How You Can Avoid Common Remote Work Fails

How You Can Avoid Common Remote Work Fails

If you haven’t yet personally witnessed or committed some common remote work fails, know that you’re still not immune. These can strike at almost any time, and when they do, they can turn you into a meme, or worse, fast.

The most likely mess-ups that you might encounter will of course involve technology; sadly, this means they are likely not always within your control. Yet there are a number of ways to prevent them from ever happening.

Following are some ways to avoid some common remote work fails:

Examine yourself and your surroundings.

Those who work from home have more control over their surroundings than the roving wanderers of the digital nomad or cafe-based remote worker variety, who must take into account others’ conversations and ambient noise.

If you’re at home and anticipating a video chat, ensure that you have a quiet workspace and can secure the door. Nothing odd behind you? Check. No parsley in your teeth? Check. No potential for a marching toddler/rolling baby barging in? Fabulous. What about a howling dog or meowing cat? (You see where I’m going here.) Be aware of your 360-degree work area and adjust as necessary.

Check your connection.

Spotty Wi-Fi has been known to make for highly misunderstood conversations, and those awkward delays could mean you’re chuckling at an unfortunate moment. Worse than that, you might miss your chance to negotiate, offer key insights, or report on a critical project.

Whether you’re at your place, a relative’s, a nearby coworking spot, or your favorite cafe, be sure that you’ve got a strong Internet connection or decent cell reception at least 30 minutes before kicking off that important remote meeting. If it’s less than stellar, consider relocating.

Refrain from making faces.

You might be a savvy pro who’s aware of micro-expressions and how they can be a dead giveaway of your sincere feelings about something. But what about those expressions that last longer than a split second? Let’s face it: technology will embarrass us all at some point—it’s only a matter of time.

Some of the most hilarious screenshots I’ve ever taken have been of teammates’ unfortunately frozen expressions during a video call. (I didn’t circulate these to others without their permission, of course.) If you’re an especially dramatic speaker, know that making a face can backfire on you when on video. Like all of our mothers and grandmothers used to say: go ahead and do it, but it may get stuck that way.

Verify your volume.

You just dialed in; did anyone acknowledge your arrival to the call? At times like these, it’d be smart to do a quick, “Hey, everyone! Can you hear me OK?” check. Then quickly mute yourself out of courtesy to your colleagues or clients. (Even quieter sounds like paper rustling, coffee sipping, and typing can be distracting.)

If nature calls—as it occasionally can—flush at your own peril. Regarding weather variations, be forewarned: standing outdoors in an especially windy or popular spot may require shouting over the noise.

Prepare enough power.

Just beneath Wi-Fi on the hierarchy of remote worker needs is battery life. You don’t want to experience a shutdown in the middle of a brilliant moment of coding or salient point on a phone call. If your laptop or cell phone typically run out of juice while you’re away from your home base, have a power cord and spare charger at the ready, along with any necessary wall adapters. Knowing where you can find electricity outlets (or even just where you’re likely to find them—say a coffee shop or library) can help immensely.

If something like the above happens to you, don’t panic: there are ways to recover from remote work fails. With the right amount of planning and foresight, however, you can ensure that you don’t encounter these issues.

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By Kristi DePaul | April 4, 2018 | Categories: Work Remotely

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