Advisor Reflections: Working From Home

June 26, 2020

My wife and I have been both working from home the last three months while our young children are also at home with us.

Once it became clear to me that we would be working from home for more than a few weeks, it was important to set up a workspace where I could focus and engage with clients and colleagues in an effective uninterrupted manner. I wanted to share with you what I implemented and my thought process. Hopefully you find it helpful and informative as you consider your own work-from-home situation.

Here are a few things I’ve learned about working from home:

Video: It’s important to have high-quality video, especially if you are expected to participate in virtual meetings frequently.  I took my Mirrorless camera and wired it to be my web camera by using a capture card. This provides a sharp focus and better depth to the onscreen image giving a more personal feel to the virtual experience. If you don’t have a high-quality camera, there are a number of good quality webcams you can purchase for under $100. Logitech offers many choices depending upon your needs and your budget

Camera Position:  Always try to position the camera at eye level or slightly higher as this presents yourself much in the same way people would see you in person.  If the camera is lower, your viewers will see mostly your mouth or up your nose.

Lighting:  If you have ever had a professional photo taken, remember how they had the scene lit, typically it was very bright lights with some way of diffusing the light.  You can replicate this by using a desk or table lamp with a white shade and a high wattage light bulb (>60-watt equivalent) in the “Bright White” color spectrum.  Optimally you would position the light source(s) to the left or right of your camera.

Microphone: Sound quality is crucial.  I did research on a variety of microphones that easily can connect to my computer through the USB port.  I selected the Samson G Track Pro that is user friendly and can regulate the mic sensitivity to not pick up background noise. My colleagues now joke that I sound like I am the host of a radio show.  While this may be a bit over the top, try to make sure that you have as good of microphone as you can for your budget.  If you have a noisy environment look for a microphone with a noise cancelation feature.

Internet Access:  We depend so much on internet connectivity these days!  If you can plug directly into your router that will be your best option for both speed and reliability.  If you need to use WIFI, make sure your router is placed on a table possibly in the middle of your home.  If you have a big living space, consider a mesh router as it can help to minimize WIFI dead zones.

Best Practices: Have a routine, make sure you are not inadvertently working 24/7 now that you are at home. Even if you have to log in during the evenings or weekends because you are juggling child care during the day, be sure to maintain a schedule as much as possible and communicate it to your colleagues to ensure that they are aware of when you can be reached and when you are unavailable.

Work/Life Balance:  When it is time to turn off, do so. Disconnect from your email and be sure to turn on a Do Not Disturb on your work email app.  If you don’t conduct personal business during business hours why would you conduct business during your personal hours?

Some of these changes/adjustments may be able to improve your work from home experience.  It has been great seeing clients even if it is virtually.  The virtual meetings have been more engaging than just being able to speak over the phone.

These changes have been difficult since they were thrust so quickly upon us all. But with advanced technology and our shared experiences, we can take this as an opportunity to better connect with each other and make those connections as personable as possible.

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