For Those Now or Soon Facing Working at Home
Changes in How We Work & Seek Coping Solutions with Corona Virus Stresses & Risks
Make Calls Over Wi-Fi
Does your ‘new’ home office have spotty cellular connectivity? Verizon, AT&T and all the other U.S. carriers offer Wi-Fi calling, which allows you to make calls over your wireless network with your phone number. In fact, testing a while back showed that call quality was great over Wi-Fi. On the iPhone, you can enable Wi-Fi calling by going to Settings > Cellular > Wi-Fi Calling. On Android, go to Settings > Networks & Internet > Mobile network > Advanced > Wi-Fi Calling. If this trick doesn’t work for you, you could also try a cellular signal booster.
Position Your Webcam Smartly
Since we are all on video chat now, just remember: Keep a light source on your face (try to avoid sitting with a window behind you.) Frame your head and shoulders in the shot (keep the camera lens at or above eye level—and use a cardboard box to prop up the laptop if necessary.) Lift your head up…your chin will thank you. Finally, grab a microfiber cloth and wipe off the lens from time to time.
Kill Notifications During Chats
During video calls—especially if you are sharing screens—no one wants to see your notifications or hear those dings and rings. So - MUTE! In Windows 10, go to System > Notifications & Actions and turn them off. On MacOS 10.8 Mountain Lion or later, click the three lines in the top right corner, then swipe down, then turn on Do Not Disturb. Just don’t forget to turn your notifications back on once the call is over.
Slack Like a Pro
Don’t let Slack rule your life. Starring your most important chats and channels (top left) puts them at the top of your sidebar, so you don’t have to dig. Enable notifications for them by tapping the gear icon, then Notification Preferences. (Also adjust your overall notification settings in Preferences.) To jump between conversations, hit Ctrl-K (Cmd-K on Macs). Forgetting important messages? Click three dots on a message and hit “Remind me about this.”
Fix Your Wi-Fi
Having Wi-Fi issues? Plug directly into your router with an Ethernet cable. Don’t like being tethered? Move your router to the center of the house to spread the signal. Choose the faster 5GHz network if possible. If your router is over five years old, get a new one. Consider a mesh network like Eero—it uses multiple nodes to kill dead zones.
Track Your Time
Ah, working from home, aka the black hole of time. Time-tracking apps such as Toggl and Clockify (for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and the web) let you count your minutes and hours, so you know when to quit or take a break. Input your projects and calls, then view a graph of where your time went. I prefer to go low tech, by writing it all down on a piece of paper.
Update Your Email Signature
You know where you aren’t reachable right now? That landline sitting in your ‘new office’. Update your email signature with the best place to reach you via mobile phone and chat services, like Slack, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, etc. Link your contacts to all that you and they utilize. Add a little note like “Currently WFH; reach me at [Insert info here].” In Gmail, click the gear icon, then Settings, then scroll down to the signature. In Outlook, go to File > Options > Mail > Signatures.
Author: Joanna Stern – 3-24-20 - WSJ’s Stern offers fixes and advice on Tech frustrations. Visit WSJ daily Tech News Briefing podcast