As more companies ask employees to work remotely, there are a number of things to consider. I have assembled a quick list of 12 things that have worked for me and could work for you:
Discipline: Working remotely requires a different mindset from working in the office. When working remotely, it is easy to think about other things like grabbing a snack, running a load of laundry or taking a break to run an errand. It is important to establish a clear work ethic just like you would in the office. I should note that working remotely can be very challenging for many in this respect.
Workspace: Create a dedicated workspace where you go to do work. This will help with discipline and get you into the right frame of mind. This may be a dedicated home office. Or it could be a dedicated space on a table or bar where you are setup to do work. When you are sitting or standing there, you are doing work. Make sure others in your household understand that is your workspace.
Phone: Many rely on their mobile phone as their voice communications device. This may be practical when in the office, but not always in a home environment. In my case, cellular service from all of the major providers is spotty at best. You don’t want remote staff on conference calls where their voice is breaking up or disconnecting. Consider a VoIP solution. I use Ring Central and a Polycom VVX 250 VoIP desk phone hardwired to the network in my home office. As a side note, I have power over ethernet (PoE) in my office. If you don’t, you will either need to get a small PoE switch like the Netgear GS305P PoE switch or a power adapter for the phone.
Video Conferencing: Yes, video conferencing. Not audio conferencing. Video conferencing makes a world of difference in keeping people connected when working remotely. Create a culture where folks can be ‘dialed’ up at a moment’s notice, just like making a call. I use Zoom for all of my video conferencing domestically and internationally. Zoom also integrates with the different tools used to schedule meetings.
Headset: With phone and video conferencing, it is important to have a good wired headset that is comfortable and works well. I do not recommend Bluetooth headsets for a number of reasons. Also, do not rely on speakers built into webcams and computers. The quality is often poor and makes the conversation challenging for the other party. Remember that you are having business conversations, not personal or casual conversations.
You can use different headsets for the computer and desk phone. Or use a single one with a quick disconnect. I use a Plantronics HW540 Encore Pro convertible headset. I use this with a Plantronics U10Pcable that connects to the Polycom desk phone and a Plantronics DA80 audio processor USB cable that connects to the computer.
Webcam: Core to video conferencing is ensuring that you have a good camera. If your computer camera is not good or you are using an external monitor, consider using an external webcam. I use the Logitech 922 Pro HD webcam. Whatever you choose to use, ensure that it supports at least 1080p HD video. And ensure that your video conferencing solution (like Zoom) has the HD option checked.
Collaboration Tools: Your team may already be using a collaboration tool. I happen to use Slack. Using something like Slack or Teams is key to keep folks engaged with each other while working remotely.
Meeting Scheduling: For most folks, they will already have a calendaring solution in place that is part of their enterprise email and calendaring solution. If, however, you are like me and mostly engage with people outside of my organization, you will want a good solution to help with meeting scheduling. This avoids the back and forth of sharing availability to find a suitable time. I started using Calendly which interfaces with both Zoom and my multiple calendars. I setup multiple meeting templates that include time duration and purpose. I simply send the other person a link to the specific Calendly meeting template I want for that meeting (30 minute, 60 minute, etc). Calendly presents the options and sets up the meeting. It also sets up the Zoom meeting details and adds it automatically to my calendar.
External Monitor/ Keyboard/ Mouse: This is more of a personal preference. I know some prefer to simply work on their laptop. Adding an external monitor, keyboard and mouse can add to the feeling of being in the office working. It can also provide an improved interface in both screen real estate, keyboard feel and external mouse.
High-Speed Internet: Today, most homes have some form of high-speed Internet. Make sure that you have solid connectivity and if you need to bump up your plan a little, consider doing so.
Not all of these may apply in your situation. The list is only intended to be a quick checklist of things to consider. Have other suggestions? Feel free to add them to the comments.
Disclaimer: None of the products mentioned in this post were provided by vendors. Nor is this a sponsored post. All products mentioned and used are purchased by AVOA.