Work From Home: Work From Home Training

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

And the series continues. I guess because I have A Lot Of Thoughts on this.

Me, I’ve worked from home (WFH) a lot, and I’ve had friends who have done it for over a decade. We’ve got certain work from home skills and abilities, that we probably don’t see as we’re used to them. I realized that recently, and it came to me that as we do more WFH people will need training to do it – and people probably aren’t ready.

How many of us actually are skilled at working from home? Because, in a world where WFH is comparatively rare, it means some of us lack the skillset – yes it’s a skillset.

Consider what WFH Skills include:

  • Time management on your own. Not as easy when you’re remote.
  • Phone etiquette and phone technology. Look, do we even use our phones for calls? When is it time to just text?
  • Proper use of chat programs as you can’t swing by desks. I’m talking not just sending messages, but replying.
  • Proper use of email as folks need to rely on it more (and trust me, a lot of us are terrible at it).
  • Proper use of tools for collaboration like Jira, Rally, and such. Those are even more vital for collaboration.
  • Use of documentation tools and proper use of documentation. Being able to hand someone a document is great for communication, but not if your writing is horrible.
  • Business processes and the like – because you can’t yell over your cube to ask someone “how do I do this?”
  • The psychology and manners of working from home.

Even typing that list i feel both exhausted and appreciative of those with good work from home skills. I’m sure you could write books on the skills, or run classes. Speaking of . . .

Organizations will need to ensure people are trained for WFH. The skills above need to be acquired by folks for any organization that wants or needs more WFH. These need to be learned intentionally; we’re in a rapid shift, and you can’t just hope people pick it up over time.

Note I say Organizations plural – because even in the post covid age, there will be more WFH for everyone. The business you work for will need this training, sure. But this will also be your church or temple, the con you do cosplay events for, and maybe even your gaming group. Every organization out there needs to be ready to teach people how to work from home.

This also means that there will be a whole new range of opportunities for people to write, teach, and educate. We’ll need guides and consulting services and people to teach work from home. Organizations will need to develop ways to improve WFH processes – or hire people that do. In fact, this might be a great chance for you to share your WFH knowledge with others!

But we’re going to need to train people to WFH, everywhere, and provide that education. This may be a bigger shift than people are ready for – but being ready is something we’ll need to be. WFH is here, there will be more, and in an age of climate change and pandemic, we’ll need to adapt.

It’s time to get educated.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Work From Home Findings: The Dam Bursts

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I’ve been writing about Work From Home (WFH) a lot lately. You see a post here a week as I discuss my thoughts and findings. But it’s not just here I’m talking about it.

It’s a subject at work because, you know, pandemic.

It’s a subject among friends, as we’re almost all working from home.

It’s a subject at home as my girlfriend is dealing with it too.

And I realized I, the geek job guru, the WFH advocate, am tired of talking about working from home. It’s all over, it’s everywhere, it’s exhausting. So why am I not thrilled we’re discussing it?

We first of all, there’s the entire damn pandemic. It’s a pretty awful time to discuss it, as well as all the other awful stuff in the world.

But I realized it’s because it’s like a damn bursting, it’s an overload. Suddenly, because of the pandemic, we’re having to cope with WFH fast.

So now suddenly all our years of theories and ideas and experience are compressed into less than a year.

So now all of our repressed desires to discuss it erupt out.

So now we’ve got to adapt so fast and so quickly it’s hard.

The dam has burst. Years of tweaking WFH, or maybe talking about it, of doing a little bit weren’t enough. So here we are in a disaster we could be ready for, adapting fast, applying lessons from decades in a year, and going “I told you so” a lot.

There’s a lesson in this.

Look, by my best estimates we’re stuck doing this until March 2021, probably July. We’re then going to deal with a world post-pandemic, with vaccines and new protocols and the like. We’re going to be worn and tired.

In this time, its important we apply these lessons, but also to go easy on ourselves. Because this is not just a hard time, we’re overwhelmed with all the stuff we have to do for WFH, and we’re tired.

So apply the lessons, but apply the vital ones first.

Use the techniques we have, but don’t beat yourself up over doing them perfectly.

Move to WFH, but understand people can’t do everything and times are tough, and it’s not perfect.

Finally, accept that during a freaking pandemic none of us are at 100%. Hell, some of us are operating at 120% and we’d like to slow down.

The dam burst. All our ideas and maybes about WFH exploded into life fast because we had to use them, during a disaster. Go easy on yourself and on everyone.

It’s not like we’re going anywhere, sadly.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Work From Home Findings: Workplace Social Events

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

There’s also social events at workplaces. Some of us enjoy them, some of us hate them, but they’re a reality. If we work from home, these are going to change.

Now before I go on, this is colored by personal opinions. I’m not a fan of “work socializing” as I’ve usually seen it done wrong – contrived, forced, and unsocial. However when it’s done right, as part of a functional culture, it’s pretty beneficial. My take is that when you do it, it should come OUT of work time – don’t take time out of people’s non-work time, and don’t force it.

So, part of this post is going to be colored by those opinions. Fortuantely, I think I’m right.

So here’s a few things we need to do with workplace socialization in Work From Home (WFH).

I know I said this above, but let me reiterate it – if you throw work social events, they should usually come out of work time. WFH makes time, schedules, and travels unclear – so make sure to preserve the work/life distinction by not chipping into “life” time.

However beyond healthy work/life balance, this provides another advantage – having workplace social events come out of work time allows for clear planning and scheduling. You know when something is happening, its work impacts, and can plan for them. This clarity helps the whole WFH things.

Don’t just throw a party because you always have. Don’t just do a conference because you always have.

Ask what your goals are for these new events. You may find your goals don’t align with what you do now. You may find they’re quite worthy. You may find they have purpose and cancel them.

The best way to set goals is to talk to people and figure what they want. Don’t just enforce things or assume you know best. Instead try to find what helps people you work with.

Sure you never thought a company RPG session was a thing you needed, but it may well be.

WFH and having work social events also requires you to choose appropriate methods. This isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Do you do a virtual event? Those are easy to set up and don’t require travel. They also can be hard to run when you have 100 people and add to online meeting fatigue.

Do you do in-person? That can be great especially with WFH – it’s a chance to get out of the house or your office! It’s also a chance to do something different. But that requires scheduling, planning, and possibly excluding people who can’t make it.

Do you do a mixed in-person and virtual? That’s great but requires good planning and coordinating.

There is no ideal method. It depends on your goals and situation, so be open to it.

You’ve probably seen the same Christmas party, birthday party, and classes at work. Well if we’re going to WFH more why not try something new? This is a chance to do work events that are different.

A few things I’ve seen:

  • Virtual happy hours. All you need is Zoom and a beer.
  • Virtual meals. Like the above but w=probably with less alcohol.
  • Movie and TV watching. Be it streaming or just running the same film and chatting it can be a lot of fun.
  • Virtual games. There’s plenty of options for virtual gaming.
  • Mini-outings. Having time for small social events among teams, not one unified one, allows for more personal focus. I’ve had fond times going to restaurants with my teams.

This a chance to experiment!

I repeat this in many a blog post, but trust me – share ideas for how to do work social events in these times of WFH. We’re all kind of trying to figure what to do right now, so swapping ideas is necessary.

At some point we’ll probably have all sorts of scholarly papers and advice books on what to do and what works. We’re just now there now – but by swapping ideas we can build a body of knowledge. In fact, your efforts might lead to help people handle WFH and work events better.

You might even become the expert on the subject.

As I said I’m not always a fan from work social events, but that’s as I’ve seen them done poorly. Right now in the age of the Pandemic, of WFH and enforced WFH, we can change things for the better. We might as well anyway, we’re sort of stuck here.

But we don’t have to be alone.

Steven Savage