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From Setting Up Space to Communication Expectations - 7 Tips on Working Remote

Right now, as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds across the United States, NAED will be providing information to help you and your employees be as productive as possible.

Maybe you’ve been working remote for awhile. Maybe you’re just getting started. Here are a few tips from some NAED employees who have years of experience working remote in their “past lives.”

 

Create a Place and Space

Create a separate space in your home that’s specifically for work. When doing so, “having a second large monitor is very helpful,” says NAED Marketing Operations Manager, Kathy Anderson. “Especially if you work off of two when you’re in the office.”

When it comes to setting up your workspace, placement is important. "Face it out from the wall so that your kids, pets, or spouse cannot sneak up behind you while you are on a video chat or conference call,” says NAED Technology Strategist, Scott Iver. Scott also suggests, working out some kind of plan with them to signal you if needed. “For my kids I have them turn on the hall light if they need something. They know that I will come running as soon as I can.”

 

Boundaries are Good

NAED Member Engagement Manager Colin Dowd, advises establishing a routine when you work remote.

"It’s easy to be distracted by all the things that need to be done like endless laundry," says Colin. But establishing solid routines about when you’ll start and end work helps you maintain focus and ensure the day doesn’t get away from you.

As you settle into a routine, most people that work from home start to work more than what their employer asks of them. “Be mindful,” says Jon Tarleton, Marketing Strategist for NAED. “Unless you are making up hours that you lost during the day because of something non-work related. When you would have typically stopped working in the office, do the same at home!”

With your work now so close to where you relax it is harder to separate the two.

“Having a clear mental or even physical separation can help you be more productive while you are working, and relax and be present with your family or free time,” Jon explains.

 

Anticipate When You Communicate

In addition, Jon warns that for people working remote, e-mail dramatically increases. “Gone are those walk-in discussions, so email volume is going to increase,” he says. “To combat this, if you are a manager of others, schedule more short calls. Possibly even daily, to just run through things that would have been “walk-ins.” 

In addition to conference calls and e-mail, your company likely has an online chat function like Skype. “Use it as much as possible, but remember to tell everyone to still use email when sending information you need to save,” says Jon. "This is because most people do not save their chat logs. And when you close the chat window the information you need is gone!"

 

Slow Your Roll

“If you’re not included on a meeting, don’t panic,” says Jon. “I found that in time they come to you when they need you.” Instead, focus on those projects that need your care.

 

Stay in the Zone

Chat functions typically offer status notifications. So if you need to concentrate make sure to change your status to Do Not Disturb. "People in your company will not know when you are in deep thought or in the middle of a giant project, so close email and put chat on Do Not Disturb when you are busy," says Jon.

 

Mute in Case of Mayhem

And when it comes to those scheduled meetings, Scott advises that the MUTE button on your phone or computer, is your absolute best friend. 

“You should train yourself to ALWAYS have mute activated so that no background noises can be heard,” says Scott. “Of course this means you also must keep fully aware of the conversation and activate your microphone before speaking. If you forget your microphone do not unmute and say, ‘sorry I was on mute’. Just re-state what you said while you were on mute so that you keep the meeting moving forward.”

 

Drop Out, Don't Disrupt

And if your phone line or internet connection starts having issues?

“Don’t be afraid to drop out of a meeting and notify another attendee that you’re experiencing problems, says Scott. “Many meetings have been disrupted while someone tried to sort out noise issues with a phone instead of dropping off the meeting so others could continue.”

At some point, the COVID-19 virus will run its course. Don’t forget that life will return to normal. There will come a time when we return to working outside the office – be it a library, airplane, coffee shop.

In that case, “Be aware of how you are accessing the internet,” says Scott. “Public Wi-fi might be free but the security of your documents are at risk. You increase the chance of getting hacked."

Consider using your own or company provided hotspot. If you don't have a hotspot, then choose projects that don't need internet. If you don’t have your own or company provided hotspot Wi-fi, then consider only working on projects that don’t require internet access when in public workspaces.                

 

Stay in the Know, on the go

Right now, since many people are home, NAED is offering resources for managing effective virtual teams in the NAED Learning Center as part of our FREE Business Continuity education bundle.

Having a connected business has never been more important than it is today. Read more about our Building a Connected Business plan. Download the Executive Summary or read this blog post to learn how the plan can help set your business up for success into this decade.    

Do you have any tips on working remote? Please share them in the comments section. 

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NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTORS

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