Five Simple Tips for Working from Home

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TenFour is taking steps to respond in full force to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the piece below, Jim McHugh, Business Development Representative at TenFour, shares his experience transitioning to working from home as a salesperson in the IT infrastructure business. 

Jim McHugh   Business Development Representative

Jim McHugh
Business Development Representative

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has led to an unprecedented venture into remote working for millions of workers. The Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 56% of the U.S. workforce holds jobs that can be done remotely, whether it be partially or fully able to complete all tasks and duties from home. Before the COVID-19 crisis, only 3.6% of the employee workforce was working from home more than half time. Today, we can expect that the current number of employees working from home has increased drastically due to world-wide calls to stay home and practice social distancing.

In my position as Business Development Representative with TenFour, I’ve been working from home for the past week due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Last Monday when I packed up my work station and went home, I thought it would be very similar to working in the office. Thanks to tools like WebEx Teams, which has enabled video chats, instant messaging, and Team Spaces, the transition has been relatively painless as I’m able to keep in touch with my coworkers, managers, and clients with ease. However, there have been a few hiccups along the way that prompted me to compile a list of tips and tricks to continue performing at the best of my ability.

  1. Be Aware of Your Workspace and Background
    It was during my first video conference call with my team that I realized we are all working in different environments. I’ve set up my at-home desk in my basement workshop, and while it is neat with every tool in its designated spot, I realized that it can be distracting to my audience if they’re checking out my awesome workshop instead of paying attention to me. So I made the decision to rethink my new at-home workspace. Therefore, my first tip to you is to pay attention to what is in your background.

    Be sure to check if the device or application you’re using for remote work enables you to blur or modify your background’s appearance within your broadcast. If it does not, a plain wall or tidy room will serve you well. Even if you have to put up a bedsheet as your backdrop, plain and simple is the best. In the same way, keep yourself looking professional; you’re at home but you still represent your company. I still put on a button up shirt every day, although I may be wearing sweat pants.

  2. Check Your Audio
    The next tip I have is for your microphone, meaning what you are using to talk through your computer. At the start of my first week working from home, I was using my computer’s microphone for video calls. I didn’t realize that whenever I type on my keyboard or make any other background noise, the person on the other end of my call might feel like they are in the middle of an audio earthquake as they hear the pounding of the keys through the mic. To solve this problem, I opted to use an external headset. Not only does this allow me to have a steady audio output, but since the microphone is right next to my mouth, it is less likely to pick up outside noises like the dog barking at the mailman. An important detail to note is where the microphone on your headset is located. If it’s on the cord, make sure it’s not rubbing against your shirt or coming into contact with any other interference.

  3. Locate Your Computer Settings and Preferences
    During your time working from home, it is inevitable that something on your computer won’t work properly at some point. The speaker volume is too low, the microphone is set to the wrong input, your webcam is not connected, or various other annoyances that can hinder your quality of work. To manage these issues, I recommend that you spend ten minutes figuring out where the settings are located on your computer. Then if anything goes wrong, you will know where to go to fix it quickly.

  4. Get Comfortable with the Webcam
    This tip for working from home is simple: use video conferencing as much as possible. WebEx is a great tool, whether it is Teams for collaboration, Meetings to meet in larger groups, Events for company-wide communications, or Training to continue to educate your coworkers. It may seem trivial, but allowing your team or customer to see your face significantly adds to the interactions that you have. Gestures and mannerisms can alter the tone of a conversation and make a difference in keeping positive working relationships. Since I’m not currently in the office and able to see my teammates or customers, video conferencing allows me to interact with them and feel like we are meeting face to face.

  5. Keep a Schedule and Take Breaks
    When working in the office, you probably have the usual water cooler crew chat, morning gossip at the coffee station, or lunch breaks with some in-office board games. Then you leave work at the end of the day and go home, leaving your actual work in the office until the next day. I have noticed that since I’ve been working from home, I seem to never leave work. This is good because I am getting more work done! However, I need to remind myself to stick to a schedule and step away from my desk to take breaks. I’ve found it helpful to stick to my regular routine as it was when I was working in the office: wake up, shower, get dressed, start work, have lunch away from the desk, and know when it’s time to log off. Additionally, make sure to take breaks throughout the day. Whether it’s a walk around the block, brewing a new pot of coffee, or saying hi to the puppy, it is important to take those 10 minutes away from your desk every once in a while.

Studies have shown that the flexibility of working from home can increase productivity, as verified by 85% of respondents in The IWG Global Workspace Survey. These five tips may seem simple, but following them will greatly improve your work from home experience for both you and those with which you work. Overall, remember that there are UCC tools that can help you achieve everything you need to continue doing your job from home. There are many resources on using these technologies, but if you have any questions regarding UCC products or would like assistance deploying them, please contact us at TenFour. I am confident in our abilities as we continue to support our customers and employees through these changing times.

Copyright © 2020 TenFour | Photo by Christin Hume

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