Top 5 Work from Home Tech Tips

  • Bring Your Office Home 
    • You can skip the bad fluorescent lighting and the cubical walls but if you are used to multiple monitors and a great keyboard, working from a laptop gets old quickly.  Most companies are allowing their team members to take home equipment from the office.  So, schedule a time to go in when you can be safe and social distance and bring home that technology the company has already paid for.   
  • Make Your Workspace Comfortable 
    • This is not specifically a Tech Tip, but it will absolutely impact your ability to work effectively.  Just because you are working from home, a dining room chair is not going to automatically become comfortable for eight hours.  While you are in the office getting your monitors and keyboard, see if you can get approval to bring your chair home.  If you can’t get the chair (or if it was never that comfortable) make sure you make time to get up and walk around on a regular basis.  You know you’re already wearing sweatpants anyway because they don’t show on the video calls!
    • If you have the ability, dedicate a space for working from home, preferably with a door.  The spare bedroom, the basement, the laundry room (those sweatpants only need to be washed once a week).  It will help you be more focused and help create a routine. 
  • Video Conferencing 101 
    • No matter what the platform, the etiquette for video conferencing remains the same
      • Mute your microphone when you are not talking.
      • Make sure you are not backlit.  Sure, it looks artsy like an album cover or an old Alfred Hitchcock movie, but the point is to be able to see your face. 
      • Hand gestures are totally acceptable, especially when taking a vote.  So, use the “thumbs up” or “OK” signs and yes, you can even wave to one another. 
      • Be on time.  Meetings are still meetings and you can’t really blame traffic for being late. 
      • Try to get your camera at eye level.  It’s way more professional and you don’t want people looking up your nose for the entire meeting.  The boxes from all those jigsaw puzzles you’ve been doing to pass the time work great to elevate your laptop and the built-in camera.   
      • If your microphone on your laptop is not great or picks up too much background noise, an inexpensive pair of earbuds will often do a great job.  You can also try Krisp (www.krisp.ai) which is a noiseapp that works with just about every platform.  It is Free to download, and you get 120 minutes per day of free noisecancelling (the first two weeks you will get unlimited minutes).   
  • Filesharing 
    • If you’ve have not yet learned how to use your on-line filesharing, now is the time to take the plunge in hosted solutions!  Whether you are using Microsoft SharePoint (which includes OneDrive and comes with just about every version of Microsoft Office 365) or Google Drive or several of the other filesharing platforms out there, they were made for this situation.  You can have multiple people on a video call, all seeing the same document or spreadsheet, all with the ability to edit it in real time, simultaneously.  Versions are saved and work gets done.  You use the same applications that you are used to using, however, the actual document or spreadsheet is now in “the cloud”.  So, you can stop emailing things back and forth and stop swearing at your slow VPN. 
  • Phone CallsAlmost every business has moved to a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone system, meaning the system is in “the cloud”.  And even if your company has not gone to a VOIP system you should have the ability to forward your calls to your cell phone so your regular office number/extension can ring directly to you.  Most systems allow the voicemail to remain on the system, meaning that if you don’t answer the call, it will default to using the voicemail system that is part of your office phone system.  So, set up your office number to ring though and stay connected without having to broadcast your cell phone number to the whole world.   
    • If you have a VOIP system, you should have access to a “soft phone” application that you can install on your laptop, which allows you to use your laptop as your phone.  So, you have one less device cluttering your new home office.   
    • If you are using Microsoft Office 365 and are using Teams, you can make voice and video calls directly to any member of your team just by clicking the icon.  You may get more face time with your co-workers than you did when you were all in the same office!  If you are looking for some quick tutorial videos on Teams, Microsoft has many available on the web.  https://support.office.com/en-us/article/microsoft-teams-video-training-4f108e54-240b-4351-8084-b1089f0d21d7   

In 2020 working from home is no longer such a novel concept. Put these quick tech tips into place now to streamline your workspace and increase productivity.  

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