As we have all become increasingly tech-savvy, there is an increasing array of tips and tricks to work smarter and faster remotely. This is important because research indicates the way we view telework may impact both mood and productivity.
Mood Is the New Modem
Many of us grew up with the now-infamous computer modem, which allowed us to connect to the internet over a phone line. Now, we have far easier options, but maximizing the quality of our virtual interaction requires the right mindset and mood. Consider how advance preparation can facilitate remote virtual work, both physically and mentally.
Most of us are familiar with Zoom fatigue, which researchers found results from workers feeling psychologically depleted by the volume of video meetings, video meetings that are not beneficial, and those that detract from the time and energy needed to perform other professional and personal responsibilities (Betty J. Johnson and J. Beth Mabry (2022)).[i] Johnson and Mabry explain these factors apparently create a sense of diminished well-being, manifest through emotional exhaustion. But if you travel tech-smart, you may have an entirely different view of remote life. Here are a few tips and tricks for making remote work easier on the road.
1. Pack an electronic “go-bag.” In addition to your suitcase, virtual nomads should have an equipment bag specific to remote work. The digital survivalist will stock their go-bag with all of the necessary devices and power cords, flash drives, hot spots, and any remote keyboard or mouse equipment.
2. Camera-ready at arm’s length. Remote workers must always be ready to hop into virtual space at all times. That means always wearing a potential “Zoom shirt,” and having all necessary hair and makeup needs within arm’s reach in case of an emergency meeting. (These should also be in the go-bag.) Proximity promotes productivity and professionalism, by allowing you to focus on your virtual presence, not your appearance.
3. The seduction of space. Remote workers or travelers looking for a temporary home base must have space. What goes in the space? Ideally, as little as possible. Less is more here because clutter confines, and space soothes. So when traveling, select a hotel, apartment, or condo that is clean and uncluttered, for maximum work performance.
4. Connection, connection, connection. Keyboard warriors must be dialed in—20 years ago I would have said “literally” with a phone connection, but now it is usually over Wi-Fi. This means you must have a strong internet connection at all times, including on planes, trains, and automobiles, and everywhere in between. If this is the way you live, invest in a high-powered hot spot that goes everywhere with you; and don’t forget the power cord. Phones that double as hot spots can be used also, in order to add redundancy to the routine, ensuring constant connection.
5. Always be streaming. In today’s post-pandemic tech-savvy world, you won’t find teleworkers in old-school conference rooms; they are in Zoom rooms. Sure, they still use electronic text, but a modern workday requires a high-speed connection strong enough to stream, not just use email. When meetings overlap, some people may have to be briefly present in two virtual platforms at one time, which requires different browsers and audio settings in order to pull this off (trust me, it can be done).
Preparing yourself as a traveling hot spot/mobile unit in advance can not only revolutionize the way you feel about remote work but lessen any accompanying anxiety that you won’t be able to “pull it off.” Preparation promotes productivity, and confidence promotes competence. Now you are ready to ask for the Zoom link.