[With many of your customers now working from home, now is the time to reach out with ideas on how they can improve their home office capabilities. Mike Grubb of Legrand offers an example of a blog that can help clients can upgrade using their products.]
Among the casualties of the COVID-19 outbreak has been our sense of normalcy, especially in our work lives. With the need to social distance and adhere to stay-at-home orders, offices around the world have shuttered, turning many non-essential employees into remote workers overnight. And while the pajama-clad, bathing-optional lifestyle certainly has its benefits, employees are quickly realizing that it also comes with a unique set of challenges when it comes to actually working. With that in mind, the following are five things that remote workers need to not only do their jobs, but make working from home more productive.
1. A Solid Network
From answering emails to sharing documents with colleagues and conducting video conferences (more on that shortly), everything remote workers do requires a reliable network connection. And while a wired network provides the highest reliability, most devices used in the home office don’t have an Ethernet port, with the notable exception of desktop computers. Laptops, smartphones, VoIP phones, and tablets all require a wireless connection. For that reason, a wireless router will be at the heart of the home network. And with everybody working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, average bandwidth usage in the home has spiked dramatically. For employees with outdated routers, the results will be crawling internet speeds and decreased productivity.
If an upgrade is in order, features to look for include speeds of at least 1200 Mbps; simultaneous dual-band support for the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies; support for virtual private network (VPN) servers and firewalls; and USB ports to connect external drives. For homes with more than one wireless access point (AP), another important feature is roaming technology, like the Roam Assist technology that’s baked into Luxul’s wireless routers. Without it, Wi-Fi becomes glitchy when devices migrate from an AP with a weak signal to a closer AP with a stronger signal, resulting in slow-loading web pages, choppy video streaming, and dropped Wi-Fi calls.
2. Clean Structured Wiring
In many home offices, it’s not uncommon to find network equipment cluttering the desk or floor, accompanied by a mess of “cable spaghetti.” Not only does this distracting eyesore makes it hard to focus, but all those jumbled wires crossing each other can have an adverse impact on the network connection. A great way to solve both problems is through structured wiring enclosures, like those offered by On-Q. Made from UL-rated ABS plastic, Wi-Fi transparent structured wiring enclosures allow devices such as wireless routers, APs, and service provider equipment to be secured in a cabinet without degrading network performance. Knockouts of various sizes allow for simple management of cables running to the enclosure. The result is a clean, organized look for a tidy workspace and improved network speeds for increased productivity.
3. A Strategy for Effective Online Meetings
Like it or not, meetings are a central part of working life, and that fact hasn’t changed with the COVID-19 crisis. Instead, we’ve transitioned to an online format, and many organizations that are new to the experience are finding it difficult to conduct them effectively. Luckily, Luxul has been perfecting the art for some time and recently shared what we’ve learned in the video Five Rules for How to Run a Smooth and Successful Online Meeting. Here are the highlights:
- Have a clear and well-communicated agenda. Sending the agenda to attendees in advance will allow them to prepare for the meeting and be more engaged. Keep the agenda in line with the time you have scheduled so the meeting doesn’t go long.
- Turn webcams on. While this means attendees have to put on professional attire, at least from the waist up, it also makes it easier to engage with your fellow participants and interpret their tones.
- Share visuals. Sixty-five percent of the population are visual learners, so sharing examples visually will help to reinforce key take-aways.
- Take occasional pauses. In order to avoid one-sided conversations, taking pauses makes sure others have time to ask questions and make comments, which in turn increases the meeting’s effectiveness and flow.
- Send out a recap email. After the meeting has concluded, sending out an email that recaps key takeaways increases post-meeting productivity and adds value to the conversation as a whole.
Studies have shown that listening to your favorite music in the workplace can enhance your mood, which can consequently increase your productivity and capacity for creative problem solving. For employees accustomed to having little say in the background music piped throughout the office, working from home brings a clear advantage: Complete control over the day’s soundtrack. They can put on whatever they want to get into the groove and on-task. And while this can be accomplished easily enough using their computer speakers, there’s no reason to limit the experience. A whole-home audio system allows them and their families to relax to their favorite tunes anywhere in the home. There are many solutions available, such as Nuvo’s Player Portfolio line, that allows for the easy expansion of audio systems to any number of zones.
5. Patience and Understanding
Finally, we have to remember that all of our colleagues are adjusting to a new normal right now, and not everything is going to go as smoothly as planned with a sudden remote workforce. Some have discovered that cats cannot resist an occupied desk or unguarded keyboard. Typos and accidental emails are undoubtedly on the rise. Video calls are a minefield for mishaps, from restless kids making cameos to that co-worker who just can’t get the hang of the mute button. But we are all in this together, and by responding to issues with patience and understanding, we will all make it through.
Mike Grubb is the vice president of marketing for Legrand | AV – CI. He can be reached at [email protected].