Goodbye daily commute, hello home office. But don’t get overly cozy; the COVID quarantine could be your opportunity to shine—IF you know how to take advantage of home working conditions.
While the #LifeGoesOnline transition may seem easily navigable, not all of the roughly 53 percent of new home-based workers will adjust easily. Without a physical office presence, workers can easily fade into the background, become demotivated, and lose status at work.
So rather than turning your home office into an oubliette of obscurity, turn it into a springboard of success with these tips:
Tip #1: Become MORE Visible, Not Less
Like a tree falling in the forest, your activity can only be assumed to exist if someone observes it. Remember: managers are flying blind during this period, relying mostly on good faith to make sure workers are being productive.
As such, establishing trust is crucial, and this entails A LOT of communication. Create transparency by emailing or messaging project leaders more often to let them know what you’re doing and when you’re finished. Also, during video conferences, make a greater effort to chime in, even if it’s just with simple affirmative “uh-huhs.”
Also, now’s the time to step up your social networking game on platforms like LinkedIn. Social media activity has spiked since the COVID-19 outbreak and it’s easier than ever to start new conversations, share content, or chime in on existing threads.
Tip #2: Do A Quick Home-Tech Audit
Likely, your home office isn’t built for business. While it’s generally the employer’s responsibility to handle the IT stuff, there are a few measures you can take to avoid any embarrassing tech-related SNAFUs and show your company that you’re competent at working remotely.
Mind Your Bandwidth Limitations
Video conferencing can be a bandwidth bottleneck, especially when the whole family is at home streaming. If you’ve got a low connection of 30 Mbps or less and multiple people home, your might experience some unreliability.Thankfully, many telecoms are lifting their data caps, in part due to pressure from the FCC. Hopefully, the caps will stay gone.
Be Gentle with the VPN
All the bandwidth in the world won’t matter if you’re working on an overloaded VPN. If you’re a remote worker using a private network, try not to linger on the VPN if you don’t have to. Limit your consumption of streaming services like YouTube and other bandwidth-hungry applications and be patient with any restrictions of such applications that have been placed.
Don’t Fall For Any Cybersecurity Traps
The last thing your business needs is a security incident. Unfortunately, hackers always exploit fear and unrest, and COVID-related phishing reports are already flooding in. Here are some reported phishing attempts related to COVID, according to a recent report by ZDNet:
- Any emails seemingly from the WHO or other prominent health organizations. Phishing attempts have been reported from seemingly trustworthy sources offering new authoritative advice about COVID in an attached pdf or another file. The attachment includes a Trojan virus that reportedly targets banking information.
- Emails from contractors and partners with shady attachments masquerading as updates about COVID, business interruptions, and other such notices.
- Anything asking for COVID-related advice, contributions or personal information. Remember the golden rule of phishing: go with your gut. If it seems fishy, it’s probably a scam.
Tip #3: Avoid Pajama-Induced Lethargy
Out of bed for 7:55, in the office for 8; does this sound like your quarantine dream routine? Unfortunately, ditching your morning shower/shave/jog/dress rituals may have more of an impact on your motivation than you think.
No one’s saying you need to maintain the business casual dress, but there are few routines you do want to keep intact, especially your schedule. A home office means that not only can life creep into your workday, but also vice versa, with projects dragging into night hours. Try to keep your work contained in the 8-5 hours if that’s your norm.
Also, plan out transitions between work; don’t just roll out of bed into your desk chair. For instance, you might wake up early and go for a jog during what used to be your commute time. Or you might go out for a drive during lunch rather than just sitting home all day. Doing these activities helps your brain to re-adjust and stay fresh and focused.
Rocking From Home
The quarantine is temporary, but your impact during this time will be remembered. Unfortunately, distributed work isn’t just as easy as opening a laptop from a couch, there are interpersonal, technological, and even psychological factors all at play here.
Now’s your time to shine. Speak up in online meetings, make sure your home tech is up to par, and keep a structured workday. That way, when things get back to normal, your trustworthiness will be better established.
When threats lurk outside, #LifeGoesOnline. See the rest of our series aimed at helping YOU succeed in distributed work at our blog. Share your tips for working during COVID-19 on Twitter with the #LifeGoesOnline hashtag.