Working from home again? Our Sales Manager, Hugh, shares his experience.
“Pre-Pandemic, I spent most of my working day out on the road, visiting prospects and client’s sites, getting a better understanding of their business, enabling the DNS Team to deliver high-impact services and solutions to our customers. Working from home was something I would do most evenings, sending emails, working on projects without distraction.
I’m fortunate to have a home office, which is a replica of the office at DNS; A docking station for my laptop, dual monitors and a headset that’s linked to the DNS phone system, which is installed on my computer. We don’t use VPN’s to connect to a server, we utilise the Cloud (Microsoft Sharepoint) for all of our company documents, project files, proposals etc, so this minimises any possible issues that can occur on a company network. Because of this, I was able to make and receive calls from day one, I could host team and customer meetings using my webcam, Microsoft Teams and my headset – reducing any background noise interference or confidential conversations being overheard, I could work on projects with the benefit of multiple screens, sharing this information as if I was sat in front of someone – I was ultimately setup and productive from day one.
Working from home for me was no different to being in the DNS office, at McDonald’s, in a service station car park, or in a meeting room at a Client’s office. The difference this time was that we weren’t allowed out. I was bound to the four walls of my home office – with no chance to leave and have a change of scenery.
I found it particularly hard within the first 4 weeks as the structure of my day was so regimented – sit in my chair and don’t leave. I didn’t want to miss a call, respond to an email too late, or not deliver that important proposal, as I felt I would impact on someone else’s day/workload or even, the business. I was eating my breakfast, lunch and dinner at my desk, never leaving. I was exhausted.
What’s great about starting your working day at home is that you can start much earlier, as there’s very little travelling from your bedroom – to kitchen – to office. The problem is, doing this everyday without leaving isn’t healthy.
I decided to create a plan, a plan to include some ‘disconnected time’, away from the desk. Having breakfast in the kitchen, away from my laptop and phone, walk Nigel (our puppy) at lunch time and a clear understanding of what was ‘closing time’. These simple things really helped with my productivity – I was able to concentrate for longer, once having a break from the screen. I decided it wasn’t healthy working all day and night from the same spot – I was becoming unproductive.
Overtime, I started bringing my phone with me on Dog walks, as I could still answer calls, even Video calls through Microsoft Teams, but I’d be away from the office, enjoying some sunshine and wasn’t missing those important and urgent calls, I also wasn’t coming back to a mountain of emails on my return.
Having a phone system ‘app’ installed on your laptop is great, but working at night time you don’t really utilise it. It was in the working day I found myself glued to my headset, on calls, whilst working hard on the computer. Having a headset helps, as you can walk away from the screen, stand up without having to hold a phone to your ear, walk off, make a cup of tea, all without leaving a conference call or meeting.
Working with a Dual Monitor setup is great, it really does improve your productivity. I use several software packages throughout the working week, but what gets most of my attention is Outlook, Word and Excel. I really struggle using my laptop for all of my daily tasks, I’m just not productive enough with it alone, the screen is too small. So, whilst in the office, I would concentrate on the projects I was working on, using the time effectively whilst sat at my desk.
An hour in the morning and towards the afternoon I would spend time out of the office, with just my laptop at the kitchen side – dealing with, reading and filing emails. I found this particularly useful when needing that ever so needed change of scenery. It also meant that I was using my time in the office spent well – I would still read emails, but I wasn’t filing them into customer/internal folders, I wasn’t adding notes to the CRM that had to be added that second. I could do this later, in a different room, solely with my laptop.
Just because I was 100% setup for the home working environment, I wasn’t prepared mentally to change my routine overnight – I had to learn how to work at home. Once I made those small changes, it really did make a huge difference to my workload and mindset – I was once again productive, where I always strive to be.
In the heart of the lockdown, I noticed the sheer amount of emails I was receiving; People trying to connect with me, stay in touch, ask questions, work collaboratively, ask for help etc. Not everyone has the same setup as I had, they were having to use their mobile phone to call me, they didn’t have Teams or a webcam in order to have a virtual ‘face to face’, they didn’t have a big monitor to see my screen-share, and so many resorted to emails, and lots of them!
In the office, you can raise questions with your teammates, colleagues and peers, directed at one or two individuals knowing others need to be privy of that information too. You can highlight key information to your team, in one go – stood up at the door. Emails are similar, in that you are sending and receiving information, and sometimes you need to be included, but they’re not directed at you all the time. I found I was being included in mass emails throughout the day (CC’d) which would take a huge proportion of my time up, reading them, filing or responding.
I decided I’d create a rule in Outlook to move any emails I’m CC’d in, to another folder – away from my inbox. This gave me such a huge timesaving advantage, as I wasn’t taking my focus off my tasks, to read something I just needed to ‘see’, later down the line. I could concentrate on my core business and read these CC’d emails (less important to some extent) later in the day, early in the evening, from the sofa. This rule really did help me become more productive – so much so, it’s still in place now.
All of the systems in place and my strategy for an effective working week helped me become more effective and settle in, working at home. What made this as success, which I truly think would be for many individuals would be these three key items:
- Cloud Systems (Sharepoint)
- Microsoft Teams (for Video Calls, Content Sharing and Team Messaging)
- A USB Headset – a must!”
There are a variety of services DNS can offer in order to help with remote working from, I.T support, remote working, telephone systems, managed printers & engineer support we can certainly help remote and Covid-secure working run smoother. Please give us a call if you would like to learn more: 0845 034 0895.