ANNOUNCEMENT: Most spring 2021 classes will once again be offered online/remotely. Learn more about the spring 2021 semester.
Whether this is what you signed up for, or is what you are NOW signed up for, this is an opportunity to develop practices and habits to help you succeed both in school and at work. The vast majority of us are going to be studying/working at home. Many will be sharing spaces for more time per day, and/or in closer proximity to family/roommates, than ever before. This “remote,” yet intimate, arrangement commands different skills, heightened etiquette and civility, and behavioral changes for the best chance of success.
1. First and foremost – BE KIND! This means be kind to yourself, your instructor/employer and your peers. You will see this reflected in many of the following points! This situation is new for many in the workplace as well as at school.
2. Set a schedule. You would do this if you were on-ground – the time in the office, classroom or library. Make sure that you schedule the time you need when working/studying from home. Take breaks and
get up and walk around!!
3. Set a routine – clear beginning/clear ending. This will, of course, not look the same for everyone. What time do you start work/study? Get a shower, a cup of coffee and plow right in? Have breakfast, take the dog for a walk, and begin answering email? How do you end? Stop answering work email, switch off D2L and don’t get back on. Make sure, in your own mind, that you know when you are at work, and when you are not.
4. Lay out clear expectations to those in your household. Easier said than done, right? If
possible, set up a dedicated workspace, or a “time-away” from others. Try different
tactics, such as a simple drawing of a clock, “Mom is out, will return at…” may stave off
interruptions. Be KIND – Be PATIENT! This is a new situation, and it may take some trial
and error to find out what works FOR EVERYONE!
5. Make sure that you have the technology needed, and that it works before you have to use it. If scheduled for a video/audio conference or meeting, check the day before and the morning of. When using video, check camera position, angle and lighting. Use a headset if noise is a problem on your end. If scheduled to submit an online quiz or essay, finish early enough so that if any tech stuff happens, you may contact I.T. to get help well BEFORE the due date. Ask for help when you need it.
6. Speaking of I.T. – BE NICE TO I.T.!!! When a problem occurs, provide as much information as possible. Let them know what you were doing at the time the problem occurred, and what errors showed on the screen, providing screen shots when necessary. It is best that you always make request politely with “please” and “thank you!” CCA’s I.T. Dept. is exemplary, but small. Be patient. In remote employment consider this: your company’s I.T. makes it possible for you to have this position in the first place – they make it possible for you to GET PAID. Wouldn’t you want to make them your best friend?
7. Read your employee/STUDENT email and check D2L once per day. Everything from this point forward will come to you either via student email or in D2L, or from your work email. If work is allowing you to use a personal email, make sure you have set up an account with a professional email address.
8. Be professional in ALL communication. In emails and texts, use salutations and closing: “Hello employer/teacher’s name,” at beginning, and ‘your name’ at the end. Spell out all words – no text slang or abbreviations. Keep emojis to a minimum. In online audio/video meetings, don’t eat. If you must, you may want to Mute or turn camera off. Be sure to dress like you would for an in-person meeting.
9. Be Upbeat in ALL communications. In face to face interchanges, we have the chance to convey the underlying meaning of a message using facial expressions and body language. Not so in remote communications. Before hitting send, sit back and read again to make sure that the message looks professional and sounds friendly and caring.
10. Stay engaged; ask questions; make suggestions. Make all submissions on-time,
or better yet, EARLY! Participate in class and, when asked, give feedback. This is
harder for many people in remote situations. Look for opportunities to let
your employer/instructor know that you are interested in this job/subject
matter. Consider: Would you like your employer/instructor to hold the view
that you are a pleasure to manage/teach, or that they must track you down in
order to get work or answers?
11. Take responsibility. Ask for clarification or help. If you are having trouble understanding instructions, or don’t know where to find material, ask. You have the obligation to produce. Your employer/instructor may believe that the instructions given are perfectly clear, or the location of work documents is already known.
12. Stay social. There are all sorts of online platforms to set up work groups/study groups, so that you may still have the benefit of contact with those in the workplace/classroom. If you know that a colleague is having trouble with technology, volunteer to make contact and help! If you are having trouble, ask for help! How does it make you feel when you have helped out a friend? If you don’t ask and give someone the chance to help you, then you deprive that person of feeling warm and fuzzy and needed!
13. BE KIND! Did we say that before? There are going to be, literally, MILLIONS of people working/studying from home, and, consequently, there are going to be problems and frustrations. STAY positive – and always be ready to give someone a leg-up!
From University of Houston, UH Class OET, “Tips for Online Learning” Video (2:52)
We all hope you are adapting, truly appreciating your own capacities and treating yourselves well! We would like to speak to the small (or large) annoyances you may be facing in trying to carve out a little work/study time for yourselves. We have consulted some online resources – the links will follow later – as well as friends, mothers, fathers and roommates for what has worked for them. One thread that is common throughout all “Work-at-Home” advice is, “Formulate a schedule and stick to it.”
Now, that doesn’t mean that specific changes cannot be made within the plan to make it work out.
Start by considering:
1) How much time do I need to finish MY work/schoolwork
2) how can I match my needs with my children’s/housemate’s activities
3) how many breaks can I realistically expect to take within that time
4) is there anyone that I can split my responsibilities with? And once I have figured out what time I need, “How do I get my housemates to leave me alone?”
This will take at least 3 steps. 1) Communicate the expectation; 2) Use a visual and/or audio sign; 3) FOLLOW THROUGH.
1) COMMUNICATE: I MUST say to my partner, housemates or children: “When this happens, I am working, so please be quiet; then, when this other thing happens, I can give you some time.” Set up a poster board or white board or just a list on the fridge with the SCHEDULE for the day or week. Don’t take it for granted that saying it once, twice, or seventeen times, will “stick.”
2) For Younger and middle kids, and just to make it fun, make it VISUAL and/or AUDIO! Examples:
• Wear a work hat and a play hat. • Wear a headset or headphones. When they are on, you are working. • Throw a brightly colored towel over a chair for worktime and take it off when you are free. • Use an Hourglass. • Use a specific Work Chair or Area. • Set a picture of a clock, when dad is “out” and when dad is “in.” • Set up a “list book” for children old enough to write. If children have things that they MUST tell you, but you are unavailable, they can “list” them. Then when break-time actually comes, address each of the things on their list. • Sound an alarm or timer at the beginning and end of your “Work” period. • Have a specific song you play to herald in Free, Work, Kitchen, or Me time.
3) FOLLOW THROUGH and reward good behavior. Put another daily chart on the refrigerator or wall and ‘star” each work session that you actually get through uninterrupted. (Notice I did not say workday…let’s be real!) For every 5 stars, come up with a little “reward” where the kids get an extra story, or get to pick a game or the song you all sing when you are in your “play” hats. For younger kids, a simple dance around the room with you might be the best reward of all! Roommates are even harder to control than kids, but some of these hints might work for them too!
AND PLEASE BE KIND. Take that deep breath. This is not easy OR familiar for anyone. It will take some time to find out what works. If you have a suggestion, you may want to start a discussion in DL2. We would love to hear what you have to say, and what works or doesn’t work. You can even just vent!