We’re with you. We know that it’s a difficult time to adjust to a new workplace: your living room or dining room.
ILTA’s professional staff have always spanned the globe, talking to each other over kitchen islands and through virtual means, like Slack and Zoom. And now, as the COVID-19 virus requires many of our members and partners to move into a new work-from-home experience, we got together and sourced the best Tips and Tricks to help you work remotely.
Please tell us, in the comments below, your best Tips and Tricks for working remotely. They will help make this necessary change as productive and as enjoyable as possible.
ILTA Staff Tips and Tricks
Working from Home - Confidentiality:
From ILTA CEO Joy Heath Rush
- Be careful of what you discuss where others can hear - you never know who is listening
- Use a screen protector or keep the screen turned away from the sight of others
- Avoid printing on printers in another room. If you have to, retrieve your printed documents immediately.
- Don't forget Windows key plus L to lock your PC screen on demand; do this whenever you leave your computer
- Whether working from home or other locations out of the office, make your working space as office-like as possible in terms of your chair and desk/table. This will protect your neck and back.
Working from Home - Needed Equipment
- Scanner. Most printers now have scanner capability, and many of us use the scanner more than we print.
Working from Home - Security
- Reset default Wi-Fi router passwords (or consult your organization’s policy on this)
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi
- Don’t use USB sticks at all, unless they are encrypted ones issued by your organization. There have been too many examples of such devices being infested with malware.
Working from Home - Ergonomics and Wellness
- Don’t forget to move. We take for granted how many steps we take in the office merely to go to the restroom or grab coffee. You are likely to have fewer steps “naturally” when you work from home, so you will need to be more purposeful about moving.
- From Teresa Laird: A stand-up desk is great. One common routine is to stand during meetings and sit when working on something that requires a lot of keyboarding.
- From Mercedes Brown: Little things like keeping hydrated, scheduling comfort breaks and having a defined workspace plus operating a clear desk policy to make you feel sane and not so overwhelmed.
- From Sam Surillo: Going for a walk outside for 30 minutes every day can create substantial positive feelings. Try to make getting fresh air each day a priority, even if it’s only 5 minutes outside (it makes a difference).
- From Mercedes Brown: Enforce and keep to “work hours” to avoid inevitable overflow into personal time. Include breaks and use those for self-case such as stretching or meditation.
- From Sam Surillo: If you’re not a routine-kind-of-person, (at the bare minimum) make a plan for the day ahead of time (i.e. the night before) and answer some simple but important questions, such as - what time will you wake up, how much time will you dedicate to self-care in the morning, what will you do when you feel frustrated or overwhelmed? Having a base structure for a plan for the day impacts productivity and feelings of wellness and accomplishment.
Working from Home - Connectivity and Bandwidth
- From ILTA’s IT Team: Best Practices for Optimizing Bandwidth when Working from Home
- From Danielle Noon: Something a lot of people don't realize is the more devices connected to your router/modem the slower your download and upload speed will be. They can only withstand up to 10 devices normally. With our high tech world as it is now, people don't realize things that are connected. This can be anything from:
- Alexa smart devices - i.e. echo, show, home etc. and other Amazon devices - i.e. fire stick, bing doorbell etc.
- Wifi garage door openers
- ALL Cellphones and Laptops
- Bluetooth devices such as headsets, lightbulbs, coffee makers, etc...
- baby monitors
- ALL Gaming devices
These all add up pretty quickly so if you and your whole family are now home you may need to up your speed to accommodate all the new devices slowing your internet connection.
Working from Home - Application-Specific Tips
- From Susan McClellan: Ensure that software is updated - Encourage your teams to upgrade their software to the latest version supported under the company's security policy.
Working from Home - Maintaining Team Cohesiveness and Engagement
Working from Home - Setting Ground Rules
- From Susan McClellan: Set up a team virtual Happy Hour or social hour. Encourage everyone to join by video.
- From Susan McClellan: Use an online collaboration tool like Slack, Teams, to keep in touch more frequently.
- From Susan McClellan: If you are a manager, check in with your team more frequently and ask how they are doing.
- From Dawn Hudgins: Engagement can be difficult for people who have never worked from home before. As a manager make sure you check in with your people, have conversations, send a quick note, check-in with them to make sure if there are issues you have an opportunity to address them.
- From Dawn Hudgins: Additionally, create opportunities for your team to have fun together. Host a virtual coffee break where you gather together to chat about something and DON'T talk about work during that time. Take time to do virtual team building activities. There are so many of them out there, all you have to do is google it. Our team this week, is going to the 'bar' together, to chat and have a beverage, in our home office chair... additionally we will be playing Pictionary and next week we are looking to do a virtual escape room!
- From Julie K Brown: Tips/tricks leaders can use to keep teams engaged
- Sending a good morning and closing message each day (make it fun)
- Increasing the frequency of team meetings
- Requiring the use of video calls for group meetings and user interactions
- Encourage the use of teams for social interaction (possible gamify?)
- Virtual team-building exercises
- From Carolyn Humphries: When stress levels are high, email communications can break down and accelerate miscommunication quickly. If you notice misunderstandings are happening, hop on a video call immediately to nip it.
- From Ken Hansen: When I first started working from home I set three ground rules (primarily because I had never done it before):
- Get up when the alarm goes off and get ready for work.
- No television during business hours (except news during something substantial).
- No personal calls during business hours.
They were simple rules but got me on a good path.
- From Dawn Hudgins: Set expectations with your team on how to use the tools and go through the tools and decide how you will use them. For example, SLACK (or other messaging tools) decide how you will let others know you are on the phone, do not disturb, or when you are available. Decide together your team’s best practice. As a manager, chat with each of your team members so you know their personal situations. Have an agreement on sign on, sign off, lunch, etc. That way everyone knows what to expect of each other, and be respectful and keep to what you have agreed on. Agreements are key working well together, and if an agreement isn't working out, it is ok to revisit it.
Other Resources for Working From Home
Echo and Dot Policies ILTA Communities Discussion
Collaboration and Home Working
Blog Post - Virtual Meetings. The New Norm - https://www.iltanet.org/blogs/ross-cunningham/2016/01/06/virtual-meetings-the-new-norm
New ILTA COVID-Related Content:
An all-new Work from Home Podcast Series, Episode 1 and Episode 2- https://www.iltanet.org/viewdocument/all-new-podcast-series-work-from-h
Blog Post - Working From Home—Best Practices and Suggestions - https://www.iltanet.org/blogs/michael-ertel1/2020/03/11/working-from-homebest-practices-and-suggestions
Additional ResourcesLaw 360 Article - https://www.law360.com/articles/1249268/prepare-your-law-firm-tech-for-coronavirus-impact#COVID-19