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Remote Working

The wonderful world of remote working is made so much easier with today’s technology. Skype, Zoom, Gotomeeting, Google Hangouts, Facebook Live. Wherever you are, as long as you have some Wi-Fi you can talk to your colleagues, clients and buddies. It’s easy! Oh, so easy… to cock it up. Mostly skype is used an alternative to the phone in my world. You can share your screen and that makes it like working with someone, showing someone how to do stuff, what your problem is with some software, all that. Sometimes, people like to use the video. This is quite rare (because I avoid it like the plague!) and therefore throws me almost every time.

I have one client who always does a video call. I don’t think of myself as being particularly dim but I have struggled to remember this so much that I have now scheduled his calls after a networking meeting so that I am a) dressed, in actual clothes and not a PJ top and a manky cardi and b) wearing a bit of makeup with c) hair that is brushed. I also need to be at home ideally so I can control the environment as much as is possible. And I need to look behind me with the webcam to check the state of the office. I have dog with a bin fetish so I often end up with the bin on top of the printer, it doesn’t look great! It doesn’t look bad either just totally and completely weird. Other things to check before turning on the camera are the whereabouts of the dog, nothing sensitive or about other clients visible, no flip charts on the wall (“aims for the year – massive price increase, no knobhead clients, no flaky life coaches”), no tragic self-help books obvious on the bookshelf and obviously, blocking the view to my knickers drying on the suspended washing line is a good move.

See, you don’t have to fret about this kind of bollocks when you just rock up to your corporate office do you?

I also have to remind myself when on a video call that gestures can be seen! On audio meetings you can get away with a lot. I mean a lot. Painting your nails, knocking up a bit of soup – assuming you are only a partial attendee of course, wouldn’t recommend either of those with clients, paying attention is really quite key. But my point is, that on an audio you can, if needed, communicate with those around you. This might be a simple finger over the lips, shhh, or a quick hit of the mute button and a loud “Get OFF NOW and go in your bed” to the bloody menace of a dog when you can hear she’s somehow ended up in the kitchen sink having knocked the tap on and sent water bouncing in all directions off a baking tray, presumably whilst on her way to raid another bin on the work surface. Or, as one VA friend regaled, the old finger across the throat, glower and snarl technique at her kids who were playing up. And this is where it all falls down – she had the video on. So her client saw her facial expressions and the gesture and burst out laughing.

I am no better. Whilst on video (with brain in audio mode) I have had the menace dog climb on my lap, had the same dog chuck a rubber duck at me, left the room (really, it was a frigging interminable Google Hangout and I was busting for a wee, I have the bladder of a gnat and I really didn't think they'd miss me) and turned the sound off and waved frantically at my mum whilst shouting “mum, shhh, I‘m on a call with a client”. Said client did his best not to laugh and then confessed he could read my lips. I don’t work from my parents’ house any more after that incident. Or if I did, I’d probably lock myself in the loo to do a skype, it is hard enough to do alone in the house, let alone with other people!

Anyone else have a skype confession?

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