J Street is already a virtual company. We are not affected by the stay-at-home orders in our state, and we’ve been working remotely for over a year. Let us know if you need help with work-from-home technology like web conferencing, online document sharing, and web applications.
President Armen Stein has earned the Microsoft MVP Award every year since 2006. The award is for technical expertise (for Access in Armen’s case) and community involvement. There are fewer than 40 Access MVPs in the world!
Let’s Be Independent Together
J Street went completely virtual in 2018, so we have experience with the challenges of not seeing each other often. Whether you were already working from home before the isolation directives were put into place in your area, or this is a whole new thing for you, it can get lonely. Over the past two years, we’ve found ways to stay connected.
Schedule Regular Group Meetings
Once a week our entire team meets virtually for a check-in about current projects, workloads, etc. We ask that everyone be on camera so that we can be more engaged and read body language. This meeting is mostly business-like, but we do get some good-natured jokes and teasing in. We also meet every few weeks for fun virtual happy hours which include adult beverages, talking about movies and shows we’ve watched, interesting events in our lives, etc. We encourage each other to be in a different location and wear casual clothes. These fun meetings help us to stay connected – even though we can’t see each other in person (especially now).
In addition, I try to encourage a “drop-in” culture. We use Microsoft Teams to ping each other, on camera, with quick questions to help us feel more connected.
Create a Work Space
- Even if you don’t have a home office or room that you can dedicate to work, try to carve out a space in your home that is calm and well lit.
- Keep your area organized to lessen distractions.
- If your house is bustling, try a set of noise-cancelling headphones.
- Invest in (or ask your boss to buy) a good webcam to put on top of your monitor at eye level. The quality and angle are better than your built-in camera.
- If you have a plain wall behind you, you can use virtual backgrounds on most videoconferencing services.
- Set a schedule for work time and breaks.
- Devise a system to indicate that you are working and not to be disturbed (check out my article The Cone of Silence).
Some of our team members have adjusted their work hours to spend time outside in the sun (yes, occasionally it does appear in Seattle.) Others are using their lunchtime to exercise. I encourage my team to practice daily physical and mental self-care and to let me know if they need anything.
We’ve Got This
Things are uncertain right now, and we need to work together to get through it. Let me know if there’s anything we can do to help you or your business in these troubling times.
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