It’s time once again for some friendly pointers from Miss Telework Manners. In this installment, I offer solutions to two additional challenges you may be facing as you continue to navigate the unexpected transition to full-time telework. Happy reading!
An Equipment and Technology Checklist for Successful Teleworking
Dear Miss Telework Manners: Now that it is clear that I will be teleworking for the long-haul, I am working on setting up a more permanent home office. Early on, it was a corner of my dining room table, but I have since purchased a desk. What are the equipment and technology must-haves that will help me be successful working from home?
-- Trying to Be on Top of My Telework Game
Buying a desk was a good start. Who wants to have to move their laptop and work papers to have dinner every night? For long-term telework, having a desk that you put in a quiet area of your home is best (bonus points if you can put the desk in a room with a door to eliminate distractions during the work day). Here are some other equipment and technology must-haves that have helped me immensely during my many years of telework:
- Laptop with a good webcam or a separate webcam – Unless you want to be “frozen” on a videoconference with an unflattering facial expression.
- Wireless Keyboard and Mouse – This is a personal preference. Some people are fine with using the keyboard and mouse on their laptop, but I work more efficiently on my external keyboard and mouse and I know many others who find that setup more efficient and comfortable.
- A well-functioning wireless headset and microphone – Unless you want to be the person always saying, “Can you repeat that?” or hearing it later from your coworkers.
- Large flat-screen monitor – As with the external keyboard and mouse, this is also a personal preference but when I am working with large amounts of data or lengthy documents, nothing makes my life easier than my large monitor.
- Printer/scanner/copier – In our increasingly paperless world, this is not as necessary but there are still times when having a hard copy of a document or being able to convert a paper file to an electronic copy is helpful.
- File storage – Even with less paper these days, it is nice to have dedicated file storage space and as a bonus, it’s a great way to keep your home workspace organized.
- Surge-protecting power strip – Power surges in home offices are more likely than in a modern office location.
Technology – Your company likely already has implemented apps to support you and your co-workers, including instant messaging, videoconferencing, time tracking, performance reviews and manager feedback, file sharing, etc. Here are some additional suggestions that I find increase my personal productivity:
- Reliable internet connection – This is the holy grail of telework. When your internet is not working properly, nothing is working properly as far as I am concerned.
- Personal task list – I like having somewhere to look so I always know what work I have ahead of me and when it’s due.
- A highly organized file directory on your laptop –I always keep the file directory on my laptop organized. That way, if I need to reference a file or if one of my coworkers requests it, I know just where to go to find it quickly.
Those are the basics, according to someone who has teleworked for more years than I want to count (at least out loud). Good luck to you and stay well!
Policies for Teleworkers
Dear Miss Telework Manners: Like many others, my company has made the decision to continue mandatory telework due to the coronavirus pandemic. I am in management and I want to be sure that we have all the necessary policies in place for a successful telework environment. (Also, between you and me, maybe if we are successful at teleworking, we can continue it, even on a partial basis, after all of this has ended.) What are your suggestions?
-- Searching for a Telework Blueprint
This is a great question. There are several additional policies that companies need to have in place to ensure telework success. Here are the big ones:
- Core work hours
- If employees will be away during core work hours for any reason, a policy for how to notify others
- Appropriate use of different modes of communication (e.g., e-mail, instant message, phone call)
- The use of dedicated work equipment (i.e., what employees are or are not permitted to use for personal business)
- How reimbursable home office expenses are handled
- The storage and disposal of paper and electronic documents
- How to handle interruptions from others in the home, including children, spouses, or roommates.
These are the main policies that I find most helpful for telework employees! In addition, I have some good news for you. I think that even after all of this passes, teleworking will become the new normal for many organizations. Good luck to you!
I hope you have found this week’s tips both helpful and enjoyable. Here’s wishing everyone a productive and healthy telework environment! And, for goodness’ sake, wash your hands and stop touching your face! Be well, everyone!