In the News: Navigating the New World of Working at Home

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I was interviewed by the Chaska Herald about working from home…

Navigating the new world of working at home

As the weeks pass, those still employed are getting used to working from home.

For many, it was an abrupt switch. COVID-19 quickly caused businesses to close and remaining workers to be productive in their homes.

Luckily, some say technology is making the change easier.

Chaska resident Greg Swan is no stranger to wired work. He currently heads the digital team at the Minneapolis advertising agency Fallon, and works with social engagement and PR for Brainjolt, a media publishing company based in California. Each week Swan blogs about trenching technologies.

He’s written about Zoom video communications and advice for virtual meetings — priming him for technology tips for those less apt to working from home.

But before he offers guidance, he wants to get one thing straight: let go of perfection. Our homes aren’t offices, and that’s OK.

“We all have kids or dogs or doorbells ringing. We’re all working from home. We’re all here,” Swan said. “It’s OK and you can laugh and acknowledge them, or you can also ignore them at this point. It’s so just a given now.”

NEW TECH WORK WORLD

Lots of people aren’t used to new tech-savvy expectations, and he said many are being thrown into a world they’re not used to. But again, he said perfection isn’t the goal.

Swan reminds folks to “give grace” to those people, maybe setting up a one-on-one meeting to walk those having difficulty through certain tools.

It’s even a change for Swan.

He’s been a digital marketer his entire career, but says he’s never been on camera this much and this often.

“I tend to want to multitask and not look at the camera or not worry as much about what’s in the background, and with a few small tweaks, it really changes the experience for you and everyone that you’re involved with online,” Swan said.

For Swan, an effective desk looks something like this: A carved out section of his bedroom for an “office,” experimenting with a standing desk, and a borrowed LED ring light from his daughter (for better video resolution and quality). He said the latter is especially helpful for those nights when putting work away before midnight isn’t an option.

Overall, Swan said there’s a few things everyone can do on video calls to make life easier for everyone.

Stay on mute while not talking, he said, and look directly at the camera while speaking — not at the screen. Another tip?

“Give nonverbal feedback,” Swan said. “Now that you’re on mute you can’t just say, ‘Uh huh,’ or, ‘Got it,’ every time so you need to nod and give a thumbs up and laugh.”

In the end, he said being able to work during this time isn’t anything to take for granted. Though there may be stressful bumps along the road, he said it’s important to remember the context of the situation.

“Compared to a lot of folks, those of us who can work from home — and are only inconvenienced by WiFi signals, crying kids, or barking dogs — really have it pretty well off,” Swan said.

“Working from home is a gift. But I have to say I can’t wait to get back into the office.”

What you can’t tell from the picture is that this is a tiny corner of my bedroom. We shoved the bed over, and I’ve carved out a little nook that you can’t tell from the camera is just a child’s desk in a corner of a 135 year-old house. It’s all a facade!

It’s at the end, but I also tried to stress in the interview was how fortunate I am to get the chance to work from home right now. 

What a 2020 it’s been so far!


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