COVID-19 Strategies: 5 Ways to Set Up a Successful Work-from-Home Environment
Dog barking. Spouse asking about dinner. Kids running around. Blender whirring. Doorbell ringing. Cat walking across keyboard. TV playing.
While more companies have moved to some type of remote working over the past 10 years and the set-up has its benefits, the threat of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has pushed this concept forward in the U.S. from a “nice to have” to a “required necessity.” As employees are facing the prospect of remote working at home for the first time (often with kids off from school as well), there are several components that need to be considered for setting up a successful work-from-home environment.
1.) Workspace – You must first dedicate a workspace in your home where you are free to collaborate with other remote colleagues without interruption; free of distractions for you, but also free of distractions for your colleagues. Choose a space away from the front door and main living areas, preferably with a door that can be closed so that sounds from a lively household, such as the kids or the dog, do not interrupt the flow of your virtual discussions to the extent you can minimize them. However, everyone will understand the noise in the background given that this is such an unusual situation. Also, when you set up your desk, ensure that any personal spaces or personal effects that you want to remain private will not be in view of a webcam during virtual meetings.
2.) Others Working from Home – Think about others who will be also working in the home environment. A spouse / partner, kids home from college, and even kids in elementary through high school may all be competing for an ideal space to work in your home. Designate appropriate spaces for everyone and set ground rules and expectations for your accessibility during working hours. A great tool to help you manage expectations is a physical sign: a “do not disturb” sign, note on your door, or even a red light can be used to signal to others that you are busy and not to be interrupted.
3.) Tools – Work with your employer to ensure you have the required physical tools to do your job and be successful in this new environment: laptop, mobile phone, headset, tablet, printer with paper and ink, pens, pencils, and paper. Whatever tools are necessary to perform your job. Also, ensure that you have access to and understand any collaboration software, such as Skype, Teams, Zoom, and WebEx as these will be the link to your colleagues in the virtual world. You may want to also invest in a pair of noise cancelling headphones to facilitate concentration if you are used to working in a quiet environment.
4.) Technology – Ensure your home internet’s bandwidth is sufficient to handle not only your needs, but the needs of anyone else working or taking online classes in your household. What was previously adequate may not be enough under this new load. According to tomsguide.com, a heavy-using family of four with simultaneously streaming laptops as well as connected smartphones, tablets, and typical household smart devices will require approximately 100 - 125 Mbs speeds.
5.) File Sharing – Important documents should be uploaded to the cloud either using MS OneDrive, Teams, Dropbox, or other cloud-based technologies where they can be accessed and viewed by any authorized team member. This will facilitate collaboration and reduce the interruptions to stop and send required documents to your colleagues. This is a great time saver, whether you are on site or working from home!
The COVID-19 pandemic will change our normal routines and workdays in many ways, and the repercussions of these on the home working environment won’t truly be known until it slows down. Fortunately, with the tools available today and with a little planning, many workers can follow the guidance of governmental and health authorities and productively perform their jobs from home.
Bill is a Principal Consultant leading Aspirant's Mergers & Acquisitions practice. He is an energetic leader and seasoned executive with a demonstrated track record of delivering results in technical, commercial, financial, and general management roles. Most recently, he was the President and Chief Operating Officer of a 160-employee medical device company and led the private equity carveout of this organization from a fortune 100 healthcare company into a standalone independent entity. Bill has worked on commercial strategy, global marketing, and M&A initiatives with Fortune 100 companies to startups in a range of industries.