Tips for Working Remotely Amid COVID-19

Alex Downey | March 13, 2020

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With the recent spread of COVID-19, many workplaces are encouraging workers to work remotely if possible, to avoid the spread of the virus. Here are some tips to help if this is impacting you:

  • If you had plans to visit customers or others and have now cancelled an onsite visit, you may be able to replace your visit with a phone call or video conferencing meeting. Make sure you test this out with a co-worker or friend first to avoid starting the call with having to ask several times, “Can you hear me now?”, or find if you have a habit like heavy breathing that is distracting.
  • Phones have stuck around because they work! Just because you must cancel a visit with a client should not mean that you should not check in with them if you had planned to. Email or call them to stay in touch.
  • There are many great software options for sharing your screen and showing what you are working on. If you have other software set to show notifications on your desktop normally, consider disabling those so they are not in the way, or so the customer or vendor you are sharing your screen with is not seeing the subject line of every confidential email you are receiving as they come in.
  • Some people may still want face to face meetings; always make sure your home office background is neat and tidy if there is a chance of video conferencing.
  • If you are not using it already, the service you use for your work email likely already offers software for instant messaging coworkers, and video conferencing. Many free options have a limited number of attendees per meeting, so check these settings before trying to use it for a department or company wide meeting.
  • Have an external microphone to use with headphones for calls. The one on your laptop will likely pick up too much background noise. As well, if you are not used to working from home, headphones can help block out noises you are not used to that may be a distraction.
  • If you are on a call with several people, and will not be talking for a while, mute yourself to avoid contributing to background noise.
  • If others you live with are also now working from home (or their school/daycare has been closed for the time being) make sure it is clear where is your work area, you have a door to close to separate you if you are on a call, and make sure they know when you are working so they can avoid disturbing you during working hours.
  • If your company uses a cloud based print MIS system like Avanti Slingshot many workers, such as estimators, CSR’s, project managers, schedulers, and purchasers can access the system and information on upcoming jobs, inventory requirements, schedules, past quote information and more remotely, regardless of if they brought their work laptop home. If your instance is installed on a server on premise and has blocked traffic from outside the building, you may want to speak to your IT team on if they could set up a VPN for you to access this remotely until it is safe to return to the office.