From our inception (think start-up in a garage), Repfabric has been “remote-work enabled”.  We have tried many different tools, and conducted thousands of webinars over our history.  As your customers, your engineers, contractors and so on also work from home, we want to share the best practices we’ve found to communicate live with remote customers and prospects.  These tips will help you as efficient and effective as you, too, work from home.

Prepare your Space

Probably the most important aspect of working from home is to prepare a specific space that is your “office”.   As a master of the obvious, even if you don’t have an office or spare bedroom, choose a location within your house that minimizes distractions (kids yelling, dogs barking, TVs blaring, etc).  Also keep in mind that you want a crisp separation of work time and home time, so you don’t feel like you are working around the clock.   A kitchen nook, a desk in the den, the basement bar, but probably not the couch in front of the TV will work.

If you plan to sell via webinar to your customers, use VIDEO!  As it relates to your space selection, choose a space with a clean backdrop for your video camera.   Avoid the busy book shelf, basement clutter, pictures of the in-laws, or kitchen cabinets in the background that distract your viewers.   Microsoft Teams, and most other tools, allow you to blur your backdrop, so this may not be a consideration depending on the tools you use.

Lighting matters.   Not only for the well known effects on your mood and eyestrain, lighting has big impacts on Video webinars.  Invest in desktop lamps that highlight your face if a bright window is behind you.   You are not being interviewed as a confidential informant for the FBI, with face dark, voice scrambled.   Buy a separate video camera (many of which have extension arms) to mount just above your eye level if your laptop camera angle doesn’t make you look like the star that you are.

Another effective method to professionalize your video webinar image is to use your trade show booth or banners as your backdrop for video meetings.   Great branding and the busy backdrop problem is solved.

Prepare yourself

OK Baller.  Get dressed for work.  Wake up in time to do this every day.  As elegant as it sounds to be ultra-casual, don’t.   You simply won’t be in the right head space for work.   When you get that return phone call from the VP of Engineering at your big customer and you have 15 seconds to make your pitch and catch his interest, do you really want to have Einstein hair, a greasy face and a sleeveless Motley Crue shirt on?   You are cutting your chances by not having as much confidence as you would looking your best.   Take a shower, and get dressed in the morning just as if you were going to the office.   Get your coffee, sit down at your desk, and begin.  And bring a few snacks because otherwise you will be raiding the pantry every hour for a distraction.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Though it never replaces in person meetings, the use of your image and ability to simulate eye contact and body language with your teammates and prospects has been proven in studies to be 5 times more effective in team performance.  We reps talk about, “people buy from people” (not the dark image squares on a webinar).  So use video.    Get over it.  Just do it.

It will be a little unnerving at first, but start with internal meetings to get comfortable.  If anything, the first attempts to do this with your teammates will get some great laughs.    Understand that your video presence will, in effect, be your brand and major selling tool while the COVID-19 pandemic forces us to socially distance from our customers.   Help one another if a teammate’s video feed leaves a lot to be desired – don’t you hate it when no one tells you that you have food on your face!

Also, from our experience, video tends to humanize internal disagreements.   When you are looking at someone and they are looking at you, tempers are measured and conversations produce results, just as if you were in the same room together.

Equip Well

Another important aspect of working from home effectively is to equip yourself as well or better than your office.   If you have two monitors at the office, have two monitors of similar sizes at home.   For an investment of ~$120, you can buy a 24″ monitor that is effective for work tasks from the electronics outlets of your choice.  We run LG’s here.   Many of our techies have better “rigs” at home, and prefer to work there because of their better displays.

Consider your ergonomics too.   Have a comfortable, supportive chair, not the plastic white lawn chair from the garage.  Consider the stand-up desk or move to a bar-height table for a few hours (ponied up to the bar is what most reps are good at anyway, right?)

Finding your groove that allows you to multi-task at rep speed is the key.   Our time and our sales capabilities are our super powers.   So let’s unleash them when our world needs them most!

–  John Mitchell

P.S. Our next article will catalog the tools we have used and continue to use today for remote work collaboration.