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Leadership

Tips for Working from Home and Online Meetings

So, you’re a “non-essential employee” and you’re working from home during the Covid-19 lockdown. I read yesterday that there are about 1 billion of us joining the remote worker ranks this month.

Today marks Day 7 of working full-time from home for me and my wife Ann. We’ve figured this out fairly well over many years of doing this. We have two separate rooms with multiple screens set up and doors that close so we can focus without interruption and avoid those awkward “your camera’s on?” moments. We’ve also rediscovered the old-school joy of spontaneously reaching out with a personal phone call to people we care about.

I have written a lot on virtual meetings. One of my blog’s most popular posts on this topic is from 2011 and I published a book about leading over distance in 2013. All this to say you’ve probably been building your virtual muscles for awhile, but the stakes are higher now.

I’m not a prophet, but my take is that after the quarantines lift we will not return to business as usual. That’s good. World culture just made a huge mental shift. Remote work is here to stay. It’s our job as leaders to master the art and science of agile meetings and remote management.

My colleague Erik Butz and I have been doing virtual meetings for more than fifteen years together. He has honed the craft. His team recently published a curated list of “Tips for Working From Home and Virtual Meetings” that I’m sharing with his blessing. It has great stuff on mindset, schedule, getting the tech right, being human while getting work done, and several links to helpful resources.

A few highlights I found helpful this week:

  1. Simulate your daily work routine. Get up at the same time as normal, start working at the same time as normal. Take a “normal” lunch break. Have an end time. Let your family know what you’re planning for “office hours” and when you can take breaks to engage with them.
  2. Set up a good work space. Although it’s tempting to do work from your bed, in front of the TV or on the kitchen table, it’s best to establish your workspace in a specific and consistent spot in your home. This allows that space to signal “work” to your brain. It will also help your job to not intrude into the lives of other household members and ideally it will be a space where you can focus and concentrate.
  3. Keep engaged with your co-workers. Working from home is a discipline that won’t come naturally to all. Replace hallway conversations by initiating text or chat messages to check in with people. Especially if you are feeling disconnected – proactively reach out to your team leader or teammates. Set up team video check-ins to give updates on work progress and also video call break times when everyone can connect informally, catch up, and pray for one another.
  4. Get some fresh air. Get outside for breaks and take a walk around your neighborhood if you can. Spending time outside and seeing some nature lowers stress, helps you relax and clears you mind. 
  5. Get some focused work done. Take advantage of the opportunity to work on tasks that require deeper thinking, planning and prayer. This could include writing, developing plans and proposals or creating content that requires extended periods of undistracted time.

Download the doc for more tips. May God bless you and establish the work of your hands.

By Ken

Dr. Ken Cochrum (DMin, Bethel University) is Vice President of Global Digital Strategies at Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) in Orlando, Florida. An avid cyclist and aspiring guitarist, he also holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas and a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. He recently co-founded Indigitous.org, a movement passionate about connecting people to Jesus using digital strategies. He previously served as vice president of Cru’s student-led movements worldwide. He and his wife Ann spent 13 years in East Asia where they raised their two children. Ken blogs regularly at www.onleadingwell.com.

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