Working Remote / Productivity

Hi,

As many of us may be in a situation where we need to work remotely, we thought we would send over some of our productivity tips that may help you do so… Teaser… there is some Magic at the end of the post to brighten your day thanks to Ryan Oakes!

Multiple Screens:  These are sooooooo important and monitors are rather affordable. So, see if your boss will pony up the cashish and if not, do it yourself. I am FLUSH with monitors:  3 in the office, 3 at home, 3 at my in-laws and 2 portable ones that I take on the road (coffee shop, presentations, etc.).  Here is what I purchased (I should preface that these are not touchscreen):

Reminder: Double check the cords you would need to purchase based on your computer or docking station.

Also, we don’t make any $$ off of the purchases above and you may be able to find something else that suits you more.  Just offering up suggestions.  In case you are wondering, we do love to make some $$ with our spreadsheet brains of course.

Video Correspondence:  Include some video in your emails (see my example here).

Some perks include:

  • Not having to coordinate call times with 10+ people (in various time zones)
  • Saving the 30-60 minutes it would take to write an email re something technical (where let’s face it, is the user really going to read all of that?) and recording a video in 2-3 minutes (where they are allowed to be a little rough)
  • Showing status and being able to solicit feedback on a project that may not be ready for the recipient to use, but they can certainly see it.

By the way, the application I used to record the example video above is called Loom, which has been very easy to work with from my experience, but there is no shortage of screen recording software out there. Take a look around to see what works best for your type of work. As a special bonus, Loom and Techsmith are currently offering free software to those in the education space in light of the current environment we are in.

Calendar Invites:  You will lose all remote-working credibility if you miss a call.  Do yourself a favor and just put everything in the calendar and send invites to everyone else.

Meetings and Meeting Prep

  • Send more than an agenda around before a meeting (and encourage others to as well… manage up, down and all around). Send results (maybe demos) so people are ready to give feedback.
  • If people come prepared, then you can keep actual meeting time to 15-30 minutes.
  • Join the meeting early so you can make sure your audio and Bluetooth are connected (No matter how many virtual meetings I have, this is a slog every time). Don’t dial in via a landline (though I may be the only person left with one).  You need to be hands free so you can take notes or make it happen!
  • Record the meeting (if it is cool with the other attendees). This way you don’t have to take notes and you can refer back to anything you may have missed).
  • Try and leave 30-60 minutes after each call free (no calls or back-to-back meetings) so you can handle all follow up items before they have escaped you. It can also be really helpful at the end of calls to do a quick 1-2 minute recap of the major items discussed. It helps to keep the conversation fresh in everyone’s mind and most of the time will end up spurring an additional item or two that was skipped over earlier.
  • Finally, I try to close all items on my computer that may distract me during a call and leave only the relevant windows open. It is too tempting…  and trust me, you don’t want to be the person sharing your screen and multi-tasking at the same time (yep… learned that one the hard way!)

Overly Communicate: This may be even more important than multiple screens.

  • People want to know you are there. We always let people know that we received their email or call and we will be back to them with next steps by such and such date if not sooner.
  • If you are having trouble meeting a deadline, just let the team know ASAP and when you think you will likely be able to turn something around (keep in conservative). This happens all the time.  Just don’t hide and speak up!

Finally, while working remotely may have its perks, human interaction is so important. No one loves going to the office as much as yours truly. One of the people I occasionally see in my building is a magician who performs mostly at corporate events. With Zoom meetings and webinars now replacing face-to-face meetings, Ryan can present interactive experiences that can bring some fun to these virtual events. Here’s a trick you can try, and if you’re interested in more: https://alakazoom.net/

And naturally… if your workbooks are feeling a little musty and everyone’s hands have been all over them, you know where to send it.  We will sanitize it (with the hard stuff) and will make it shine bright before you touch your face again.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones,

Jen Portland

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