Before the pandemic hit, my colleagues and I at BlueJeans all preferred to work from home with varying degrees of regularity. Some of us worked from home a lot to save on commute (we have several fully remote coworkers based in different parts of the US and in our global offices), and some only a few days a week. Some preferred going into the office every day and only worked at home in case of specific needs. Now, just like most of you reading, working from home always is a new ‘normal’ for us in these abnormal times.
You have been hearing a lot about how best to improve your work from home experience. Now that you are hopefully somewhat used to working at home, we wanted to remind you of some easy steps you can take to optimize your home working environment – regardless of whether it is a dedicated workspace, or if you are working from a common space in your home. So let’s talk about your WFH, or as I now call it AFH (Always from Home) setup.
1) Space: Where you will be doing most of your work. This can be anywhere in your home. Some find it better to pick a central location in the home if they are also managing the children, pets, and other household duties because - let’s face it - we are not just “doing work”. We also have to teach our children who are at home now, tend to meals and manage intra-family dynamics during work hours.
If you have the option, switch things up by having an area for meetings that is relatively distraction-free, or a space you can move into when you need peace and quiet for some focused work. Regardless of your home setup, moving around a little help keep the creative juices flowing and provides a welcome respite from being glued to the same place all day.
Luckily, I have a loft space that I have declared “The Fortress of #AWESOME” that acts as my main area for working. On rare occasions, I move to the spare bedroom to get some quiet time. Others in my team have chosen the breakfast bar or dining table since it is central in a home to “keep an eye on things” when it comes to children and other family activities throughout the day.
2) Lighting: In most cases, you already have some suitable lighting in your house to get work done. Daylight is the best option - not just for video - it provides a much-needed sense of vitality throughout the day. If you rely heavily on artificial lighting for video calls, try to avoid overhead light (giving you that horror movie look) or being backlit. If your home is like mine, there is a LOT of back light as well as dark corners. Simply get a desk lamp or an extra floor lamp to brighten things up. If you really want to optimize, you can get some LED light panels to help fill the area with light. There are plenty of affordable options available online.
3) Devices: If you work for a video-first type of company that uses an #AWESOME video conferencing solution like BlueJeans, you may want to invest in some audio and video devices. Most of us use our laptop camera and speakers which works pretty well. If you feel your laptop or computer is not up to par, you can get audio and video accessories that will dramatically improve your experience. BlueJeans Meetings also has Dolby Voice integrated into the service, which provides advanced noise cancellation that dramatically cuts out background noise to reduce meeting disruption.
- Audio Devices: Some laptops have amazing audio, but ultra-portables and lower-end laptops have bad speakers. If you are working in a common area, a noise cancelling headset is your best bet to improve on your experience and not get distracted during a call. We will touch on this topic later to dive deeper on the alternative for headset, speakers and other peripherals in our follow-up blog.
- Video Cameras: Laptop cameras are great these days and fill a lot of use cases. In some cases the angle, meeting type, etc. need an alterate solution. We will also cover this in the next article of this series.
We are all in this new era of remote work and it seems that this will be the “way to work” for the foreseeable future. Even when we go back to our offices, we will be forever changed by this experience of working from home for a long period of time. We hope you can make the most of this opportunity to be productive in your home environment with some of these tips. Be up to speed with your meeting controls to feel more comfortable, and don’t worry if everything is not perfect during your calls. We have all been there. Stay safe and stay #AWESOME!
For more resources that help you work from home, visit our remote work hub.