Having to work virtually can be challenging for many who have not done it in the past. For those who need help, I put together some of the things that have worked for me. Whether it was in pharmaceuticals, real estate, education, or in media production, I have worked virtually for more than 30 years. That experience has taught me some valuable lessons that I would like to share here.
- Communicating Virtually – One of the best products for communicating virtually is Zoom. Zoom, like Skype and other similar programs, allow people to see each other. The most significant advantage I found with Zoom is the ease of use. At a time when everything seems overwhelming, ease of use can be a big factor for the choice of program with which to communicate. I also think they offer excellent customer support. When you invite someone to chat with Zoom, they do not need to have an account, which also makes it quick for them to get on the call.
- Time Management – When working in an office, it can be easier to know when things should be accomplished. When working virtually, it can be up to you to set your schedule. Whether you use Outlook, Google Calendar, or something else, it is critical to schedule your day. It can get too easy to start doing laundry or other household chores when you are home. By scheduling your day, you have a far better chance of completing tasks. Prioritize tasks, and be sure to put the things you really must do on your calendar when you are most alert. For me, I schedule those things first thing in the morning to get the hard stuff done while I am at my best functioning time.
- Interruptions – Many people must work in homes with their children or other family members. This is an unprecedented time, and it is essential to have clear communication with each other about how to work with as little disturbance as possible. Explaining why this is critical can be helpful. Finding things to help others keep busy can allow you to stay busy.
- Social Groups – Because you will not have your regular social interaction, it can help to join like-minded social groups. I am a member of a lot of different Facebook and LinkedIn groups where people share their ideas about what works for them. If you cannot find a group that meets your needs, you might consider starting your own and inviting people who do similar jobs to join you.
- Collaboration – Working on teams can be different without having people right next to you to ask questions. There are great ways to share documents and work on teams. Some companies use Slack or share information using Google Docs. This can allow communication to be instantly updated and not require the back and forth of email.
Consider the perks of working at home. There is less time dedicated to getting dressed and ready for office life. The commute is gone. If you work best at 4 am or 10 pm, you can adjust your schedule to meet your needs. By working virtually, you are available for family issues when necessary, and with fewer distractions from office situations, you can potentially get more accomplished.