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Best Practices for Your Virtual Office
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Best Practices for Your Virtual Office

Helpful tips to maximize your efficiency and communications while you’re working from home

After nearly two months of working from home, our staff at CFHoCo hums along as well as possible while we continually refine and improve our routines and internal and external communication strategies. We all can’t wait to get back together again on a daily basis in the office. But in the meantime, I thought I’d share some of the ways we’re managing during this crazy time and offer some virtual office tips that seem to work for us at CFHoCo.

Scanning without a scanner

If you need to scan documents at home and don’t have a scanner, try Adobe Scan on both Android and IOS phones.

Once installed you can scan a document and then use the share menu to email the document to yourself or others. Pro: It’s free and the quality is really, really good. Con: It’s fiddly to do a big volume of scans, especially multi-page documents.

Still, it’s free and a great way to get that signature page to the intended recipient.

Coordinating with the rest of your team: Slack

Old-timers like us remember how useful messenger apps like AOL Messenger and MSN Messenger could be. Applications like Slack let you bring that functionality to the office.

We set up channels in Slack to represent on-going conversations like #HCCRF for discussions specifically about the Howard County Community Relief Fund. For something like when I want to see if a certain grant check went out to a non-profit, I can post the question in #grantchecks. We even have one called #officesupplies and one labeled #random for off-topic water cooler conversations.

You can access Slack on the web, through a standalone application, or on your phone. And, yes, you can directly message someone on Slack just like we did on AOL Messenger in the 1900s.

Video Team Meetings

Ah, the age old question that generation after generation has eternally pondered: Zoom…. or Webex?

Back in late February we started investigating video conferencing options, and we went all-in on Cisco Webex. It’s a free platform, and it is easy to set up and implement. We established an office account for internal meetings and encouraged staff to set up personal accounts that make it easier to set up external meetings as they can control scheduling and invitations on their own.

Except for a few barking pets (and/or occasional family members) we have adopted Webex without a hitch.

Scam attempts

Be on guard for shenanigans now that you aren’t down the hall from your teammates.

Months ago, I got a request from our president asking me to buy gift cards. She was just down the hall, so it was odd that she’d send me an email with such an unusual request. Of course, it was a scam and small details (wrong sender email address, wrong tone, strange misspellings) set off alarm bells.

I imagine these scams are easier now that we aren’t working down the hall from our teammates. Be wary of scam attempts.

Voicemail

If you’re up-to-date, you probably have some kind of VOIP phone system so you can receive work voicemail and make work phone calls from home. But what if you don’t?

You can sign up for a free Google Voice account that will give you a new local phone number. Then you forward phone calls to the new number and access voicemails through the Google Voice portal. You can even install the Google Voice app on your phone and make phone calls using the app and the new Google Voice number.

Virtual happy hours

By now you have, I hope, set up regular phone or webcam conferences with your team to check in with one another. We do a virtual morning stand-up meeting with our team and it helps keep everyone in the loop with our daily work.

But are you accounting for non-work socializing?

We use Webex to schedule regular virtual happy hours just to catch up with one another “outside” of work. Sometimes we even screenshare trivia games. And there are many options other than Webex, like Discord, Zoom, MS Teams, and Skype.

Some people even do a virtual potluck at lunch or dinner.

Who knew that humans are social animals? This is one way to address that. Spouses, partners, friends – anyone is welcome to join and socialize. Figure out what’s best for you and start (re)socializing.

Hope some of these tips are as useful to you as they have been to us during the quarantine.. Please know that even though our office is closed to the public, our team at CFHoCo continues to plug away at our mission to inspire lifelong giving and to connect people, places and organizations to worthy causes across Howard County and beyond. Do not hesitate to reach out via phone (410.370.7840) or email.

Yours,

Jay

Jay A. Vidyarthi

Operations Manager

Community Foundation of Howard County

p: 410.730.7840 ext. 3

e: jvidyarthi@cfhoco.org

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