Whether working from home is just a part of the daily routine or an entirely new concept, there is no denying that remote work is hard. While there are obvious benefits like avoiding the early morning commute and having more time and flexibility, working from home poses its own specific set of challenges. From dealing with ill-timed patchy wifi connections, to trying to maintain engagement and focus on your tasks, it takes time as well as trial and error to become successful at working remotely.
While the majority of us at Yulio have had prior experience with working remotely, this unique period of time has given us the opportunity to refine our skills and to identify some practical steps that are most effective for us. You’d be surprised at how small changes in the way we work can actually set us up for success in the future. So with that in mind, we’ve compiled our top 5 tips and ideas from our own personal experience that has helped us maintain productivity and to make working in a new environment as barrier-free as possible.
1. Wifi Connection
When working from home, your wifi connection can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. Having a fast-working Internet with zero buffers or lag time can help you maintain momentum when accomplishing your tasks and meeting your deadlines. However, a slow, weak, inconsistent connection can not only be incredibly frustrating but this disruption can also affect how you communicate with your team or even your clients. We’ve all sat through video conferences where someone is trying to present an idea or provide some feedback but everyone is only catching every 4th or 5th word. While you can do your best to power through and fill in the blanks or end the call and follow up via email, cutting a meeting prematurely can close the door for greater discussion and collaboration.
To combat this point of friction, you will need to consider how many people are using your network at the same time as well as the proximity from your area to your router. While there are countless variables that could affect the performance of your wifi connection, these two considerations can be easily and more immediately changed.
Your wifi works by executing individual tasks one at a time. So depending on how many devices are connected as well as the computing power required to execute that task can affect your wifi connection. Tasks like rendering images require a lot of computing power for long periods of time, which will affect the performance of other devices connected to the same wifi. Plus, it’s also important to take note of your area and the proximity to your router. The farther your area is from the router, the slower your Internet connection will be.
Extra Tip: Make sure to close all unnecessary applications and tabs before an important meeting. We like to practice this step since it can help with your wifi connection as well as ensure there are no distracting notification bells ringing during the meeting.
2. Establish Your Work From Home Area
Video conferencing is one tool that most remote working teams like to take advantage of. Not only does it provide an extra layer of accountability and motivates everyone to stay focused, but it allows you to read the room better. Reading facial expressions can lessen the likelihood of interrupting each other as well as give clues on how to proceed with the meeting. If video conferencing is a common practice within your team or with reaching out to clients, there are a few important factors to consider when deciding where your new “office” will be.
To start, consider where you’re setting up your new work from home station. Depending on who’s home, perhaps choosing a communal area like a living room or the kitchen may not be the best option. Having people move to and fro in the background can be distracting and detract attention from what you have to say. Just like this viral video of Professor Robert Kelly’s daughters making a cameo appearance, while everyone understands these happenings and will get a good laugh out of it, the focus is no longer on what you are presenting but rather the new stimulus.
Before any important meetings, one step to consider is to test the direction of where your web camera is facing. Especially when talking with clients, you want to ensure that your appearance and background maintain a degree of professionalism to help set the tone of your meeting. So perhaps 15 minutes before your call, you can ask to quickly video conference with one of your colleagues or open a camera application to double-check that everything is good to go.
3. Learn Something New
Whether it’s because you’re no longer sitting in rush hour traffic or it’s just been a slow day, perhaps you’re finding yourself having a bit more spare time. Although it’s fair to take a break every couple of hours, it’s important to maintain your momentum of productivity. Instead of falling into the temptation of watching TV or debating that midday nap, utilize all your time effectively by learning something new.
Nowadays, there is an endless list of platforms to choose from to learn any subject that piques your interest. Perhaps you’re a designer looking for new ways on how to hone your skills to make your designs look more photorealistic. Or maybe you’re a salesperson wanting to learn about modern sales tactics that can help you adapt to an ever-changing market.
The good news is that chances are, there is already a lesson or webinar that will cater to what you’re wanting to learn more of. Not only will it help you pass the time much more quickly, but the lessons hosted by other leading industry professionals could shed some insight that you and your team never thought of previously. Ultimately, pushing forward and maintaining your productivity could present a fantastic opportunity for you and your team to revisit and optimize some of your workflows for greater efficiency. The reality is that slow days may not come very often, especially in our ever-increasing fast-paced world. So it’s important to take advantage of the time you have to enhance your professional repertoire.
4. Explore New Technologies
In today’s modern working world, almost every business in every industry relies on some form of technology. Whether it be a cloud-hosted shared drive or machines for manufacturing products, Enterprise in the 21st century has become heavily dependent on technology. And as developers continue to make revolutionary strides in improving and creating better technologies, there will be more online platforms to choose from that can help support you when working from home.
The greatest benefit of researching and possibly investing in the latest technologies is that it can transform your individual workflow and enhance your current processes. Whether it be providing a medium for quick and easy collaboration, creating eye-catching pieces of media to be shared on social channels, or a new way of conducting meetings, choosing advanced technologies can help you take it one step further.
A few tips when evaluating whether the online platform is a good fit for your workflows is whether their online platform gives you a lot of flexibility. Whether it be if their platform is online and mobile or their list of available features, look for a platform that provides a solid foundation for you and your team to use it in a way that will benefit you all the best. Another tip when exploring new technologies is if there are constant updates or brand new features added to their platform. A tool that is constantly getting better and improving is a great sign that the business listens and adapts to what their users are looking for.
5. Communicate and Collaborate
For those where working from home is a completely new and foreign concept, we can understand how the shift can be challenging. When working remotely, it will be more important than ever before to effectively communicate and collaborate. It will be harder knowing what everyone is up to since you’re physically away from your team, however, it’s still valuable in keeping up to date with what projects people are working on.
One practice that we have implemented for as long as we can remember are weekly 1-on-1 check-ins with our supervisor and weekly team meetings. While we used this format when working in the office, we found it pretty simple and very useful in replicating it when working from home. Do feel free to evolve this in the way that will be most beneficial to both your colleagues and even your supervisors. Instead of checking in twice a week, perhaps it’s more valuable to do daily roundups of all the tasks that were accomplished on the given day. In any case, the main goal is to communicate well and communicate often with your team members.
One tip that we would like to share is to not be afraid to ask your fellow colleagues or supervisor if they’re free for a quick chat when running into challenges. If you’re unsure whether they’re online, it may also be valuable to clarify everyone’s remote work hours to see if it has changed from their normal schedule. It’s normal to run into roadblocks, especially when you have no one in front of you to bounce ideas with. So instead of spending the next half an hour to an hour plus trying to come up with ideas or solutions, use the next 15-minutes to collaborate and find solutions with your team.
Working From Home - A Challenge and an Opportunity
While it has its own long list of benefits, there’s no getting around how difficult remote work is. From ironing out technical difficulties to adapting to a completely new work environment, there are a lot of variables to consider in order to be successful at working remotely. Hopefully, these practical pieces of advice, as well as ideas to consider, have given you some inspiration on how you can seamlessly transition into working from home. And with all the tips we have shared from our own personal experience, we hope it will help you be able to transform these challenges into a great opportunity.
Interested in learning more about the business applications of VR? Hosted by Yulio’s CPO, Ian Hall, our quick and simple 5-day email course will cover all the basics of applying and integrating VR into your workflow - you can register here. For more information on whether VR is the right fit for your business, check out our Whitepaper on Evaluating VR for your Business.