Archive for the ‘Personal Development’ Category

How I survived a year of Working From Home!

April 16, 2021

Many of us have a variation on the story now, but in March of 2020 I found myself working from home as a full-time employee for the first time. I make the full-time distinction as I had worked for myself and on my own terms for a few years, but this was different.

Or was it?

In actuality it turned out that the lessons and good habits I had developed prior to re-joining full-time about 6 years ago, were very much still applicable.

When we decamped to our home workspaces in March of 2020 “for a few weeks” we weren’t to know what a paradigm shift it would be. At Fuzion, we had to hit the ground running as some of our clients became extra-busy, especially our design clients, so there wasn’t a lot of time to adapt. Luckily there were some quick hacks that could be applied to make for a productive and positive work from home situation. Here are some of my favourite tips that allowed me to survive and thrive in a year of WFH.

Segregate your work and home life, even if just in your head.

After all, how do you avoid bringing work home, when you work from home? Little mind-hacks can be a great help. For example, you can create a home mood or a work mood, through use of light and sound. I’ve back-lit my Mac, which is only on during work hours and I have taken our Fuzion Design favourite radio station BBC Six Music with me, which I only play during work hours.

After all, Techno Tuesday is great for focus and it just may save your life. When it’s time to stop, the Mac goes off, the lights change and I swap the radio for a playlist or TV.

A Good Workspace is Key.

Many of us kicked off last March on sofas or at kitchen tables. Try and avoid this, get a desk that you can keep just for work. Use a comfortable chair, that you can roll away at end of day. Pay attention to ergonomics as you’ll be sitting there 8 hours a day. Keep your workspace minimalist and uncluttered, distraction free. Apply the same to anything in your peripheral vision, if you can.

Remember to Stand.

Your back will thank you and your focus will thank you. Heck, if you have to, do as Haruki Murakami said and Dance, Dance, Dance. Especially if it’s techno Tuesday. Who’s to stop you? (Magic Carpet Ride by the Mighty Dub Katz is on the radio as I type, be right back).

Choose to Commute.

Take a walk in the morning or the evening straight after work. As much as you might think you don’t miss a commute, the post-work exercise helps reset your brain. Take a camera with you so that you’re always watching out for a good photo and engaged with and interested in your environment, even if you walk it every day. That’ll also help you stretch your eyes after a day of staring at a screen. Some days do the route in reverse! Every bit helps.

Keep good work practices.

Filing, admin, communication. Manage and track your time, keep notes to mitigate the COVID brain fog. Use tools that suit your new work environment. Whether for note taking, collaboration or file transfer. Don’t have a NAS server? Use Google or Dropbox or other collaborative file sharing tools to ensure that your shared files remain in a central location and are always up to date.

Have a department chat group or Slack (we use Google Chat). It’s great for quick questions or a bit of idle chit chat (not to be underestimated).

Get up, get dressed!

Get dressed for work every day, even if you’re only going to be seen on Zoom. If you have to plan what to wear the night before, you’ll instantly feel organised the next morning. Pride in your appearance is great for instilling some positivity and good for your mental health. The ritual of getting ready is familiar and helps you get in a work frame of mind. Don’t worry too much about dress code, but dress in a way that makes you feel good and ready to have a good day.

Watch your breaks

Have a good breakfast and stick to your lunch breaks. Taking breaks is important, even if to stand up and step out of the room. Don’t overdo the breaks either, remember you are at work and if you’re a designer too, you’ll know it ruins that sense of flow we so often need.

Don’t be a hermit

Network, stay in touch with peers, whether via social media or otherwise. Use organised feeds to ensure you’re getting enough good news and inspiration. Avoid doom-scrolling on social media by making lists that you can check in on. If you’ve to catch up with a colleague, take a few minutes extra and do it by video, studies have shown the positive effects of that level of human engagement (see wired article TBC). Even a short DM chat to touch base with a colleague can help your team grow.

Make time for the team. At Fuzion we have a semi-formal Monday morning catch up and briefing. At week’s end it’s Fuzion Friday – which is as informal as you get and a nice way to finish your week. When you’re out for a walk, arrange to meet a friend for a coffee or a chat, even just to feel normal. Especially if you live alone. Just because you’re WFH doesn’t mean you have to be be a hermit.

Be flexible.

For some people. Standard office hours won’t always work when you’re at home. Small people (children) and home life can interrupt. Plan your work when it’s practical, even if that’s earlier in the morning or later into the evening. Enjoy the flexibility, rather than fighting against it.

Take pride in achieving that balance.

Sh!t Happens

Remember, sh!t happens and it’s rarely the end of the world. If the server goes down, your Zoom will only show you as a cat, or a colleague can’t find files at the last second, don’t sweat it. You’re all doing brilliantly. We ARE all in it together. Stay positive. Positivity is contagious.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk!

Mark

Mark Kenny is a Senior Graphic Designer, part of the Graphic Design team with Fuzion Communications who provide a full print and digital design from offices in Dublin and Cork.

Why is having a sense of purpose so important?

March 15, 2021
Joe Caslin - IACP Mural

Why is having a sense of purpose so important?

What is ‘purpose’ and why is having one so important? Purpose can be described as the reason for which something exists or is done, made, or used.

To me, I don’t think anyone has a set purpose for their whole life, I think it changes throughout our lifetime, naturally changing as our life ebbs and flows. I see purpose as both striving to achieve a goal and a specific outcome but also enjoying the journey while you’re on it, working towards something but enjoying what you hope you will someday achieve.

Working on your ambitions and personal goals while also potentially changing the lives of other people, is one of the reasons I enjoy what I do. Feeling like the work you do has a purpose and a meaning is one of life’s greatest joys.

I’m a strong believer in manifesting what you want in life, and last year, when I began my journey with Fuzion I wrote down a goal of mine; to work with a mental health organisation. Being a big advocate for mental health myself, I wanted to feel as though I was doing some good and helping others as much as I could in my day-to-day life; any little part I could play.

Joe Caslin - IACP Mural

When we got to pitch to work with the IACP I knew it was an account I had to work on.

Working alongside them last year and launching their national ‘Look After Yourself‘ campaign was one of the highlights of my year. From team brainstorms to reaching out to strangers, with notes in their door to see if we could put a mural on the side of their house (we’ll do anything to get the job done, us PR folk!) to reaching out to Joe Caslin and seeing his vision of the campaign come to life in a mural on Montague Lane in Dublin was an exceptional moment for me and no doubt my Fuzion colleagues too.

This campaign sought to shine a light on men’s mental health, to break the stigma surrounding toxic masculinity and to encourage young men to see therapy as something they shouldn’t be ashamed of doing, and instead encourage each other to seek help if they need it.

There is no shame in asking for help, and although there is still a lot of work left to be done to break the stigma of therapy, we do hope this campaign started a conversation and even encouraged one person to seek help.

Not only did this campaign, I hope, help others but it also helped me achieve my sense of purpose. I would consider working on this campaign not only a highlight for me but the most noteworthy moment in my career thus far and I plan to be talking about it for years to come!

Michelle Harrison , Fuzion Communications

Michelle

Michelle Harrison is part of PR team at Fuzion Communications, working from our Dublin office

Choose to Challenge – International Women’s Day

March 8, 2021

International Women's Day - Choose to Challenge

On international Women’s Day 2021, there is a particular theme that was calling women to action with a very proactive ask, “Choose to Challenge” which came with an explanation:

A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change – So let’s all choose to challenge!

With this “call to action” there were some other specific asks of women as outlined further in the IWD website:

How will you help forge a gender equal world?

  • Celebrate women’s achievement.
  • Raise awareness against bias
  • Take action for equality.

Within Fuzion we encourage a challenging environment for all of the team, which is part of our core values, Bravery.

In every job description that we write, you will see it written and to us it is an important attribute, every bit as important as the basic skill sets required for each role.

We challenge each other, our opinions, our views and our ideas and we will challenge our clients to think differently and not to be afraid to disagree when we believe something is going in a wrong direction – you get that with us!

So, with all of that in mind I asked the team to record an episode of the Win Happy podcast to mark this years International Women’s Day, to discuss the theme and the different elements and to see how they felt about them.

For the record, I did offer to pass the hosting duty to anyone else and in the spirit of Fuzion, everyone, male and female were invited to participate but due to workload issues (and maybe a little shyness!) this episode featured Dee (Deirdre Waldron), Suzanne Meade and Niamh Lawlor who are all part of our Communications team.

The conversation was really interesting and revealing.

The team loved the “bold” call to action and spoke about how women can often be more reluctant than men to challenge.

They spoke about emotional leadership, a huge strength that women can bring to any organisation, Dee’s work and initiatives as President of Network Ireland, the huge role of mothers and friends as influencers, that men should be part of the conversation and not excluded, and thankfully they have not experienced bias in their careers.

However, they did acknowledge that the industry that we operate in might lend itself to that.

It makes for good listening.

Click on the link here or search for Win Happy on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts – we will be there!

For the record, some of the very best people that I work with are women and if I thought for a second that they were not prepared to challenge there would be something very wrong.

Just this morning on our weekly “hello” Monday morning team Zoom call, we had a very robust conversation about an opinion that I shared and they came at me in force!!

….if I told you what it was, I could have a busy day getting nothing done except arguing!

So today, I salute the brilliant women that I work with and the many brilliant women that I deal with on an ongoing basis. In particular, I salute my mum who is just incredible, such a positive driving force – you have no idea!

#ChooseToChallenge 

(you won’t find me wanting!)

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Body Image: The Covid-19 edition

September 17, 2020

Body Image

At the start of Lockdown I set myself loads of goals including trying to lose ten pounds in two weeks and dropping a dress size in one month.

When these inevitably didn’t work I challenged myself to drink 4 litres of water everyday and I got into a really bad habit of weighing myself everyday, hoping the scales would shift the tiniest bit to fuel my ego.

With so much idle time at home with nowhere to go and nobody to see, the only thing that seemed worth focusing on was bettering myself, and by that I mean my exterior, safe to say I wasn’t trying to improve my mindset!

All this extra time amounted to excess screen time. Endless scrolling through false realities, “Lockdown Glowups”, home workouts and low calorie meals was so damaging to thousands of girls/boys/women/men exactly like me.

TikTok was spitting out exercise videos at me as well as “two week transformations” with amazing results.

As Lockdown was such an isolating experience for everybody, we spent quite a lot of time with our thoughts: What you might have thought about yourself for a split second in February just got heightened by 1000% in April. Suddenly MyFitnessPal felt like my only pal.

To pass the day I spent my time entering the bowl of fruit I ate for breakfast into a calorie calculating app that constantly notified me that I didn’t weigh myself this morning and to “Jump On The Scales!”. The constant restrict-binge cycle was exhausting, but it was okay because my favourite “influencers” said it happens to them all the time (sarcasm intended!).

So as if people weren’t going through enough hardship with a global pandemic and all the frills that come with that, we were given mixed messages regarding health and fitness advice every day; There was – work from home, but don’t sit down all day, get out and exercise – but make sure it’s in your 5km radius and you should have no contact with others.

While at the same time we were bombarded with banana bread recipes, homemade cocktail ingredients and of course that thing that happened in the middle of all this that nobody seems to remember, Easter and those delicious yet deadly hollow brown eggs!!

After a few months had passed and the “new normal” had set in, the calorie counting stopped.

Safe to say at least 100 of the accounts I used to follow online have gotten a big unfollow from me, because they weren’t there for me when I slipped up -They were still drinking kale smoothies and getting their ten thousand steps everyday, while I faced my second serving of carbs that morning.

I asked myself, why would you follow someone who makes you feel bad about yourself?

I’ve learned that you can be healthy without weighing out your spinach, and I’ve learned that I don’t need to look like those girls we see all over our feeds, because that’s how they make their living and I just want to focus on living.

Be careful with who and what you follow..

Heather LordanHeather

Heather Lordan is a PR intern with Fuzion Communications, a full service PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in both Dublin and Cork.

Internships during Covid19

August 31, 2020

Finishing college and entering the workforce is a difficult time in general. Throw in a global pandemic, widespread job cuts and you’ve got yourself the Month of June for over 225,000 third-level graduates!

Trying to seek employment is tough, regardless of qualifications or stage of life.

I spent four years in college, writing reports, working on projects and completing modules with a lecturer always on hand to help. Then, all of a sudden on some sunny, yet wet day in mid-March, I get told to leave the college and go home.

Just like that, I felt robbed of my last year in college.

What I had been working towards for the past four years no longer seemed important. Online lectures, shared Google Docs, hours of sitting in the sun feeling guilty for not sitting in front of the laptop, was the reality of my last few months of education. The focus then was on getting it done. Getting my degree, which I had been so set on. The notion of finding a job only filled my body with anxiety, so I put my focus into doing the best I could to finish my course.

Having completed two previous internships, I am pretty familiar with expectations of the intern and the company. I think they are such a great opportunity, both for the student to get insight into the running of a business and for the business to seek and train new talent as well as getting some fresh insights and enthusiasm.

Throughout my time in CIT lecturers always mentioned Fuzion Communications, a full service PR agency with offices in Dublin and Cork. It wasn’t until the end of July that it really clicked with me – Get a job you love, put some confidence into yourself and your abilities and email them!

My mam always told me growing up that I should pick a place I really want to work in and get a job there, easy as that she said!

I have been interning with Fuzion Communications for almost a month now. Time flies when you’re having fun! Initially I thought it would be difficult working from home without being able to ask someone at the desk behind a quick question. However, fortunately for me I work in a communications company and the team here are more helpful and available to talk throughout the day.

Zoom has become my best friend!

Only having to wear office wear from the hips up is a joy. I couldn’t be happier with my first job after college. I’m learning more than I ever thought I could as an intern, and I’m really getting a taste of what a career in PR would be like.

Safe to say I’m very excited for what the future holds.

Heather JordanHeather

Heather Lordan is a PR intern with Fuzion Communications, a full service PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in both Dublin and Cork.

Welcome to the Twitter Echo Chamber?

August 12, 2020

 

Pleasantville

BREAKING NEWS: Have Twitter officially gone crazy?

Twitter has just rolled out a new feature that will enable a user to limit who can reply to their tweet!

Have a peep at the bottom left corner of your Tweet window when you are tweeting and you will see a new message:

[Everyone Can Reply]

Click this and you will see two further options..

This is how Twitter has explained how this feature will work:

Here’s how it works.

Before you Tweet, choose who can reply with three options:

1) everyone (standard Twitter, and the default setting),

2) only people you follow,

or

3) only people you mention.

Tweets with the latter two settings will be labeled and the reply icon will be grayed out for people who can’t reply.

People who can’t reply will still be able to view, Retweet, Retweet with Comment, share, and like these Tweets.

This is a really interesting (very weird) development for the platform that can often generate lots of discussion, arguments and often abuse.

Effectively I can now tweet that “Greg is the greatest!” and I can do it is a way that no one can argue with me!!

 

The Rationale

I’m guessing Twitter want this because of the fear that many people have when using the platform because of the aggressive nature of many people using it unchecked, led by some very hateful horrible people such as the wonderful Donald Trump.

In truth they are petrified of expressing themselves on it, and maybe for good reason as reporting abuse doesn’t seem to stop anyone.

Twitter noted that users in their test pool have said “that they feel more comfortable tweeting, and more protected from spam and abuse, which has led to them tweeting longer, more in-depth thoughts, particularly on sensitive subjects

People who face abuse find these settings helpful – those who have submitted abuse reports are 3x more likely to use these settings.

The deeper rationale is most likely a commercial one – more active users will lead to more relevance and a better ability to market it to advertisers.

The Plus 

As mentioned already, it may encourage some people to tweet more, knowing that discussion feedback (good or bad) will be limited to their narrow chosen audience.

It might enable other users to start using the platform for certain posts more like Facebook whereby only friends can see their posts.

It could also be useful for organisations (public bodies) who want to push out updates and other information without getting a deluge of responses (good or bad).

Beyond that I am not seeing any other advantages.

The Minus

This will be a huge frustration for users of the platform, when they can see a tweet and want to interact with it and they cannot because of the setting – the openness of Twitter was part of the magic (even with some of the abusive users).

I think in many cases that might result in you unfollowing the account – I do recall at a social media training once a student saying “I only want people to hear what I say” – good luck with that perspective!!

This is my point, my opinion, my view but I only want a very select bunch to see it” …ah come on, this is surely creating a very warped world on Twitter for that person and for the collective.

Do we really need a very false, extra cosy “echo chamber” loaded with biased opinions and unchecked fake news with soft cushions everywhere, or would it be much better if instead of this strange solution to aggressive, abusive behaviour on the platform, that there was a more robust reporting system that did penalise serial abusers? (bye bye Donald!)?

Note: spotting the “Greg is the greatest” tweet I can easily undermine the soft cushions by tweeting something like:

Did you see what that idiot @GregCantyFuzion just said about himself in his self congratulating protected tweet, what a Wally!!”

Twitter is a place that gives us all an equal voice – unfortunately like so many other areas of society we often can’t control our worst urges, we can be nasty, we can be hateful, we can be abusive, we can be racist and we can be downright horrible!

The Echo Chamber isn’t the solution…what do you think?

(the image used at the top of this post was from the fantastic movie ‘Pleasantville’

 

The LinkedIn “headbutt”

August 11, 2020

LinkedIn Tips

It starts with the “connection request” from someone on LinkedIn – after a quick glance over the person’s profile I make a decision whether I will accept or not.

As I keep saying to people in our social media training courses these are not wedding proposals, so my own approach is to give the person the benefit of doubt, thank them for connecting and hopefully they will be another person in your ever extending network that you have had a positive interaction with.

Of course, some people will connect with you with the objective of selling us something – I have no issue with that really as in truth most of us want to make good connections, which hopefully could lead to more awareness and even a good business lead at some point.

I always say to people that in a world of social media there should be no need for “cold calling” and instead think of it as a place for “warm calling“.

Connect with someone relevant, try to have some positive interactions with them, build up some rapport and when and if the time is right gently introduce your services to them.

However, with many that idea just floats high above their heads and instead of taking the “warm calling” approach you get what I call the “headbutt“.

Boom…you didn’t see it coming, right into the forehead and you are left dazed – and you want to do business with me??

I connected with this guy just the other day (XXX is where his name was) and this is what I immediately got back, complete with getting my name wrong:

 Hi Grey

I’m XXX.

My client can bridge funds for your New or Ongoing Business. Do let me know when you receive this message for further procedures.

I am available. Thank you for your anticipated response.

Regards,

XXX

On what planet am I going to do business with this person?

Social media is brilliant for making valuable connections for you and your business – Use it to “warm call” and not to “headbutt”!

Greg

Greg Canty heads up the Digital Marketing team at Fuzion Communications and as part of our suite of digital services we offer social media training and social media consultancy, both face to face and online

 

 

No better time to learn a new skill – no excuses!

June 18, 2020

Podcasting

We always say to ourselves, “Oh, I don’t have time for that”, “I am too busy”, but we can all honestly say that over the last few months we all have had much more time on our hands. Even those of us who are working from home, we do not have the commute to the office, so that itself is time saving.

I have always loved technology and being a curious person, loved knowing how new gadgets and equipment work, so when I was asked by Greg if I was interested in helping him to edit his many podcasts, of course I said I would be delighted to.

I have listened to the #WinHappy podcasts for a while now, even before I commenced working with Fuzion and I was always impressed how great the quality of them was and ignorantly I didn’t realise that there were many hours of editing these behind the scenes prior to the finished polished product!

The software we use is Adobe Audition 2020. I have never used any type of voice editing software before and I have found it fascinating looking at the different sound waves on screen and that they transcribed to sound. Editing my first hour long podcast took me almost an entire day. Thankfully since my first podcast edit that time has drastically reduced as I get more used to the software.

Another learning when you listen closely is how many times all of use  “emmmms”, “aaaaaas”, “likes” and “you knows” in our normal conversations!

I spend time removing many of these to ensure the conversation flows smoothly, which in turn will give you that finished polished product. I have even become much more conscious of myself when speaking as it has made me realise, we all sneak these words into our sentences in every conversation, a strange habit in my opinion.

The few that I have edited these past few weeks have been with different people from different walks of life and very different businesses. Each conversation makes you feel that you are in the room with the speakers. After each one you genuinely feel you know them so much more than you did before listening to the podcast.

When I see these people and their businesses on various social media platforms, I have a sense of pride knowing that I helped to get their chats with Greg out to the public domain.

These are some of our recent episodes (they are all great but if you have the time check out 11 Year old MC Tiny..he is a ticket!):

Tales from the top floor and much more with singer songwriter Jack O’Rourke

 

Talking Food Glorious Food with food writer and activist, Joe McNamee

 

Early Communications is Queen and Transparency is King – A pan European review of communications by experts during the Covid crisis

 

The unique role of social media throughout the COVID19 crisis

 

Helping the vulnerable as well as Sales and Leadership with Ian Hannon of Activate Training

 

Legal issues arising from Covid19 and much more with Robert Bourke, Partner in Charge with HOMS Assist

 

11 Year Old Rapper, MC Tiny says he nearly had a “meltdown” the first time he entered The Kabin

 

There is no hurling on the ditch with Paula Cogan, President of Cork Chamber

 

“When you let the light in, it makes all the difference” says the positive Gina Murphy of Hugo’s Restaurant as she prepares to reopen

 

I always thought to learn a new skill like this that you would have to be technically trained but alas that is not the case – you just need someone who is happy to show you the ropes!

That is something for me that stands out with Fuzion from any company I worked with in the past, Greg and Dee are very open to the entire team always learning new skills and not just the role you were hired for.

So, for those of you who have ever thought about learning a new skill but thought you couldn’t, wouldn’t or merely thought there was no time – there are no excuses, even for an elder lemon like me….!

Or even better, if you wanted to chat to us about being a guest or even us producing a show for your business feel free to contact me olivia@fuzion.ie or Greg greg@fuzion.ie .

Olivia 

Olivia Trought is the Office Manager with Fuzion Communications, a full service agency providing Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing services from offices in Dublin and Cork.

 

Remote Meetings – Rules of Engagement

May 19, 2020

Over the past few weeks from toddlers to elder lemons, we have all had a baptism of fire when it comes to remote meetings.  

While we are well used to them at this stage you can see already an A to Z of how people are great or not so great using them so I thought it was worth writing this as we can all get a little bit better – it’s all about Communications!

Love them or hate them, they are here to stay, so I have some tips that have helped me through this new way of working and could help you as well.

For us at Fuzion, it gives us the opportunity to say that we are very much open for business, sleeves up and ready to help. And it’s working for us – we even have won new business for the first time ever without ever having met the client face to face!

When the lockdown was announced first, we thought that was the end of all of our Social Media and Media Training as well as our Brand and Communications Workshops, but we quickly adapted and we have been busier than ever thanks to Zoom.

Remote meetings will never replace the valuable face to face connectivity but if we can get remote meetings right, think of the time we can save, not to mind the benefits to the environment and our pockets. 

It could mean that when the world “reboots” if we embrace remote meetings we will be far more productive and effective as individuals and as organisations and we might even win back some more quality of life.

Here are some of my learnings since conquering the fear of my laptop camera!!

  1. Be mindful of your image

Treat remote meetings as if you are all in the same room.

Wear work appropriate clothing and be mindful of your backdrop. If you have a home office, how about using one of your company’s pop ups, or if that’s not feasible either have a blank wall, or a backdrop that is clutter free.

The first week I just wore my gym gear – who cared…. It turns out I did. 

Part of my ability to thrive and not just survive during this time is keeping to my rituals and that includes giving myself time to look well every day – that way, if there is a last minute meeting – well I’m ready for my closeup!!!

  1. Turn your camera on – don’t hide

Pre Covid the majority of people kept their camera off and blamed the wifi! Now it’s becoming less acceptable to have your camera turned off.  

Now most people almost resent it where people leave their camera off.  You almost feel that they are hiding something, or that they don’t want to engage with you fully.

In most cases no one will say anything but they will see you (or not at all!) in a different light if you are the hidden one.

  1. Have the right light

Don’t sit with your back to the window or to strong lighting – all people will see is your silhouette. Use soft natural light to illuminate you in front or to the side. 

If you don’t have good lighting, invest in an LED Ring Light – They are great value, can plug into your laptop and offer a variety of lights and strengths depending on the natural light in the room.

In my room, I work with the light behind me, so I have positioned my laptop on books to the side with one of these LED lights behind the camera, so when I’m on a Zoom call, I turn the light on and it really softens the lighting.  

  1. Frame the camera correctly

Try out a number of positions/locations for the camera – which may also change during the day depending on light. 

Show all of your face. Place the camera at eye level or higher. Looking up at the camera makes you look more engaged (so they say!!)  And look into the lens, not at the screen. That’s where the people are, and that is how you make eye contact.

I have been on one or two meetings, where the other person’s camera was pointed at the ceiling, which is definitely worse than not having the camera on at all!!!

  1. Drown out noise

If you are in an environment where there are other people working near you, or there might be other distracting sounds you might consider using headsets. They could be the typical ones that come with your phone.

I’m working in an office on my own so I find the mic and the speakers on my laptop work fine, however some colleagues that run workshops and webinars prefer to use headphones or a headset with a mic.

Click this link that I found on the Zoom help resources on best cameras and headsets

  1. Sit up straight and proud

Don’t slouch, sit on a chair, rather than a couch if possible, so it feels more like a meeting setting. Don’t move as much as you might during an in-person meeting, and stay within the camera frame.

Saying that, I work from a couch, with cushions supporting my back as I work. 

I have my laptop to my side, connected to a big screen on a coffee table in front of me and my cordless keyboard on a tray on my lap. Very comfy as as it makes room for my new work colleagues – my dogs Honey and Bert either side of me!!! 

When it comes to meetings, I lean toward the edge of the couch, sit up straight, turn towards the camera which is to the side, so that the backdrop is the wall rather than all the cushions surrounding me. It keeps me focused sitting at the edge of the couch and I have my cordless keyboard and mouse on a tray, so I am able to access the screen if I need to.

  1. Look engaged

Remember it’s not a mirror, so don’t go fidgeting with your hair, or don’t click away on your computer keyboard while someone is talking. If you really have to click away or if there is any external noise like the dogs (or the kids) acting up, then mute when you are not speaking.

I was at a meeting the other day, where one of the ladies kept on tying her hair up and then down. She forgot that everyone could see her.

I think I preferred her hair down lol!!!

  1. Be on time

And that means joining the meeting a few minutes before the start time, to make sure your connection is working OK.

It’s sort of like getting the meeting room ready for the meeting. When I worked in the office, I’d always make sure the room was in order before the meeting and this is my way of making sure I create the best possible impression by being on time and that everything is working properly.

  1. Keep Meetings Short

Some people find remote meetings more draining than face to face meetings. So try and keep them to less than an hour. After the meeting walk around for a few minutes, grab a coffee or give the dog (or kid) a treat for behaving during the meeting!!

I find that I have to focus much more during remote meetings. I want to be sure I hear what everyone is saying and that I’m 100% engaged. So afterwards I feel really drained, but I find it helps keeping them to under an hour if at all possible.

  1. Go Zoom

I know there were some security issues regarding Zoom during the first week or so of the lockdown, but we find this platform really reliable and the quality of audio, visual and screen sharing functionality really good. 

It’s free to use to host meetings if they are under 40 minutes and it’s also free to use if you are just joining in on a meeting. You just need to download the app the first time you use it.

Their website is really great as well for tips on how to use the platform as well as general help with organising webinars, meetings or just working from home. Click here for a blog post from them I found really useful – tips on how to meet like a pro while working from home.

The biggest reason for using Zoom at this stage, is that it is quickly becoming the standard. People are becoming very familiar with it and if it is a meeting, a training session or a webinar make it as easy as possible for them and don’t place any barriers to entry, such as another platform they may not know.

So, that’s all from me – I hope you find these simple tips really useful, and you never know I could be meeting you soon, on Zoom or even better in person!  

Deirdre Waldron, Fuzion Communications, PR ConsultantDeirdre 

Deirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion Communications, a Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Working from home: Coffee, skipping and a cat called Gizmo!

April 2, 2020

Heading into the end of Week Three of our #WFH and there has been a LOT of people offering top tips on “how to work form home successfully” as blog posts, infographics, downloadable white papers, illustrated series of Insta Stories and so on.

And the most successful thing that I have done to date is not read any of them!!

But I have learnt a few things about myself, which are based on nothing more than my own thoughts (and one or two are based on anecdotal observations by members of my family).

I drink way more coffee at work than I do at home, and I have access to 7 different electrical, mechanical and gravitational methods of making coffee at home, as opposed to the massive tub of half caffeinated dust/half pure crack cocaine that sits in the cupboard in work.

I have three different types of coffee beans from three different roasteries, AND I have an in-house trained barista on a COVID-19 based sabbatical on call in the front room. And with all of these amazing elements at my disposal, I have reduced my coffee intake from 5 cups a day to one, perhaps two.

I don’t know why… It’s just an observation. (I also have a large jar of Blue Maxwell House that is out of date since 2018 for emergencies!!)

Some of you may know that I am a cyclist, a commuter cyclist, I do approximately 9.7km a day, five days a week, in the sun, in the dark, in the rain, in the snow, and hot diggity, I miss it.

As dangerous as the roads are ordinarily – and they are dangerous, there isn’t a day that someone decides that either their journey is more important than my life, that the phone call is *that* important (Do drivers not know about Siri etc?), anecdotally, within the cycling community, drivers are currently being less rational, and more irresponsible at a time when really and truly they have ample room on the road to be more observant, more careful and slower – for the first time in a long long time, I am hesitant to head out (within the 2km radius, obvs.)

..So I’ve started skipping.

9am is a solid. 5:30 is a fluid.

I have saved approx €15 in the three weeks that I’ve been working at home by not buying lunch (I get one lunch a week from the Sandwich Stall in the English Market. Go there, thank me afterwards. And you will), but I spent €9 on ice creams in one go on a post-work walk (within the 2km radius, obvs.) the other day with some of my kids.

So I reckon that in the long run it will cost me more to be at home. Are ice creams tax deductible?

We have two cats. One is Lou. That’s an abbreviated name, which is short for Lucifer.

The other is Gizmo, who has a bionic leg from an accident involving a fence and, well, her leg. And she has become my Study Buddy. She sits up on the chair behind me, purring like a bloody Honda Goldwing.

Don’t tell anyone, but I enjoy her company!!

Finally, a note on the IOT.

I have a Sonos Speaker system. They are fantastic speakers. Loud, bassy, clear and bright. but when you are listening to Drum and Bass and you get a phone call, it’s a juggling act that Fosters Circus would be proud of, for me to take the call, find the app that controls the speakers, greet the person on the phone, scramble to open the volume control on the app, turn the volume down, NOT up, and carry on like the true, professional that I am.

So… how’s working from home going for you?

Jonathan

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj is the Creative Director of Fuzion Communications who are a full service agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, offering Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing Services

 


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