For many, working remotely is the new normal. While our dogs may love it, this major change to how we organize our day presents new challenges. These business leaders offer their tips for keeping your sanity and staying productive.
Associate Dean of Academic Programs, MBA Director, The Bill Munday School of Business, St. Edward's University
- Set your schedule for the day in advance and work to keep a normal business schedule with breaks and lunch.
- Preplan your schedule the day before and ensure that your online meeting invites have been sent to attendees and are correct. Taking the time to fix miscommunications about meeting ID numbers, passwords, etc. is unproductive and can throw off your schedule.
- Pick your preferred technology platforms, get familiar with them, and try to use them as much as possible rather than jumping from one platform to another. For me it's been Zoom, Slack, Gmail, Canvas, Panopto, and Camtasia (for recording content).
- For getting transcripts of your meetings, select a platform that does text conversion (Zoom does it for example) to provide text-based notes. Alternatively, use a service that will give you an audio track of the meeting and consider sending to a transcription service such as REV for low-cost transcriptions of the meetings.
Executive Director, Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce
- Shower daily, you stink. No seriously you do. Get up every morning to an alarm just like normal.
- Have a dedicated workspace in your house. Ideally, close to the home bar. (Keep plenty of scotch on hand.)
- Walk away from your workspace for lunch; eat, but not too much because yes, you are gaining weight.
- Use the second half hour of your one-hour lunch and go for a walk. Why? See #3.
- End you work day at 5 p.m. Close the computer, and say hello to your family.
Austin Office Managing Director, Accenture
- Show compassion and care — No matter who you are, everyone is facing uncertainty today. Leaders must be empathetic to people’s reactions and their unique circumstances and provide physical, mental and emotional support to build trust.
- Communicate with transparency — It goes without saying that it’s essential for leaders to communicate with their people clearly and in a timely manner, especially in these times. It’s also important to acknowledge the unknowns and demonstrate that they have a plan to respond as things come.
- Proactively create connections — Don’t let the physical distance turn into an emotional distance. As people’s most basic needs are met, they also need to feel a sense of connection and belonging with one another, the community and humanity as a whole. Start today by reaching out to your team — be fully present on calls, turn video on, call out people’s names and make everyone feel included. For instance, at Accenture, we have the largest implementation of the Microsoft Teams collaboration tool. As the pandemic took hold, we’ve seen our usage more than double from our typical 350 million minutes per month to 800 million minutes per month, and our teams' video usage has spiked even more dramatically (14 million to 88 million minutes per month).
- Create a dedicated office working space. This is really important. Having your go-to space where you work from everyday is essential. You won't have to constantly look for stuff, move stuff around, and change things for every call or meeting.
- Take 10-30 min breaks from work. Have a coffee with your spouse or kids, meditate/pray, clean up, go for a walk with your spouse, kids or dog, exercise, call a friend. For those with younger kids, you have to keep them busy, so maybe it's playtime with the kids.
- In a nutshell, it's no longer a straight 8 hour day, it's a "hyper" flex day. If you have kids, especially younger ones or children with disabilities, you have to tend to them during the work day (actually ALL day!!!). In the new normal, you may have to get up earlier to get your early morning stuff done and your workout in.
- Stay visible and engaged with colleagues. Leverage collaboration tools (Google Drive, Hangouts, Slack). You can get more done through collaboration, and you don't have to do it all by yourself.
- Because everyone is home, it's a great opportunity to talk to your kids about what you do and why!
Chief Innovation Officer, ISO
- The best practice for me and for our whole family has been to continue to exercise. We have started doing the Arnold Swarzenagger Challenge. He has 10 exercises that you can easily do with items at home. The whole family does it together, and we holler encouragements at each other as each of us is doing more reps or more weight each day.
- I’ve been continuing to engage with the non-profits that I work with. Helping my fellow Austinites in this dark time reminds me that I’m not alone, even as I’m attempting to remind them that they are not alone.
- I expected to be super-efficient and extra productive during this time, but I’ve noticed the opposite and have often been frustrated with myself. As a result, I’ve been working on some reminders to be compassionate toward myself and toward those around me – everyone is doing the best they can.