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Zia celebrated Pat Myer’s birthday and St. Patrick’s Day with a virtual happy hour.

We recognize that with the constantly-changing situation around COVID-19, many people are working from home more than ever. We also recognize that this is a time of great uncertainty and stress, and our hearts go out to all of you.

At Zia, we’ve had time to prepare for the major shift toward working from home. Uber flextime is one of the perks of working for Zia—we’ve always offered work from home flexibility. Since many of us work from home as needed, and some of us work remotely full time, we’re sharing our best tips and tricks for working from home.

Kristen Harris uses a virtual background on Zoom.

Make the most of digital tools

  • We use an array of wonderful digital tools to make remote work more pleasant. Confluence, Google Docs, Zoom, Slack, and Skype are just a few of these tools. Now is a great time to explore the vast amount of digital tools available. 
  • Use messaging apps to find out if folks are available, or ask a quick question without the full interruption of a full face-to-face meeting.
  • Use video chat. Facial cues really improve communication. They also assure your coworker that you’re not ignoring them and working on a crossword puzzle during the call. Conversely, you can tell when you’ve lost your coworker’s attention. 
  • Try a fun virtual background on video conferences.

Jeff Rosler uses a virtual background on Zoom.

Enhance your workspace

  • Maximize your screen real estate. For instance, do you have an iMac at home? Hook your iMac up to your MacBook Pro and use it as your main display.
  • Bluetooth keyboard and mouse with multiple connections is a game changer. You can switch between multiple laptops with a simple button click.
  • Kids at home? Noise-cancelling headphones are a bliss. Consider a headset that also has noise-canceling microphone if ambient noise is a concern during meetings. Headsets are essential with both parents WFH and kids homeschooling! 
  • If you’re on a call, don’t freak out when the dog barks or the kids wander in and ask for a snack. People are going to be way more put off by you yelling at your dog or kid than by a brief distraction. Just mute the mic, dispatch with the interruption, and apologize when you return to the conversation. People will understand.
  • Invest in an Aeron chair—they’re the real deal.
  • At the same time, comfy chairs are overrated. If you are tired or hurting, it’s a message from your body telling you to stand up and take a break.
  • Upgrade your internet service. If you live in an apartment or townhouse, you may have a crappy WiFi experience due to the multitude of routers around your neighborhood. Check if your router allows 5 GHz connections and enjoy a faster and reliable experience, and possibly better range! 

Video chat assures your coworker that you’re not ignoring them and working on a crossword puzzle during the call… or that you’re a dog.

Maintain your routines

  • Keep office hours. Show up online at the same time you would show up at work. And, power down and really “leave work” when you would normally quit. It can be tempting to sneak in a quick online game during work hours. Or maybe do some laundry. Then you feel compelled to work a little that evening to make up for it. Chaos ensues. Resist this temptation.  
  • Don’t mix work and personal stuff on the same device. Keeping one device dedicated to work helps with focus, and quite possibly keep you out of trouble with your employer down the line.
  • Get up at least once an hour and take a walk before lunch. 
  • Setting a timer can be helpful to remind yourself to stand up and take a break. Some apps (like FocusMe for Windows) help you (force you!) to take regular breaks.
  • Get dressed for work. Being on the hook for a video chat forces you to get dressed.
  • Consider using applications and browser blockers that help you to keep your focus and stay away from the madness of the coro-news. For Windows: FocusMe; for Android: AppBlock. 

Keep office hours. Show up online at the same time you would show up at work, like Michael Muller.

Keep your humanity

  • Virtual happy hours and town halls mean you’ll still be able to preserve at least some of the regular socializing that keeps us happy and healthy.
  • If you’re feeling isolated, you can use video chat to catch up with friends and family. It’s not the same as being with folks in person, but it’s a pretty good substitute and can be super fun for a while.
  • Get off social media. Stay off the TV. Don’t listen to pundits. Humans do not multitask well.  Humans think they multitask well, but they don’t.  
  • Keep your commute—or create a new routine. For instance, if your regular commute usually takes 15-20 minutes, and you typically listen to an audiobook or a podcast, continue to do that. Why not spend that time in a comfy chair or out in the garden, listening to your book or podcast? Otherwise, take your commute time and increase the length of your morning and evening dog walks, for instance.
  • Practice Daily Gratitude, in your personal life or at work. While in person acknowledgements are preferred, sending out emails expressing gratitude to a person or team and making sure to copy others who might like to know is a great way to thank people for getting the right things done.
  • Try working outside.
  • Remember, calm is contagious.

Work outside, like Jon Solove!

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