Remote Teaching & Working

Keep Working: Tips for Telecommuting

This is part two of our “Working from Home Essentials” series, transcribed from the “Working from Home Essentials” webinar hosted in March 2020.

I thought in this post that we would cover a few tips for telecommuting since this is a new world for many of you. I was fortunate to have done telecommuting a long time ago back in 2001 – before iPads and smartphones – so, I thought I would give you a few tips as you navigate the world of remote work. 

Work Life/Home Life

One of my biggest tips is to separate your work life and home life, which is a lot easier said than done. What we see right now in telecommuting is different than the norm, in that everybody in the household will be in the same location, at the same time, trying to use the same internet. Figure out a routine or a process that will allow you to segment “this is my work,” “this is my space for work,” “these are my times for work.”

Normally, when you are done for the day, there is that ritual of packing up and walking to your car. Since you are already home, build some kind of ritual to say, “I am done with work for the day,” and from that point on, “I am focusing on myself and my home life.” Setting up the proper environment is key.

Keep Communicating

Keep the lines of communication open with your teams, your co-workers, and, of course, your supervisor. There are going to be so many different scenarios that we haven’t anticipated, so make sure you are communicating well. Check-in regularly with your co-workers. Sometimes remote working can be a very isolating experience, so make sure you are checking in on each other and supporting each other through this transition.

Make sure you have the right equipment to enable you to communicate from home successfully, whether this is a webcam for Zoom meetings or headset for Skype calls. Remember, you can order both headsets and webcams through our tech equipment portal at smu.edu/techsales. We carry many of them in stock, so you can place the order and pick them up almost immediately from the IT Help Desk.

Skype presence indicatorsYou can use your Skype presence indicators to let others know when you are available. I recommend that everyone log into Skype first thing. It is a fabulous tool! Of course, it is good for a quick chat or sharing a link. Still, one of the greatest features is those presence indicators, whether it is Green, or on Do Not Disturb, or I’m Busy, In a Conference Call, that kind of information lets people know when you are around, can be disrupted or there to ask a question. It is an excellent communication signal for folks.

Keep Moving

Don’t forget to get up and walk around. I often find that when I am working from home, I notice it has been eight hours, and I didn’t take a break to breathe. It is easy to feel like you are tied to that computer. Whereas at the office, there is a constant interruption in our day that gives us those little breaks. Make sure that you are pacing yourself, don’t forget to get up and walk around and take short breaks throughout the day.

When you are finished with your workday, shut down your computer and logging out of all your services. This will make it so that you are not getting email or Skype notifications now that you are really shutting down for the day and taking that pause for yourself.

We are Here to Help

Remember to reach out for help when needed. Reach out to your co-workers, your team, your supervisors if you have any challenges or questions, please reach out to the IT Help Desk. We are here to help you and navigate this and get you situated and continuing to support the University.

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Published by

Rachel Mulry

Director of Customer Service- Office of Information Technology