Work From Home: Bits, Bricks and Behaviours
Productive and enjoyable work environments are always a combination of bits, bricks, and behavior. This is also true for the home office. I want to share a few tips based on my own experience as a home and co-worker, and building tools that enable these new work styles.
Starting off with the obvious, you need fast DSL as 100% of your communication and collaboration happens online. To ensure good quality for your voice, video and screen share sessions, make sure you have sufficient download and upload speeds over home WIFI. My recommendation is 1 Mbit/s or higher.
Another important element is the collaboration platform you and your virtual team choose. Here are a few key points to consider:
- All collaboration and communication channels should be in one, easy-to-use and scalable platform to facilitate the orchestration of work. Considering your work is completely virtual, you and your team have many calls and share a lot of content throughout the day and week, and having to switch between different apps for messaging, VoIP, screen sharing, etc. is inefficient and exhausting,
- To make sure customers and partners can reach you in the home office, your collaboration platform should integrate with telephony services in the cloud or on-premise,
- If there‘s a risk of unplanned or uncontrollable background noise, noise-canceling headsets with an easily accessible mute button make a lot of sense.
There are many useful tips online about how to set up your home office and they essentially come down to two key aspects. First, the home office is office space and should be equipped accordingly: Work close to windows and natural light, get ergonomic chairs and tables, set up your monitors on eye level. Second, define a separate space for work. It can be a separate room or a clearly demarcated space within a bigger room. It‘s important to maintain clear boundaries between your private and work lives. Wirecutter has shared a few great tips on how to work from home with children.
While you work alone from home, you are obviously part of a larger organization or community. Besides the actual work results, it‘s important to maintain a high level of trust and personal visibility. There are a few things you can do: First of all, use video conferencing particularly for important meetings with new colleagues, customers or partners where it‘s important to see physical reactions. Once you‘ve built a good level of trust and connection, you can go back to voice-only. Some teams found it efficient to make video mandatory to keep distractions during virtual meetings at a minimum.
In case of doubt, overshare. With the right collaboration tools, it‘s easy to leave a quick message with your team about your priorities, blocking points or to celebrate accomplishments. It‘s, in fact, the only way to keep track of what‘s going on outside your home office and to ensure your work is visible for others. For virtual teams, it makes sense to have regular, even daily standups, to provide an agile but structured framework to keep each other in the loop and ask for help where needed.
With these tips in mind, you will benefit from a healthier work-life balance and greater flexibility, while controlling risks and downsides these environments inevitable bring.