In today’s challenging environment with more and more sent home to work, it’s imperative to know how to work virtually. When you haven’t done it previously, it can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
These tips should help.
Best Tips for Working Virtually:
- Have a clear plan of attack – There are so many things that need done (i.e., setting up your office, internet, etc.) and the list goes on. Start a to-do list and prioritize. Realize that not everything has to be done immediately. By prioritizing your list, it feels more doable. And who doesn’t like to cross off those to do’s!
- Get Supplies Pronto – With so many heading out to get supplies, you are going to see things sold out. You want to stock up on business suppliers such as paper, ink, etc., soon. While doing so, grab extras so you don’t run out when they are gone. Because seriously, you never want to run out of ink … EVER! Trust me on that one. Plus, get some fun things too. You get to decorate your new office at home, so let your personality shine though. Just remember that you might be on Skype and doing video calls. Make it fun, but professional. Also, keep all receipts. Many companies are paying for supplies and you want to have proof of your purchases.
- Your Internet is crucial – You are more than likely going to need to connect with others in your company remotely so getting your internet set up is crucial. If your company provides tech support utilize it. Just write out all your questions in advance so you utilize their time in the best way possible. Believe it or not, tech guys really don’t like the 25 calls when 2 would suffice. Don’t be that person!
- Test your equipment and work through those nasty bugs that can happen – Those who have worked from home for years know that things happen and how you deal with it is what can save you. So work through those in the early stages. Also, again you want to prioritize. Figure out what is happening in the next few days that needs your immediate attention. Work on those first. Keep in mind, speed is important. Your computer from a decade ago might not cut it today so if you have to, get a new one.
- Back up all work – Your company more than likely had back-ups already in place. But now that you are home it’s imperative that you set this up immediately. A flash drive, cloud storage such as Dropbox, and also Carbonite are good recommendations. Just as important as backing up your system, also make sure you know how to restore it if something happens. So figure that important step out as well. Darn, one more thing to add to your to do list.
- Skype, Zoom, FreeConference Pro, etc., will be your best friends – These allow you to have audio and video conferences. Look into them pronto.
- Set up your webcam – Invest in a good one too. More importantly though check it out and see how you look. When it’s too close all you can see is your face close up, which means every winkle will show. Not a good look. Also review your background. Anything that is in view should be cleaned up. Now is not the time to see your old Diet Cokes sitting around that you haven’t thrown away. I mean who does that? (Guilty as charged!)
- Discuss your situation with your family and friends – Be firm on the fact that you’re working and just because you are home, you can’t talk for hours or watch their kids because you are home and they still need to be at the office. Interruptions can lead to work that is not your best, so plan accordingly.
- Set up a dedicated area – If you can convert a room or a part of a room to an office that is the best scenario. Find a place where the interruptions are less frequent and also away from barking dogs and other distractions. Being able to shut a door for the office is great too.
- Have Activities For Your Children Ahead of Time – Bored kids are no fun! You might be working hard, but they are all the sudden out of school and left with little to do. Plan ahead and have fun things for them to do. All those coloring books and toys they got for the holidays might just come in handy now. Of course, plan age-appropriate activities and know that a little TV now isn’t so bad. They are probably stressed as well with the recent news.
- When on important virtual calls or conferences, be sure to turn off any distractions – If you are on Skype, turn your phone off so you can’t hear voice mails. Log out of email programs such as Outlook so all your email notifications don’t appear if you have it set up that way. You don’t want everyone at your company to see the email coming from Aunt Grace.
- Write down all your passwords – I’ll leave it at that. You’ll thank me later for that one!
- Set down clear guidelines on how you will be communicating – Decide what works best for you and your company in keeping in touch? Phone, email, virtual conferences, etc. Plan this in the beginning and work out solutions that make sense. Also, be brief in corresponding. If it can be done in an email, do it. No one has time for long drawn-out meetings, even virtually. Also, no one has time to read a novel in an email. Get to the point quickly.
- Stay Focused – Work on one thing at a time and really proofread and watch your work. Mistakes can happen because of the stress of the situation. By slowing down and really focusing you can avoid most of them. Also, be good to yourself. Buy your favorite coffee or goodie to make yourself feel good. Remember to breath and take breaks getting up and walking around. You’ll be amazed how good that feels.
The most important thing to do is take it slowly and try and remain calm. Contact a friend or associate and chat. Reach out and say hi. Turn off the news. Now I’m not saying don’t listen to the news, just avoid the 24/7 news cycle as that can be overwhelming. And finally, know that this too shall pass. We all will get through this and the other side will be spectacular.
Diana Ennen, President of Virtual Word Publishing, https://virtualwordpublishing.com offers PR and Marketing services, book marketing services, virtual assisting services, and PR and Virtual Assistant Coaching. She is also co-author of Virtual Assistant the Series: Become a Highly Successful Sought After VA. She has been featured in USA Weekly, Forbes, Inc. Radio, Fox News, Women’s World, USA Today, CNN, Wall Street Journal, and many more. She also has many valuable resources such as her PR Success Webinar Series – https://virtualwordpublishing.com/coaching-and-classes/pr-success-series/