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Tips for Success for Continued Telework

by Mary Talley / July 22, 2020

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

Dear Trying:

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:

 Equipment

  • 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

Dear Searching:

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:

  1. Core work hours
  2. If employees will be away during core work hours for any reason, a policy for how to notify others
  3. Appropriate use of different modes of communication (e.g., e-mail, instant message, phone call)
  4. The use of dedicated work equipment (i.e., what employees are or are not permitted to use for personal business)
  5. How reimbursable home office expenses are handled
  6. The storage and disposal of paper and electronic documents
  7. 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!

_______________________________________________________

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Mary Talley

Mary Talley

Mary has a master’s degree in public administration and has worked as a facility planning analyst for Fentress since 2003. In her free time, she enjoys baking, decorating, and spending time with her family.