Use these 6 tips for better video calls while working at home

My Post - 2020-03-17T100924.569.pngCOVID-19 continues to affect our communities in a variety of ways. For many, working from home is a new reality. In response, Google has rolled out free access to our advanced Hangouts Meet videoconferencing capabilities to all G Suite customers globally until July 1, 2020. Here are a few tips from our Head of G Suite Product Marketing on how to have productive video calls. This piece originally appeared on The Keyword.

 

In the life of a working mom or dad, flexibility is key. And in the life of a sometimes-work-from-home working mom, technology is the reason I can be flexible. Sometimes my kid gets sick, or I need a plumber to come fix the toilet. I’m lucky to have a job that lets me work remotely in an age where videoconferencing is an acceptable way of staying on track with the day’s meetings.

But videoconferencing isn’t always easy. The kids climb on you, the dog barks, there’s background noise … you get the idea. I’ve had some embarrassing moments and made plenty of mistakes, but I’ve learned a few things along the way. Here are my tips for successful videoconferencing from home.

When you’re on a call, give some thought to what’s around you, such as the backdrop.

Tip 1: Choose the right environment

When I want to talk through a complex issue or brainstorm ideas, video calls are more efficient than chat or email. They also help me get to know teammates in different time zones. But when you’re on a call, give some thought to what’s around you, such as the backdrop. Choose a plain wall, and avoid windows that will provide too much backlight. And if you’re using a laptop, put it somewhere steady. I once did an entire video call with my laptop on my, well, lap, and at the end the other participant told me that the subtle wobbling of the screen was extremely distracting.

Tip 2: Invite anyone, anytime

Videoconferencing doesn’t always have to be scheduled; if you’re in the middle of a too-long email conversation, you can instantly set up a meeting and invite people within or outside of your organization to join. Hangouts Meet automatically creates international dial-in codes so people can call on the phone from anywhere, and you can invite people via a Google Calendar event, by email, or by phone. Check out our help center to get started. – Read more

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5 Tips to Balance Working From Home and Parenting

My Post - 2020-03-16T152012.027.pngThe average office-based worker may find the transition to working from home to be challenging enough. After all, you’re surrounded by potential distractions, tempted by your fridge and comfy bed, and loneliness creeps. Then you throw children into the mix, and it’s a whole new level of chaos.

Parents, take heed—if you find yourself suddenly at home with your laptop, your child(ren), and a calendar full of video meetings, take a deep breath and face the day with gusto. We have five tips to help you maximize your productivity as a remote worker while also keeping your young ones happy (and quiet) during your workday.

1. Create a separate work space.

If your home is also your workplace, try and keep your work in a separate room. This will allow for a psychological, as well as a physical, division between your personal and work lives. This will also make it much easier for you to leave work “at work” at the end of the day so you can focus on your family.

If you’re not the primary caregiver on any given day and someone else is on hand playing that role, SHUT THE DOOR (if possible)! Retreat to your separate room and set up your remote office. Revel in the distant hum of someone else attending to your children’s needs, and delight in the fact that you can simply pop in your earphones and get some quality work done!

2. Plan your day carefully. 

If you know your children are going to be at home when you’re working, be realistic about what you can get done—and when. Plot each workday out in advance—how about the night before?—and stick to it. Otherwise, you might start to feel like you’re going to lose it with multiple deadlines looming and Play-Doh and soccer balls hurtling by.

If you share your childcare with a partner or a childcare provider, plan to do your best work when your children are being looked after or entertained out of sight. If you can schedule some downtime throughout the day to spend with your munchkins, all the better. You might just go back to work feeling refreshed, while your children may also feel sated enough to give you some quiet time to get your work done (maybe).

3. Schedule some time for yourself. 

Working from home while trying to balance childcare and family time can be exhausting. Make sure you give yourself some time to unwind. Sometimes this may mean scheduling a free block of time on your calendar so you remember to follow through, but that’s ok—this mental break is crucial for your sanity!

Tip: Try to incorporate movement into your break to boost your energy and ward off the dreaded afternoon slump—do some yoga, walk the dog, or, better yet, play with the kids. They’ll love being with you, and you’ll feel better about focusing on work for the rest of the afternoon. As a bonus, perhaps they’ll be tuckered out and ready for a nap afterward.

4. Be upfront about your predicament. 

No doubt many of you have been in the cringeworthy position of doing your best to conduct a work call with your little people wreaking havoc in the background. Some of you may have hit the next level of embarrassment—joining a video meeting only to have your children take the limelight.

The best thing you can do in these situations is to be upfront and honest about your tricky predicament. You’ll find that most people on your call have also been there or will at least understand it’s not the easiest situation to be in. And as your son/s or daughter/s starts taking their crayons to your laptop screen while singing their ABCs at the top of their lungs, you might just find your rapport with colleagues or customers gets a little bit stronger. We’re all human, after all!

When all else fails and you feel like you’re really not going to have a constructive call, you can use a team messaging app, such as RingCentral, to let your colleagues know in real time that now is not the best time.  – Read more

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How Important is the Option to Work Remotely to Employees?

My Post - 2020-03-09T175427.280.pngWill the option to work remotely make or break a job acceptance? We conducted a nationwide survey to determine how greatly job seekers value remote work

How Important is the Option to Work Remotely to Employees?

Technology has advanced to a point where employees can grab a laptop and their cell phone and set up shop wherever it is most convenient. This has led to a major shift in how companies do business. Rather than asking their employees to commute to work every day or even at all, many companies have opted to give their employees completely free reign for whether or not they work from a desk. In fact, most companies will at the very least offer the option to work from home when their employees are feeling under the weather or have a personal situation going on that requires them to leave the office.

This option is seen as a vital way to accumulate talent as it becomes more expected as a perk. Companies see huge benefits to giving their employees more freedom, and it also cuts office costs and boosts general engagement for employees. It seems like a win-win for both employees and companies. But as it becomes a more mainstream option, there has been more discussion about how important this is to continuous talent acquisition. This survey asked over 2,500 people nationwide how important they feel that the option to work remotely is to their decision to accept a job. The results might surprise you.

On average, the ranking for how important it was to an employee that their employer offers a remote work option was lower than we would have estimated. Most states averaged right around the middle of the road for how highly they rank working from home as a perk. Vermont had the highest average at just under 7 out of 10, followed by Alaska and New Hampshire. It’s possible that the snow-filled winters (and by extension snowy road conditions) had something to with the higher rankings in the Northeast!

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Tennessee had the lowest ranking for how important they feel the option to work remotely is to their work experience. – Read more

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