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One consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic has been that many suddenly find themselves working from home. While we initially rejoiced over no commute to the office anymore, the reality of trying to work from home eventually set in. Months of experience later, some best practices for working from our homes are now evident:

Keep a Routine

Now that we don’t have to commute, it is best to keep the routine of getting up, getting dressed for work, and going to your new home office.  No one wants to see you showing up to zoom morning meetings eating your breakfast or having just jumped out of the shower.  Prepare for a zoom meeting as if you were meeting in person, at least for the top half of the body!

Have an area to work in

If you don’t have a home office in your house already, you may want to reconfigure space to find a quiet and distraction-free area to work. As you will be communicating remotely with the office, try to establish a stable internet connection in your work area. This may require a new router or an update of existing equipment. If you don’t have a desk and a comfortable chair already, now may be time to invest in one as your back will thank you later.  Some thought should be given to lighting and background for video calls.  It’s best to have a light above and in front of you since a light source or a window behind you can make you appear as a silhouette. Review the background for video calls; it can be distracting to have a cluttered background.  At the end of the day, a plain wall or minimal items, strategically placed, in the background is best.

Set work hours

For those with a workspace, remember that it can be helpful to treat the area like an office.

Therefore, when work finishes for the day, we can get up and leave the area.  Unless you must, try to resist the urge to go back and check work emails. Rather, use your free time to unplug so you are prepared for the next workday.

Communicate

Working from home means communicating via phone or video.  In addition to having a non- cluttered area or a bare wall for video calls, it may be necessary to invest in noise-canceling headphones or earbuds to ensure optimal sound quality. Since video chat may be new to many people, utilize numerous tutorials available online to familiarize yourself with video chat functions such as: muting yourself, turning video on and off, having a meeting room for security on the chat, being able to have break out rooms and adding a virtual background.

Socialize

When we went to our offices most of our socialization was done around the water cooler or company kitchen. However, now that we are home, it is important that we adapt to new methods of socialization.  This can be done through video chats, email, or on the company slack channel.  For those that manage staff, it is important to reach out and check in on staff in whichever method you prefer. While previously this was simply stopping by their desk when we worked in offices, now it may be necessary to schedule a call or video chat to check-in.

A recent article from Fortune magazine cited Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, saying that working from home hurts both collaboration and innovation. As we navigate this new era of working from home, we need new, outside of the box ways to ensure further collaboration and innovation going forward.

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