Working at Home

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Working from home is a new challenge for many of us who went into an office everyday. This is especially true for remote works who are parents, as their children are also at home due to school closures. This page includes some tips and resource to help keep you on track.

A Quiet Space with Strict Working Hours

  • Setup a quiet place where you can get work done
    • Ideally, you want a dedicated room with a door that can be closed.  A closed door will reduce interruptions, and give you a quieter working space that allows you to focus.
    • Consider adding a small whiteboard or sign to the outside of your door so you can signal to family members when it’s not OK to interrupt you.
  • A laptop will give you more flexibility than a desktop computer, as it can be taken to virtually any room in the house.
  • Setup strict working hours.
    • Start on time, and stop on time.
    • When you stop work, don’t go back into your office.  Use your office space for working only.
    • If you have children, setup their day on schedule that parallel’s your own when possible.  Everyone at home is part of the team.

Communication Solutions

With employees working remotely, enabling face-to-face communication keeps work collaborative and engaging. If your employer doesn’t have an established tool for your team, consider selecting one from the list below:

  • Basecamp
  • Discord: “Discord is the easiest way to communicate over voice, video, and text, whether you’re part of a school club, a nightly gaming group, a worldwide art community, or just a handful of friends that want to hang out.”
  • Google
  • Slack
    • Slack offers a free-tier allowing you and your employees to get started with easy-to-use instant messaging and file sharing in minutes.
    • Slack is WTCC’s favorite instant messaging platform!
  • Microsoft Teams: Teams is offered to users of Office 365. This solution is hosted by Microsoft, and easily scales to handle organizations of any size. Teams also offers instant messaging and screen sharing, allowing for remote collaboration.
  • Zoom
    • Zoom allows you to record the conversation, allowing you to send a video to team members who were not able to attend the call.

Project Coordination for Remote Teams

  • Dropbox: “Bring your files and cloud content together with the tools your team wants to use.”
  • Evernote: “Take notes anywhere. Find information faster. Share ideas with anyone. Meeting notes, web pages, projects, to-do lists—with Evernote as your note taking app, nothing falls through the cracks.”
  • “Keep track where and when your team is.”
  • Trello: “Trello lets you work more collaboratively and get more done. Trello’s boards, lists, and cards enable you to organize and prioritize your projects in a fun, flexible, and rewarding way.”
  • “Friday makes it easy to automate routine updates, like daily standups, weekly updates, and whatever else you can think of.”

Remote Desktop Solutions

Video Conferencing 101

Rules of thumb for attending a video conference:

  • Close the door to your office
  • When possible, position your desk and chair so that you are in front of a distraction free background.  A wall, or even a bookshelf works great for this.
  • If using a built-in laptop camera, position your laptop so you don’t need to look down at it.  A laptop stand or even a few books can help with this.
  • Make sure there is plenty of light so others on your team can see you.
  • Use headphones so other speakers don’t hear an echo from their own voice coming back into your laptop’s microphone.  This can be distracting.
  • If you don’t have headphones, make sure your microphone is muted when you aren’t talking.
  • Treat meetings as you would in the office:  Dress professionally, show up on time, and don’t eat in front of the camera.

Tips and tricks if you are hosting a conference:

  • If your are presenting to a very large group, it is helpful to disable the microphone of other attendees to prevent distractions. (Zoom has this feature)
  • As a presenter, often it is helpful to have a secondary helper:
    • Have them keep track of time.
    • If an attendee accidentally turns on their mic and is causing a sound distraction, the helper can message them so they know to turn off their mic.
    • Throughout the discussion, the helper can watch for questions among the attendees.  At the end of the meeting, they can send the top questions to the speaker for answering.  This is a great way to bring the most valuable content to the discussion, while allowing the presenter to focus on presenting as questions come in from the audience.
  • If key team members are not present, record the session and send it to them so they don’t miss what your team discussed.  (recording is supported by Zoom)

VPN Solutions

A VPN provides full connectivity to your business network, allowing remote users to access computers, file servers, printers, security cameras and more. Computers connected to a VPN are indistinguishable from computers physically connected to the network, allowing secure remote access without jeopardizing security.

  • OpenVPN: OpenVPN is an open source VPN system. It can be installed and deployed for free.  (Please see our written guide for instructions on how to set this up.)

Additional Reading

We’ve curated this list of links to some other articles that provide wonderful insight into working at home.  Please check back regularly, as we will be adding more resources as we learn about them.

  • Hackernoon:  A collection of remote work stories
  • Medium: “How to not suck at remote working”
  • Medium: “Remote Work Insights You’ve Never Heard Before”
  • Medium: “Lessons from Remote Working”