A year ago, there was a sudden “shock” to the world that caused mass disruption in people’s normal routines, forcing an uncomfortable behavioral change for most. This pandemic-induced shift to an isolated work-from-home (WFH) routine should become a shibboleth once vaccines flow freely. But perhaps it wont. Over the course of the last year, we’ve all acclimated to our new routines, comfy chairs, lounging in between “meetings”, kids-play at odd hours of the day, work-from-anywhere with a hot-spot connection… not too bad (assuming your profession or business was not too negatively impacted). This acclimation may be the reason why the way we work may have genuinely been transformed — permanently and in ways we’re just beginning to understand. To shift “back” to office parks, we’ll need an equally dramatic and “opposite shock” (i.e. an over-abundance of COVID babies disrupting home workspace, or who knows what.)
Many companies that are lucky enough to have office lease renewals approaching are surely debating whether they will be able to not offer the option for some to work from home “forever”, as some prominent companies have already done.
So the bad news is it’s going to be hard to find a way to wear any of the nice clothes you bought in 2019. However, we at Tech Essentials have some tips that may make things a bit easier on you now that we may be entering an era of quasi-permanent remote work… Enter the Era of Optimizing. (Read our recent blog for more on this). Here are some fun tech-inspired work tips for our current situations:
Problem: When you had an office, you could actually close your door so that people would leave you alone to focus. Now your teammates are DMing (messaging you) whenever they like, as they may have no idea that you’re busy. And, they are impatient — expecting to immediately see some dots appear indicating you are replying in real time. And some take offense if you are not quick enough to reply.
TIP: Obviously, you should set your status to ‘busy’ on Teams (or any app you use) and remember to set it back to ‘available’ when ready, but the key is getting your organization to actually look at and respect these statuses. Tell them that the ‘red light’ [on Teams] is the new ‘closed office door’. And, even if you know the answer and can instantly reply, wait…so as not to set the expectation that you are always available on demand (or that you have too much free time).
Problem: All work; no play (or at least no more chit-chat about sports, movies etc.). Remote work has effectively ended those water-cooler chats we used to have about non-work subjects, which was a camaraderie-building distraction from the daily grind. What now?
TIP: Set the expectation that virtual meeting rooms will open 5 minutes early and close 5 minutes after the meeting ends for those who want to socialize. Managers should actively encourage this as important for company morale and team building. After all, this used to happen when meetings were in conference rooms. But remember that everyone secretly likes meetings to start on time, so elegantly cut the banter off precisely at the scheduled meeting start and end time.
BONUS TIP: Meetings with videos and multiple parties should also be shorter than the ‘old’ way of having hour-long conference room sessions. Meetings that were 60 minutes should now be 30 minutes; 30-minute meetings should now be 20 minutes. Attention spans are shorter, and video conferences have now been shown to be more mentally taxing than in-person meetings.
Problem: Taking notes with pen and paper during ‘real’ meetings used to make you look engaged and give others the confidence that what they were saying would be ‘noted’, remembered, and acted upon. Now, people see you typing on a video call and assume you’re DMing your spouse about who’s going to cook dinner later that night.
TIP: One solution is to announce that you are taking notes, before you start taking those notes, which turns your act of typing into a positive, instilling old school confidence that important points that are discussed have action items memorialized. Even better, encourage old fashioned paper/pen note taking during video calls. It looks better for the note-taker, and it sounds better for everyone else, as there’s less typing noise (people rarely remember to mute when typing notes).
Problem: I am using technology more — to e-sign for remote business needs and to encrypt email for inter-office communications. I need a better way — one that is elegantly easy to use plus more affordable when used a lot.
TIP: Download RMail and RSign! (What else did you think I was going to say?) Our RMail for Outlook and Gmail, RSign e-signature web apps, connectors and API make it easy to automate or extend your business systems with seamless, feature-rich, and more affordable e-sign and e-security tools . Our features provide the best user experience. Our prices make us the most affordable. And, our services connect elegantly inside your existing email programs and business systems.