Working from home tips

Virtual collaboration tips and resources for businesses operating remotely during COVID-19

These are the tips and resources helping the Kwasi team operate effectively while working from home. We’ll add to this list as the situation develops.

Contents:

Creating the ideal WFH setup

As we’ve mentioned in our morale-boosting tips, your WFH setup can make or break your productivity levels. From a virtual collaboration perspective, there are a few things you need:

  • Internet – WiFi or a cable connection
  • A computer – laptop, desktop or tablet
  • A second monitor if necessary
  • A designated workspace – this doesn’t mean you can’t get up and work from other areas, but make sure you have a dedicated space. It is important to put a distinct line between dedicated workspace and dedicated personal space. E.g. Don’t make your dedicated workspace your bedroom as your mind and body are programmed to switch off and relax in this environment.
  • A headset to block out any other noise during phone meetings
  • Good lighting – natural light and/or table lamps (more on this in virtual collaboration tips below)

Because you’re not travelling to work, it’s important to exercise and get fresh air when you can.

  1. Take walks and get exercise safely – even if it’s stretching, rolling out a yoga matt, weird dancing to some music – it’s important on so many levels to keep the blood pumping
  2. Take regular small breaks and get fresh air

Take care of yourself – sleeping and eating correctly and drinking plenty of water plays a huge part in productivity. It’s easy to skip meals or go for the easy option when you are out of a “normal” routine.

However, this is also the perfect opportunity to find your ideal work routine. When are you most productive? Is it at 6am or later in the evening?

Discipline and self-management are paramount to maintaining effective working, particularly when it comes to potential distractions, such as the TV or social media. If you have trouble focusing, use these distractions as an incentive. 90 minutes of work tasks completed = 15 minutes of social surfing as a personal reward.

Essential resources for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic

For the most timely information and guidance on COVID-19 for businesses, please refer to the relevant Australian Government resources; for economic assistance, to understand workplace obligations and for coronavirus information and support. Check out our business survival tips page and make note of the following resources:

  • Use your Google My Business page to update your hours of operation and contact details
  • Use Zoom, Go To Meeting or Google Hangouts for video meetings
  • Use Slack, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger for calls
  • Use the cloud for file sharing, like Google Drive or Dropbox
  • Use your email signature to communicate major changes to business contacts
  • Facebook Messenger, auto-emails or a chatbot service can help you get answers to customers’ FAQs quickly
  • Integrate Calendly into your website (free until June) so customers can book Zoom/Go To Meeting appointments
  • Consider loaning work equipment to your employees to facilitate their working from home
  • Check out Google’s tips and resources for working remotely

Virtual collaboration tips

When your business operations rely on video meetings, it’s important that they run smoothly. Here are some tips you can use straight away.

1. Consider your surroundings

Check the following:

  • Noise – hence why it’s a good idea to have a headset, just in case your neighbour decides to do some noisy DIY. Also, the smaller the room and the more soft furnishings you have in it, the better the audio will be on your call.
  • Background – go for a neutral background behind your head, so there are no distractions for your viewers.
  • Lighting – good lighting will help participants to see your eyes and connect better with what you’re saying.

2. Do an agenda and a practice run

Not only is a rehearsal a good idea from a technical perspective, it also provides valuable practice time with colleagues if you’re going to be presenting to clients.

  • Send out the correct software link and/or login information in advance
  • Suggest that participants join the virtual meeting 5-10 minutes before the start-time in case there are any connectivity issues
  • Circulate the agenda among your colleagues so you can assign roles during the rehearsal

3. Disable potential distractions

Turn off push notifications – on your phone and your laptop, or whatever technology is in the room. They’re incredibly off-putting to you and whoever else is in the meeting.

Avoid the temptation to multitask. Before you know it, you’ll realise you haven’t heard what the speaker has just said – and they’ll have noticed too.

4. Consider your clothing

Bear in mind that “busy” or striped clothing does not transmit well on camera and can be distracting. Scarves and jewellery can also obscure audio.

5. Speak clearly and look at the camera

Speakers must make an effort to enunciate – particularly if they have a strong accent. Do not speak unless it is your turn, as this will obscure the audio. And remember to look at the camera, not the other participants’ faces. The camera is your point of reference, nowhere else. Don’t forget to smile!

For important video conferences or those with a large number of participants, it’s worth considering a facilitator. The facilitator can concentrate on handling technical issues, monitoring/directing questions and ensuring the presentation flows as it should, while the presenter can just think about delivering their message in the most engaging way possible.

Homeschooling resources

Upper Sturt Primary School has put together this helpful list of resources for those of you grappling with the challenges of working from home and homeschooling.

If you have any questions about how we can help you and your business during the pandemic, please reach out. We’re in this together.

 

We want to help.