How to stay professional while you work from home

Let’s face it, if you’re able to work from home during the COVID-19 crisis and not lose any income, then you are one of the lucky ones. So make sure you’re set up to do it well.

Although many people understand the virus is having a major impact on industry, so there may be some leniency if your routine changes slightly, there’s still no reason why you shouldn’t be able to maintain a high level of professionalism to keep you and your company’s brand intact.

Here’s four things to consider when working from home.

1. Get connected

You really, really need to have a good internet connection. If you haven’t been sent home yet, make it your priority to get this sorted – if you can’t get a good connection, get a good back up, such as a toggle or expand your data plan so you can hotspot from your phone. It’s also a good time to see what else you need to work from home successfully, such as a web-cam, good audio / microphone and headphones.

If you live rurally, do some reconnaissance on where the trouble spots are when it comes to getting optimal reception. Also start to recognise what times of the day aren’t conducive for quality phone calls – perhaps the garbage truck goes by really loudly at a certain time, or things become noisy when your kids or housemates come home.

2. Set up your communication platforms

Ensure you have some sort of way to share files with your colleagues or clients. This might be SharePoint or Google Drive to collaborate on documents in real time, or even Dropbox to store heavy files. While I type, no mandatory ‘working from home’ directives have been made, but I feel it’s a matter of time before ‘non-essential’ workplaces are shut down, so make sure you get set up now so you’re ready to go when our PM says so.

Of course you can talk with your colleagues via phone, but a cloud-based collaborative platform like Microsoft ‘Teams’ or Facebook ‘WorkPlace’ is a great way to share updates without disturbing your colleagues. It also helps to raise moral, particularly if you work with many extraverts who will struggle working from home with no human connection.

Also set up a way to be in touch with your clients which might be Zoom, Skype or other supporting conference call platforms.

3. Design your ‘professional area’

If you don’t already have a home office, set one up and make it your dedicated workplace. This might be a desk in the corner of your loungeroom, the kitchen table or bench. As you set up, make sure you consider ergonomics, ensuring your desk and chair promotes good posture. You may be at home, but you still have to look after yourself!

While we’re on the subject of office set up, ensure you set yourself up for video calls. No matter the type of home you have, from a humble abode to a mansion, you can always make a background look professional. I suggest you keep your background plain to not distract, so make sure you tidy any mess and if your background is a bit questionable (such as in a bedroom), cover it with a plain sheet.

Make sure you look good too. If you generally wear make-up to work, wear make up for your video conferences, as well as wearing business dress.

If you absolutely cannot find a good background, which really should be possible, just do an audio call.

4. Maintain your discipline

Friday afternoon beers might seem closer when you work from home and your pet constantly swirling around your feet might give off a more casual sense, but you still need to have a heightened level of discipline.

Maintain any scheduled meetings, regularly stay in touch with your team and aim to keep to your regular business hours.

Also keep in mind that this time needs everyone to dig a little deeper, so make sure you go the extra mile if you need to, especially if it means supporting colleagues to make their workload a little lighter.

Look after yourself too. Schedule breaks for lunch and get away from your desk from time to time. While it’s good to be across COVID-19 news, particularly if it impacts your work, ensure you don’t tune in too much so you can really concentrate on your work and also your wellness.

At Elevate, it’s business as usual for us. We’ll keep working at our office (keeping a safe distance apart, keeping our hands clean at all times and dividing the team across two separate offices) until we need to move to our home offices, which are ready to go!

If you need any support during this time to stay connected to your network or external community, call us today on 07 3180 3666 for a free non-obligatory quote or simply some advice on how to best communicate to your stakeholders in these volatile times.

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