New to Working from Home? Here Are Some Tips to Help You Meet Like a Pro
With many businesses now encouraging or even mandating that employees work from home amid global health concerns over the coronavirus, millions of people can expect to have their daily routines and work styles impacted. But not everyone is accustomed to working from home, and getting into work mode from a space that’s not your regular one can be a huge adjustment.
The bright side of working from home is that you save time on a commute, spend more time with family, and maybe get a few more things done around the house. But the challenges, including loneliness, staying connected, and a heightened penchant for distraction, can have a significant effect on your psyche and productivity. So, we’re here to help!
Whether you’re relegated to working from a spare bedroom, coffee shop, the library, or the lobby of your apartment building, we’ve compiled some tips to help you get set up, limit distractions, maintain confidentiality, and meet like a pro, no matter where you are.
Getting the right license and software downloaded
Step 1: Create a Zoom account – it’s free to sign up! There’s a Pro version available, but if you just need a quick solution to meet on video, the free version provides all the capabilities and features you need. Either way, it takes about 30 seconds to sign up for a Zoom account. Here are the main differences in a nutshell:
- Zoom Basic: This is the free version. Great for 1:1 unlimited video calling and group calls (40-minute time limit if you’re the meeting host). You also get unlimited direct and team messaging capabilities with Zoom Chat.
- Zoom Pro: For $14.99/month, you get all of Basic plus enhanced admin controls on your meetings, in addition to cloud recording. Compare plans and pricing to find out the best one for you.
Step 2: Download the Zoom Meetings software on your desktop and mobile. You can find our download center here. From there, just sign in, and you’re ready to go!
Let’s talk about your setup
Your laptop (Mac or PC) will likely have a built-in camera and audio, but it makes a big difference in the experience for you and others in the meeting when you have a quality webcam and a good microphone.
To be your best self on camera, I recommend getting a Logitech Brio webcam and a set of Airpods (or the Plantronics Focus UC or Logitech Zone wireless headsets) if you can make the investment. Even a pair of wired mic-enabled headphones can go a long way. Check out this test I did. You can see my quick audio and video demo of the different set-ups I commonly see:
Great lighting also is crucial. Try and have your face be lit by a nearby window or get a small webcam light.
And don’t forget about your internet. Typically, home internet isn’t as robust as your office network. This means that if you have all your family members streaming movies and playing games, you might experience bandwidth issues. Rest assured, though, that Zoom is optimized for efficiency and is known to work great at home, in cafes, and on your mobile network. And in cases of compromised bandwidth, Zoom will prioritize your audio over your video to make sure you’re heard.
When you’re all set up with the software, the setup, and your internet, go to www.zoom.us/test to test your audio and video. You’ll join a quick test meeting to help get your communication settings all squared away.
Start meeting and collaborating!
Here are some of my go-to’s to make your meetings productive and flawless with Zoom.
Virtual backgrounds (image or video) to hide chaos
Uploading a nice background or video will help you hide background clutter and other visual distractions, especially for those who may work out of a spare bedroom, have a dog that follows you around, or work occasionally from your in-laws’ kitchen table.
Holding the spacebar on my keyboard to temporarily unmute
I like to stay on mute in large meetings just in case my dog barks or someone rings my doorbell. Holding the spacebar to unmute to make a quick comment makes it so much simpler to manage my audio. Once again, this is included in all Zoom Meeting plans.
It’s easy to share your screen and collaborate with Zoom. Our platform also supports multiple people sharing their screens at the same time. It’s great for highly collaborative teams, like engineers.
Zoom supports real-time collaboration through our whiteboard feature! While virtual whiteboarding can be difficult from most devices without a touch screen, consider joining the meeting with an iPad and then share/whiteboard on the iPad.
Integrate your calendar
I use Gmail, so I’m going to go through that specific workflow, but you can find more on calendar integration here if you use Office 365 or Exchange.
- Go into your Zoom Admin Portal and connect your calendar. (Takes about 1 minute)
- Go install the Zoom for G-Suite plug-in to make it super simple to add Zoom Meeting links to all your calendar events.
Here’s a <1-minute video on how to integrate your calendar (Gmail demo).
Annotating over shared content
Making design or doc edits is so much easier when you can jointly annotate and make edits. Make sure you leverage the co-annotation capabilities to simplify collaboration.
Leverage in-meeting chat to share files & resources
I use in-meeting chat as a way to share links or resources that may be discussed in the meeting. For example, team members will share Google docs, URLs, or just quick comments (as to not disrupt ongoing conversations).
Enable “Touch Up My Appearance” for a subtle video enhancement
This capability can be enabled via your Zoom settings. It helps reduce under-eye baggage and mild skin blemishes, giving you a more polished look.
Secure your meeting experience
Your office setup might be dialed on your security preferences, but your remote working setup might need some help. Zoom has a ton of great features to protect your meetings and provide privacy. With Zoom, you can:
- Lock your meeting and require a password to join
- Enable the Waiting Room feature and admit/boot users only when you’re ready to have them join
- Restrict meeting participants to only authenticated users with the same domain
- Enable a watermark on audio and video if your meeting content is sensitive
- Limit screen sharing to content from a specific application rather than your entire desktop, so participants can’t accidentally get eyes on something they shouldn’t.
Other work-from-home tips
Trips to the coffee maker, the water cooler, or in-person meetings typically break up your day at the office, and it’s important to keep up similar routines at home. Our main recommendation is to keep up your routine just as you would if going into an office. Doing all the things you do in the morning — brushing your teeth, showering, eating breakfast, etc. — will help you embrace the change and stay focused.
Here are a few other work-from-home tips from some of our Zoomies:
- Get dressed: Get dressed from head to toe. You should put on a shirt or outfit you’d normally wear to the office work and not the ratty old shirt you’d wear to clean your garage.
- Take 5 regularly: Just like the office, proactively take breaks every hour to avoid burnout. Take the dog for an extra walk (your dog will love it!), put in that load of laundry, or spend 15 minutes outside with the kids (they’ll love it, too!).
- Stretch! Stop your video and stretch yourself a little bit every hour. Take a lap around the kitchen in between calls or use a lacrosse ball or massager on your back to stave off the kinks. Or make it more fun and use a virtual video workout background and get your reps in during a meeting!
- Communicate your availability: Publish your calendar so others can see it and quickly understand your commitment. You can block off time for work on projects, set reminders for important tasks, and even reserve a time to get dinner started. You can also toggle your Zoom Chat status to busy when you need to be heads-down on a project.
- Eliminate distractions: Shut the door to give yourself some privacy and separation, especially at home. Even hanging a curtain to separate your space can help. You’ll also want to close tabs and pause notifications so you’re not tempted to constantly check social media. Even setting a 10-minute meeting or two throughout your day to specifically check your feeds can give you a break and something to look forward to.
- But avoid isolation & loneliness: Many people need that personal contact with their team, so it’s helpful to have daily team stand-ups and check-ins. You can even set up a “group lunch” with your colleagues over Zoom. Talk live or disable the audio and chat with the group or 1-on-1 privately, whatever helps you get the conversation and connection you need.
There are lots of great resources out there on best practices for working from home and hosting digital experiences. Here are a few:
- On-Demand Webinar: Best Practices for Working from Home with Zoom
- Top 10 PROVEN Tips to Set Up a Temporary Work from Home Office Successfully
- Best Practices for Hosting a Digital Event
- Solving the Workplace Challenges of the Future with a Video-First Culture
- Embracing and securing a remote workforce: Cybersecurity in the time of COVID-19
- Tips for a Productive New Groove
Start working from home
Just remember — everyone on your team is most likely in the same boat. A dog barking or doorbell ringing while in a meeting isn’t the end of the world. Do your best to prepare your workspace, adjust to your new routines and work setting, and shrug off the little things. You’re doing great!!