During the COVID 19 crisis, most companies are moving their employees from working in the office to working from home. The number of people who work from home has been increasing over the past few years, and the COVID 19 crisis has accelerated that number, not only in the short term of the crisis but also in the long term way that companies let their employees WFH. Since WFH is a new concept to most, here are some tips from companies that provide leading WFH infrastructure. I have also written a WFH blog with tips from companies that provide WFH service that you can find here.
Dell Technologies provides business solutions for IT infrastructure, endpoint security, cloud infrastructure, and office PCs and mobile devices. Dell’s commercial mobile lines of devices include its Latitude series of devices. You can read about my take on Dell’s Latitude line of business laptops from Dell Technologies World 2019 here.
Dell Technologies encourages users here to use video calls, like Zoom, as the bread and butter for working from home. The company says communication and transparency are key to having a healthy WFH team, and it should be used between team leaders to share the best leadership practices. When team leaders show readiness and an ability to lead in an online environment, it gives a sense of confidence to team members. Dell says an excellent example of this is a daily call with the team that helps communicate priorities, especially in a crisis where things are changing fast. Dell also encourages users to be mindful of your business security by not using personal devices or services when you have their work equal. It could be a security risk. For Dell, communication between teams and organization makes all the difference.
HP’s business solutions include mobile and office PCs, VR-ready computers, and printers, as well as security and management services for all of its devices. Its business line of laptops includes its Z series mobile workstations and Elite-series of ultra-mobile laptops. You can read my review of HP’s Elite Dragonfly ultra-mobile laptop here.
HP says here that having the right PC, webcam, audio, headset, and printer can make the home office feel more like your office. I can testify that having the right PC can make all the difference. HP recommends getting a quality computer that caters to your line of work and your workflow. In some cases, a laptop would be better than a desktop, and a mini PC would be better than a laptop. For video calling, HP says an excellent quality webcam can help make you more present during video calls. I have found that some front phone cameras offer a better webcam and video call experience than many laptops I test. Similarly, having a quality audio connection or headset helps with quality communication between your teammates. HP also says it is good to have a reliable printer at home that works with all of your devices. I’ve seen people saying on Twitter that it’s been years since they have printed this much. Unlike the office building, printers are not always readily available in a home. HP recommends multiple monitors for the most productive setup. As you might have a multi-monitor setup in the office, having one at home will help you deal with all the new virtual work with services like Webex, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Hangouts Teams.
One feature I’d recommend trying out is an audio feature HP has which enables what I consider a “cone of silence” for collaborative meetings. This shields out all other noise that isn’t directly in view of the display.
Lenovo provides business-class mobile and desktop computers and workstations as well as business solutions. Its Think-series of devices include office workstations and ThinkPad laptops. Its solutions also include tech support and security services. You can read more of my take on Lenovo’s newest ThinkPad add-ons at CES 2020 here.
Lenovo’s tips, which you can find here, are for having a productive workflow at home, include separating work life from home life. Since COVID-19 has affected the home life as well as the way you work, things like childcare may be something you and your colleagues have to juggle alongside work. Being considerate of those things and knowing that they can affect your workflow helps with having a productive workflow. Replacing in-office breaks and chats for those in the home can help bring a healthy workflow, and it might help to change scenery to a different part of the house. Maybe moving to the living room or the back porch helps clear your mind to focus.
Formerly Plantronics and Polycom, Poly is a global communications infrastructure company. Its solutions include headsets, microphones, and video collaboration devices that are used for video calls and meetings for business. Poly is very unique in that it makes products that work a myriad of service providers. I consider it the “Swiss Army Knife” of collaboration and communication infrastructure as the company is partnered with Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Cloud Platform and G Suite, BlueJeans with Meetings, and LogMeIn with GoToMeetings.
Poly has tips here that relate to how to manage employees that are now working from home. The company says as a manager, communicating well and even over-communicating can change the focus and tone of the team. A subcategory of communicating that also helps effective leadership is receiving and giving feedback. Feedback ensures that everybody on the team is on the same page. It can be challenging to know if your team is on the same page when you don’t see them and f feedback ensures that communication is at the level it needs to be. Poly also reminds us that not every conversation we have with our team has to be work. In the office, some conversations have to do with our well-being and personal lives. Working from home shouldn’t interfere with having those conversations.
Working from home may be a difficult transition at first. But understanding what fits and what works best for you can make the transition much more manageable. Poly says giving and receiving feedback between your teams can help relay communication and transparency that you would otherwise only get from the office. HP recommends having a setup that fits your line of work because it can make a difference. Lenovo says to separate your work from home. Dell encourages team leaders to share your best WFH practices so that your teams can be transparent and communicate effectively.
Some parts of the office can be emulated, but other parts of the office, like team interactions, are going to be different and, in some ways, better. Like the first time you stepped into an office environment, you will get the swing of things. Working from home will continue to grow and become just as normative as working in the office.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.