We’re all getting used to the new normal. Working from home and social distancing are measures that will help limit the spread of coronavirus; however, these are massive changes for most of us. Perhaps the silver lining is that our family units will be closer than ever, but how do we work in such close proximity and be productive…all without driving each other crazy?
The solution lies in careful planning. First, each household must establish workspaces schedules that are optimal for all members of the household. For example, in my household we use Google calendar to coordinate schedules. This not only lets us know when the other person is busy, but also, more importantly, when they are free. Regular walks outdoors are a great way to break up the monotony, and now we can more consistently coordinate meals together.
Second, most of us are attending multiple virtual meetings each week which requires the right hardware and software. To ensure a seamless virtual experience, you should do a speed test to ensure that you have sufficient bandwidth for a meeting or multiple meetings for other household members. The big three video conferencing services and their requirements (listed) are: Zoom (2 Mbps), Google Hangouts Meet (3 Mbps), and Skype (1 Mbps). Most likely, everyone will simply need a webcam for video chatting, but if you need to allow people to see what you are writing, you can also use a document camera. If you are having issues with your internet bandwidth and the connection seems spotty, you might need a wireless repeater. Additionally, since most of us are working on laptops with only a type-C usb port, you might consider purchasing a mini-USB dock.
Finally, you should prioritize professionalism in your remote working and learning spaces. Even if you take the steps mentioned previously AND separate your household into distinct workspaces, you can expect noise pollution from other areas of the house. This is disruptive for everyone and compromises the virtual workspace. Again, going back to my household, we use a white noise machine to keep things private. Once noise pollution is under control, be sure to maintain a professional aesthetic. Consider hanging a bookshelf drop cloth behind you to liven up your workspace and to reduce distractions. If you are worried about being disturbed by other household members, you could mount an “in-meeting” light outside your room. I simply turn this on when I’m in a session, and the other members of the household know not to disturb me during this time. Essentially, where possible, treat your remote workspaces like your offices or your school rooms.
There are many other technological innovations you can explore to optimize your remote working space, but hopefully these tools will help you feel more confident working from home.