office.

IT Considerations

Test Your Home Network

Your home might be equipped with enough internet speed designed to support basic email, messaging, and browsing activities. However, working from home and conducting meetings through video conference calls, may push the limits of what your internet connection was designed to handle. Below are some ways you can test the limits of your connection.

Try to get a sense of how many devices are connected to your home network. You may be surprised when you count them all!

Internet-connected devices can include computers, video phones, smartphones, tablets, gaming systems, printers, and smart appliances such as Nest and Ring. If all of the devices are in active use, your network performance may take a hit. Try turning off or disconnecting these devices during working hours.

 

Test Your Internet Speed

Are you getting the speeds you’re paying for? Speed requirements vary from household to household due to factors such as number of devices and internet usage. Generally speaking, you’d want speeds of at least 3 Mbps download and 1.5 – 2 Mbps upload with the understanding there’s no one else on your home network currently downloading something, streaming a video, or playing an online game. According to BandwithNow.com “…modern households [typically] need Internet speeds of at least 25 Mbps download to enjoy activities like streaming video on multiple devices.”

With video conferencing on the rise, it is important to make sure that your bandwidth can support usage. Here are the bandwidth requirements from three of the most popular video conferencing platforms:

If you’re seeing blurry or pixelated video during meetings or when you’re on VP, that could be another sign your internet bandwidth is maxed out.  To see how much bandwidth you are using, you can test your speed at  https://testmy.net/. 

Once you’ve tested your speed, contact your Internet Service Provider (Comcast, Verizon, Spectrum, etc.) to ask if this is something they can fix. If not, you may need to upgrade your plan.   

Setting Up Your Workspace

For Laptop Computer Users

Consider investing in a wireless mouse and keyboard. These items generally cost between $20 to $70 each, depending on how advanced the features are. An external keyboard and mouse allow you to position your hands and arms more comfortably, lessening the strain on your body when working long hours on a laptop.

 

Get A Monitor or Two

Finding yourself switching between multiple windows and programs? Consider getting a second or even a third monitor. You can use one monitor as your “working” monitor. The other monitor can serve as your “reference” monitor, making it easy to check the agenda during a meeting, or keep track of incoming emails and messages while working on a project. 

 

Where and How You Sit is Important

Working from the sofa or bed might sound appealing, but you’re doing your body more harm than good. Instead of crouching over a coffee table or lying down with a laptop on your abdomen, invest in a table and chair.   

You can purchase all of these items from online retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, or Target. For more home office gadget recommendations, check out this blog.  

 

Tips For The Remote Worker

Working from home is an alternative lifestyle for many of us, but CSD has got your back. Our seasoned employees have compiled the following tips to help you in your transition to working from home.  Check out these 6 tips for maximizing your productivity at home.

 

Avoid Overworking Yourself

Research shows that working from home means longer hours, whether intentional or not. Practice self-care by performing a “commuting” ritual to help distinguish your workday, whether it’s putting on office clothes (sorry, pajamas) or going for a quick walk around the house or the neighborhood before you start. 

Once you’re “at work,” it can be easy to lose track of time. Set a time to shut off your computer and silence your smartphone, and be content with what you have achieved. Make sure you remember to inform your team you are going… then go!  

 

Prioritize Your Tasks

Feeling overwhelmed? Not sure where to start? Try the 1-3-5 rule: accomplish 1 big task, 3 medium tasks, and 5 small tasks each day. Maximize energy, not time. Tackle tasks based on how much bandwidth they’ll take and based on when you’re most “in the zone” for that task.  

Similarly, with less in-person meetings and more emails, it’s easy to feel like things are piling up. Practice making your emails actionable as soon as you open them: delete, reply, or turn it into a task. 

 

Mitigate Interruptions and Distractions

Designate a part of your living space as your working area, if space allows. A curtain or folding room divider goes a long way! Then, prioritize your day- block out “focus time” for your most important tasks. Shut down or mute apps and programs that are typically distracting. Establish a signal that lets others know when you are in “focus mode” and how to grab your attention for urgent matters.   

 

Isolation Isn’t Disconnection

Keep rapport going with your coworkers by setting up meetings, happy hours, or water cooler chats via Zoom or other online video conferencing apps. You can also organize virtual team-building exercises- there are many available like these online! 

Be more intentional about joining online classes, groups, or book clubs to develop and maintain relationships with others. Check out our recommendations for how to stay virtually connected to friends and family. If you’re able, get out of the house every few days to keep cabin fever in check. Make sure you maintain social distancing by staying six feet apart from others and put on that mask! 

 

Communication Protocols Are Key

Finding yourself having conversations across multiple platforms and devices? Establish the “rules of engagement” with your team by asking the following questions: what platforms should you use for specific tasks? How will you share specific kinds of information?  What is off-limits, and when?  

 

Prioritize Your Health

Used to walking around the office or going to the gym? Set reminders to get up and take short walks or do some light exercises throughout the workday. Keep that blood pumping!   

While working from home, it’s tempting to grab a quick bite and jump right back into work instead of cooking a healthy meal. Set up a meal calendar for each week so that you’re more intentional with what, when, and how you eat.  

Once you’re done for the day, turn off your notifications, and don’t check emails before bed. Instead, write down your to-do list for the next day before you go to sleep. It may sound counter-intuitive, but this will help you sleep more soundly.  

 

To learn more about how CSD successfully implemented its virtual workforce and whether CSD could help your organization address its virtual workplace challenges, feel free to contact us at  csd.org/contact.  Additionally, you can reach out to us and share your recommendations on social media on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter @thisisCSD. 

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