How To Make Work From Home Work For You
“I work from home but I’m not very productive.
“What are my main issues as I work from home?”
“How can I address these issues and be more productive?”
Create a routine
Set ground rules – for yourself and for others
Ask for help
The Coronavirus crisis has millions of people all over the world working from home. This new way of working offers many advantages. One is the convenience of working from a familiar, comfortable environment. Another is the huge amount of time you can save. This is a big advantage for office workers who otherwise commute a long way to and from work every day.
Nonetheless, for those who are new to working remotely, the model can be somewhat challenging. A lot of people struggle to balance their professional and personal responsibilities when the locations of both work and play are the same. “I don’t feel like working. I’d rather snuggle up with my dog!”
Some find it difficult to stick to a work schedule due to the added flexibility that is now freely available. “I have to cook, clean, work, watch the kids, watch the maid….”
Still, others complain that they get easily distracted and are unable to focus on work during ‘work hours. “I can’t concentrate. The TV is taunting me!”
So how can you make your work from home experience more productive and happy?
With Tuesday Tips 1-2-3: How To Make Work From Home Work For You. Read on!
Tip#1: Create a routine
Most people who complain about working from home do so because they don’t follow a set routine. Why is a routine important? For many reasons:
To help us feel more in control of our day
To make room for all that’s important and to prioritize
To reduce our stress levels and aid our mental health
To help us form healthy habits
Finally – and this will sound counter-intuitive, but is no less true – to help us cope with change.
So how can you create a morning routine? Start with something small – make up your bed, brush your teeth, drink a cup of coffee or tea. Take a shower and boot up your computer. But before you dive into work, make your to-do list and review your priorities for the day. Try to do all these things at a fixed time every day. Maintain regular hours. Here’s a routine you can try for your work from home workday:
7 AM: wake up and make the bed
7:05 AM: brush teeth
7:15 AM: drink coffee
8 AM: Start work
10 AM: Short tea break
10:15 AM: Restart work
1:30 PM: Lunch break
2:15 PM: Restart work
3:30 PM: Tea break
3:45 PM: Restart work
6 PM: End of day
A routine can be more powerful than a clock at helping you get started each day. It can also help you wind up each day with a sense of achievement and productivity.
It’s also a good idea to take some time at the end of each day to review what you did right, and where you can improve. Use this information to improve your routine and your productivity.
Some more tips:
Create your own guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day
If possible, create a dedicated office space
Figure out what times of day you’re most productive versus when you tend to sag. Reserve your hours of high focus for your most important tasks
Use automatic time-tracking apps to check whether you’re sticking to your schedule
Take breaks in their entirety. Don’t short-change yourself
Tip#2: Set ground rules – for yourself and for others
One of the benefits of remote work is flexibility which allows you to need to extend your day or start early as and when required. But it’s important to not misuse this flexibility. Let routine changes be exceptions rather than rules. If you do work late, sleep in a bit the next morning. If you start early, wrap up earlier than usual to make up.
Give yourself regular breaks during your workday. Stay hydrated with enough water. Eat well and exercise regularly.
Apart from these ground rules for yourself, you should also set down some rules for others. This will help you control the amount of time others take – or selfishly grab – from you. Start by blocking time on your calendar for productive tasks. Don’t schedule any meetings or conference calls during this time. If you’re really busy and someone calls, messages or emails you during that time, politely say that you will get back to them when you have some free time. Unless that person needs your help urgently, there’s no reason why you should allow your schedule to be skewed because of someone else’s priorities.
You should also have rules for the people sharing your home. If you have children, be clear about what they can and cannot do when you’re working. Let other family members, neighbors, or friends know that your work hours are for just that – work. Clearly state that you don’t have the free time to watch their children or pets, oversee their home repairs or collect their Amazon packages.
Tip#3: Ask for help
Most people hesitate to ask for help. This is especially true for women who work from home full time and have a bunch of personal/familial responsibilities and think that they should be superwomen. Don’t fall into this trap. If you try to do everything yourself, you will end up raising your stress and lowering your productivity. You will be stretched so thin that you will start to resent the whole world and come to hate your job. And hating your job is not the way to be productive at it.
Ask your firm what kind of support they can provide. Flexible hours, VPN access, an office mobile – all these can be helpful. If you’re stuck on a particular task, request a colleague for help. If you’re unfamiliar with a piece of technology, contact IT. Don’t waste hours researching “How to access AWS” on Google!
If you have young or school-going children, ask a family member if they can help you watch over them. If possible – and if it’s safe – hire a cleaner and/or cook – so you don’t have to shoulder all home-related responsibilities alone.
At the same time:
Don’t be afraid of change. Be flexible wherever possible
Stay in touch with your colleagues and managers through video calls
Don’t be too yourself. Take time off. It’s not a crime to say “I’m sick. I can’t work today.”
Maintain an active personal life. Talk to friends, read, bake, listen to music – do anything that helps you unwind and be happy
8 Tips to Run a Great Virtual Meeting (Even During a Lock-down!)
The Coronavirus crisis has led to unprecedented nation-wide lockdowns in many countries. This has not only affected the personal lives of individuals, it has also changed the face of business. Companies in every industry, and of every size and type are now scrambling to find ways to keep their operations going on and their profits going up. To this end, leaders are trying alternative ways to coordinate their staff and keep them working as a team.
One of these ways is through virtual meetings.
As the name suggests, a virtual meeting is not held in person but ‘virtually’. It allows geographically dispersed people to share information, discuss challenges and brainstorm ideas in real time. Anyone can join a virtual meeting, regardless of where they’re located, as long as they have the right software installed on their device (e.g. a laptop or Smartphone) and the right ‘credentials’ to enter the meeting.
However, like regular meetings, virtual meetings can also be unproductive and worse, a complete waste of time. To prevent this from happening, it’s very important for the meeting organiser to ensure that:
Attendees stick to the agenda: No rambling, storytelling or going off on tangents!
Outcomes match expectations: If a decision has to be reached, make sure it happens
A few attendees don’t dominate the discussion: Especially if this negatively affects the meeting’s outcome
The meeting starts and ends on time
Minutes are documented and shared with all attendees immediately after the meeting
In fact, most of the problems of virtual meetings can be avoided if certain best practices are followed.
If you plan to organise a virtual meeting anytime soon, here are 8 tips to help you (and your attendees) make the best of it.
Test the technology beforehand
Make sure everyone has downloaded the software, familiarised themselves with its features, and tested their microphones and cameras. If they do all of this after the meeting has started, it will lead to delays, cause frustration and **** the meeting’s momentum before it has a chance to really take off.
Create an agenda with clear objectives and share it with all attendees before the meeting starts. This will ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them so they can prepare accordingly.
Set ground rules
Along with an agenda and objectives, it is also important to let everyone know what is and is not acceptable during the meeting. For example, going on mute is okay but interrupting another speaker is not. You can either send these rules prior to the meeting or talk about them in the first 5 minutes. Let everyone know that these rules are non-negotiable.
When everyone is working from home, it can be especially difficult to maintain team harmony, not only because we can’t ‘see’ each other, but also because we miss out on important ******, non-verbal and other behavioural cues that make human-to-human communications so powerful. Since working from home is now a necessity instead of an option, try the next best thing to face-to-face communications – video.
Instead of traditional dial-in conferences, use video technology (e.g. Zoom or Skype) to keep participants engaged and conversations personalised. To recreate the intimacy of in-person meetings, ask individuals to sit close to their webcam so faces are clearly visible.
Provide audio dial-in options
All your attendees may not have strong Internet connections. This could affect their ability to join a video call. To ensure that these people don’t miss out on the meeting, give them the option to participate via audio. Do let them know that they should join via video if they can and only use the audio option if video does not work.
Control presentation lengths
During a virtual meeting, it is very common to have one person rambling on and on while everyone else ‘tunes out’. This defeats the purpose of the meeting – to collaborate, to build team unity and to brainstorm.
Limit the amount of time a person is allowed to speak, especially if they are making a presentation. In this case, use screen sharing so everyone is on the same page. Once the presentation is done, bring everyone back on screen so they can all ‘see’ each other.
Often, attendees interpret virtual meetings as a license to multi-task. When they do this, their attention tends to waver. Another problem is that attendees may all talk over one another, leading to confusion and even resentment.
To avoid these issues, the meeting organiser or facilitator must guide the conversation, calling on people when required. You can virtually ‘go around the table’ to ask for inputs, suggestions or feedback before a decision is made. This is especially important if the facilitator knows that some of the participants are introverts and unlikely to contribute to the meeting unless they are expressly asked for inputs. If your software includes a ‘raise a hand’ feature, use it to drive discussions without excluding anyone.
Also, it’s perfectly okay to use an icebreaker if it helps make everyone comfortable. Start the meeting with a joke, check in with a certain participant who has a sick relative or ask everyone what they’re doing to stay fit during the lockdown.
Don’t limit your discussion to ‘easy’ issues
A virtual meeting does not mean that you cannot discuss tough issues. It’s natural to think that difficult subjects – say, the death of a senior manager or impending layoffs due to the crisis – are better tackled in in-person meetings. But with the current crisis showing no signs of abating anytime soon, waiting for a face-to-face meeting may not be the right strategy for now.
Don’t shy away from controversial topics. Encourage participants to ask questions and share their concerns. You will be amazed at how much you can achieve from a virtual meeting once you and your team become more comfortable with this new normal.
We’re currently living in strange times. We have to work but the way we work has changed. As we get used to terms like social distancing, quarantine and self-isolation, we have to find newer ways to still stay connected with our colleagues. Virtual meetings are a great way to do this – but only if we follow certain ground rules and make a few adjustments.
Prime Infotech Solution offers a number of world-class virtual meeting solutions. We are the preferred partner of GoToWebinar, the world’s preferred virtual meeting solution. For more information about GoToWebinar or for help in setting it up for your team, contact Prime Infotech Solution today.
Do You Know What’s Hidden In Your Word Documents? And Why Should You Care?
Anybody who uses a computer in the course of work or play has used Microsoft Word (or one of its open-source variants) at some point.
But have you ever wondered what makes up a Word document?
How does a document get created?
What elements does a Word document contain (whether you know it or not)?
And most importantly – why should you care?
For starters, having this knowledge can protect you from a data loss event and potential damage to your finances or reputation.
Read this quick guide for more info!
What do you know about METADATA?
Your Word document is not a passive entity! When you create a Word document and start working on it, it starts creating metadata. This can include elements like comments, timestamps, tracked changes, revision marks or document properties; or even personal information like the author’s name, company details, watermarks, etc.
Metadata information is relevant to the document and can be very useful. It usually gets hidden within the file and is often forgotten. However, if it’s left in the document and the document is then shared with others, it can reveal more than the author ever intended. At best, this information can cause embarrassment. At worst, it can cause serious financial or reputational damage due to loss of market confidence, clients or even disciplinary legal action, especially if Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is involved.
This is why getting rid of metadata is important, more so if a file will be reviewed or shared multiple times.
MULTIPLE WAYS of creating Metadata
There are as many ways of creating metadata as there are types of metadata!
Here are 10 of the most common!
Thanks to Workshare for the below information. For a cool infographic about the metadata elements mentioned below, check out this page here!
Headers & Footers
Track changes & comments
SHARING & REVIEWING Documents
When a Word document is shared and reviewed by multiple parties, the volume of metadata within it increases. This often s happen when new text is added to a file while retaining the original version or when authorship notes are added to show reviewers’ details.
If markups (from one or more reviewers) in a file are turned off and the file is shared again, all those contributions can be retrieved – very easily as it turns out – and cause embarrassment or data loss.
How to REMOVE Metadata
Now you know why it’s important to remove metadata from Word documents before they’re shared. However, doing this manually is impractical and time-consuming.
The simplest way to remove metadata from Word documents is automation.
To remove hidden metadata from Word documents, try Workshare!
Method 1: Open Word
Select the Workshare tab and click Content Risk. The Document Risk Report opens, showing you which metadata is in your document.
The Advanced Options dialog opens. Select all the metadata you’d like to remove.
Method 2: Clean directly from your computer
Right-click one or more documents or folder
Select Send to > Workshare Batch Clean. The Batch Clean dialog opens.
Select all the metadata you’d like to remove.
You can also use Workshare to remove metadata from Excel and PowerPoint files.
Prime Infotech Solution is a leading reseller of all Workshare solutions that are trusted by firms all over APAC. To know more about these products, volume discounts, and free trials, contact us today!
Phone: 022-2308-0666, +91-9833650378