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March 26, 2020

3 Tips to Work From Home in Virtual Environments

Many of us are now thrust, without preparation, planning or knowing what to do, into a working in a full digital environment- chats, instant messages, audio and video platforms. This can, and often, does, change the dynamic between individuals and within teams. In the video below, I share three tips you can use to transition to this new work from home (WFH) reality. These tips are based on working from home myself for more than 3 years as well as from coaching sessions I have had with virtual, global teams. Hope you find it useful. The transcript of the video is below the video for further clarification if necessary. 


[00:00:00] Hello, everyone, I'm Jennifer Kumar from Authentic Journeys. I'd like to share with you three tips to help you to transition into your new work from home and digital communication environment that you're now thrust into without maybe any or much warning because of the Coronavirus pandemic. And maybe you're on lockdown or you are in quarantine and you can't go outside. I'm going to tell you the three tips that I'm going to go into each of them by detail and then wrap up the call. This isn't a call say I'm already thinking I want to call because I'm actually used to work from home.

[00:00:36] OK, so the three tips - boundary - set boundaries. Two is have buffer time for all of your meetings or digital communication interactions. And three is to speak and articulate more clearly.

Tip 1: Set Boundaries for Your Work Schedule 
[00:00:53] OK, so let me go to detail boundaries. What do I mean by that? Well, now you have your system. Maybe you have your actual laptop from work in your house or your monitors or some other paperwork or other materials that were actually in another building far away from your house. Now they're actually in your house and you get to see them and interact with them and touch them 24 hours a day if you really want to. And maybe you can do that, especially if you're an expat or a transplant. You're working away from home, away from family. And all you really have is work because you know of anyone living with you. And also, maybe, you know, you just get obsessed with work. Who knows? With everything else going on, with all the other stress we're under. Some people throw themself more into work. Everyone is different. So set boundaries for yourself. Before this situation, we had a quarantine or lockdown yourself in the house with your system, in your materials. Remember, you actually had a good boundary set up, right? Because you you could take your commute to work that helped you to transition your mind into the work environment. And, then only once you got into the office at 9:00 or 10:00 or 11:00 o'clock in the morning, you log in and start using your system and checking your emails. And then at five, six or seven, when it was time to go home, you shut everything down and maybe you didn't have to check any messages or any phone calls or any emails after that. And plus, you didn't have your system with you to do that. So I made it a lot easier. So what do you do at 6 or 7 o'clock when you normally used to leave the office, shut your laptop, shut your laptop. And if now you are getting messages over slack or even your own personal mobile device, mobile phone, try your best just to wait till the morning to check it, if possible. This might not always be possible, but I'm coaching some expats and transplants around this right now. And 90 percent of the pings can actually wait. It's just that sometimes when you're expat or a transplant, especially if you're not around your family, you could thrust yourself more into work and get lost in that and then realize that you didn't have any time to relax and you're all stressed out. So let's not have that happen to on top of everything else where it can be a good release, a good way to stop thinking about other realities of the day that are going on right now. Find some other hobbies, maybe reading or doing some exercise videos from YouTube in your apartment. Something else to keep your mind occupied so that you're not going to get stressed out too much over work. So that's tip number one. Set the boundary.


3 Tips to Work From Home in Virtual Environments


Tip 2: Buffer Time (Plan Buffer Time into Online Meetings)
[00:03:51] Number two is the buffer time. Now, what do I mean by that? Usually when you're in an office, when you're meeting people face to face, you can actually finish that interaction a lot quicker than when you have to call somebody on the phone or now you have to organize a meeting over Zoom or Skype. And maybe you've never even done that before. You're still fumbling through that. You're still learning how to do all that. So, even even under the circumstances, that's a new situation. And you're still fumbling through learning how to use the digital communication channels. And that's why it's taking more time. It's still going to take more time later. Like when you once you start getting used to it. What the what the best practices is, usually they say, you know, you'll probably be able to finish between 60 or so, 60 to 75 percent of what you plan on from a from an actual face to face meeting. So if you had like usually an hour full of activity, discussion points and brainstorming sessions and all that and a normal face to face meeting, probably that one hour of information you can really only cover maybe, you know, 30 to 45 minutes depending on the number of people and their connections. And if they get disconnected or all of that stuff is also the technical problems come into play. So try to limit the amount of talking points you have in all of your meetings if possible, or try to summarize them and not speak so long as possible. So that's number two is the buffer time.

Tip 3: Articulate Clearly
[00:05:27] Now, number three is to speak clearly and articulate better. Now, I tend to work with a lot of expats more than transplants, but expats that are living in the US from different countries or even people on global teams, especially from India and other countries that speak English as a second language and have to now get on a video call with somebody in the U.S. or Canada or elsewhere. Of course, before you might have had more e-mails or more chats, but maybe now you're gonna get on a call. You're gonna get a Zoom. You're going to get on Skype. You're going to get on a video. Yes. People might be able to see your facial expressions to see how you speak. Try to slow down and not speak so fast. This tip is also good for native speakers, too. So just because if you're listening to this, if you're a native speaker of English or any other language in which meetings are conducted, it's definitely better to try to articulate and speak at a more even speed for all of your audience members so they can all understand you over a digital channel. And there are about three or four other tips in speaking clearly in virtual meetings. And I did that that webinar. That wasn't a webinar. It was a podcast with Andrea Giordano, who is from Study with Andrea. And I'll link that to this video as well. So I hope you found this video useful. I coach virtual teams. I help them get used to interacting in digital platforms across cultures and maybe even speaking in English as a second language and also learning the cultural tidbits to help them be more effective when working across global boundaries. If you want to get in touch with me, it's Authentic Journeys dot info or info at authentic journeys dot info. Again, I'm Jennifer Kumar from Authentic Journeys. Thanks for listening. 

Do not hesitate to get in touch with me for coaching or brainstorming ideas for you and your team. I have worked with virtual teams in over 50 companies. 

Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.