Working from home guide

Tips and ideas when working from home.

Working from home is a skill that takes practice. Use the following guide to help make working from home more effective and enjoyable.

Technology assistance

Tips on staying connected, using videoconferencing tools, and accessing web applications.

Staying connected

The following tools can help you stay connected to colleagues while working from home:

Zoom how-to videos

YouTube videos from our IT team to assist us with using Zoom:

College web applications

Links to Gettysburg College web applications (also available on the Employee landing page):

VPN and drive mapping instructions

Use these guides to set up VPN and map your network drives:

Video conferencing

Tips on video conferencing etiquette to help your meetings go smoothly.

Meeting preparation

Prepare before the meeting:

  • Ensure all meeting participants have the meeting invitation link and materials in advance of the meeting.
  • Make sure your presentation is ready to show.
  • Test it before you start the call.
  • If your presentation is visually dense or contains video, consider distributing it to participants in advance.
  • Be prepared to leverage good meeting practices, such as sending an agenda in advance; having a meeting facilitator, time keeper, and note taker; and sending out minutes after the meeting.

Meeting rooms

Things to consider in the meeting room:

  • If you are the remote site on a video conference, seek as quiet a space as possible with no or minimal background noise.
  • Arrive early to allow time to troubleshoot and resolve any potential issues with equipment.
  • Ensure that everyone has their cameras on. This provides a more complete interactive experience for the meeting.
  • If you are connecting from a laptop, try to plug in to wall power, because battery use can adversely affect video quality.
  • Close all blinds and doors to cut down on potential glare. Interior lighting should not be too dark or too bright. Normally, the settings used in a traditional work environment are adequate.
  • Adjust the camera angle or seating position to ensure you are on camera.

Effective communication

Starting the meeting

When you begin the meeting:

  • Once all attendees are present, take a minute to conduct an audio check.
  • Making a quick round of introductions is an effective way to do this.
  • Introductions break the ice and ensure that everyone can hear each other properly.
  • If you plan to record the meeting, notify all participants at the beginning of the meeting.

During the meeting

Helpful things to consider while you are participating in a virtual meeting:

  • When not speaking, make sure your audio is muted. This will prevent inadvertent noises, such as coughs, rattling papers, or chair squeaks, from interrupting others.
  • Speak clearly and in a normal voice. There is no need to shout.
  • Leverage online collaboration tools like Google Drive to take notes, share content, and collaborate real-time. This enables all participants to interact, versus using a physical whiteboard or other physical visuals only available in the primary conference room.
  • Tell others if you leave the video conference early.
  • Minimize body movements.
  • When possible, avoid interrupting others as they are speaking.
  • Many video conferencing systems have a voice-activated switching feature to automatically move the camera to the active speaker. Interrupting another speaker may confuse the voice activation.

Working from home

Tips that help you maintain good habits when working from home:

  • Maintain regular hours.
  • Set a schedule, and stick to it.
  • Schedule breaks.
  • Get some fresh air; eat your lunch away from your workspace.
  • Open your windows to let in as much natural daylight and fresh air as possible, and take short walks if you live in an unpopulated area - and be sure to wash your hands as soon as you return home.
  • Keep dedicated office space if possible
  • Guard the privacy of your work.
  • If you do not have a desk, use your dining room table. Besides making you feel like you are at an “office,” this helps you maintain good posture, avoid distractions, and leave your work behind at the end of the day.
  • The Gettysburg College Information Technology website has a helpful list of how-to guides for common tasks.
  • Stay connected; interact with colleagues with no agenda from time to time.
  • If you work on a team, make sure to check in regularly just as you would in the office.
  • Create to-do lists to keep yourself organized and focused, and share the status of your lists with your supervisor so they know you are on top of your work.
  • Are there projects that you may now have more time to accomplish - research, reviews, compliance training, online professional development.
  • Fight the urge to multitask.
  • If you have kids, prepare for disruptions.

Working from home with children

Human Resources has prepared a guide with tips on how to work from home with children in the household. The guide includes helpful online resources for parents such as apps, podcasts, and websites that can assist with balancing the needs of children with the demands of a regular workday.

Project ideas

Working from home project ideas to consider.

Training

Improve office skills using online learning resources. Consider online professional development opportunities from providers such as:

Check the sites above for free courses, training and development opportunities. Here are some example courses:

Back-burner projects

Remote work time can be ideal to tackle delayed projects such as writing manuals or other types of documentation.

Topic research

Do benchmarking research on a topic the department is interested in pursuing.

Departmental planning

Is there planning that needs to occur in your department? For example, do you run an annual meeting or conference in several months where the planning can start earlier?

Data-crunching

Compile department data to generate reports/metrics.

Updating websites

Review department websites (and other promotional/written materials) for information that needs to be updated.

Site safety checklist

Maintaining a safe home office is important. The following checklist is designed to assess the overall safety of home office space. Your home office should conform to the conditions outlined below:

  1. The space is free of hazardous materials.
  2. The space is free of indoor air quality problems.
  3. Temperature, ventilation, and lighting are adequate for the desired occupancy.
  4. The space is free of noise hazards.
  5. Aisles, doorways, and corners are free of obstructions to permit visibility and movement.
  6. File cabinets and storage areas arranged so drawers and doors do not open into walkways. File cabinets are not top heavy.
  7. Chairs do not have any loose casters (wheels). The rungs and legs of chairs are sturdy.
  8. Phone lines, electrical cords and extension wires are secured.
  9. Floor surfaces are clean, dry, level, and free of worn or frayed seams.
  10. All circuit breakers and or fuses in the electrical panel are labeled as to intended service. Circuit breakers clearly indicate if they are in the open or closed position.
  11. Electrical equipment is free of recognized hazards that could cause physical harm (frayed or loose wires, bare conductors, exposed wires fixed to the ceiling).
  12. Computer equipment is connected to a surge protector.
  13. There is a working smoke detector in the workspace area.
  14. A home multi-use fire extinguisher, which you know how to use, is readily available.

Home office ergonomics

Keep the following suggestions in mind to maintain an ergonomic posture when seated or standing.

seated and standing ergonimic postures and equipment angles
Standing and seated positions and angles
  • Elbows at 90 degrees with wrists straight
  • Upper arms located by the worker’s side
  • Mouse located next to the keyboard and at the same height
  • Keyboard at the same height as the elbows
  • Seat height adjusted so the thighs are parallel to the floor
  • Lumbar support adjacent to the small of the back (lower back)
  • Top of screen at eye level
  • Monitor located approximately arm’s length away from worker
  • Feet firmly supported by the floor or by the footrest
  • Leg room should be free of obstructions

Stress coping tips

Virtual health visits

Highmark Blue Shield coverage offers virtual physical and mental health visits.

  • Know your virtual visit options:
  • WellSpan’s online emotional health tool MyStrength strengthen your mind, body and spirit
    • MyStrength
    • Click “Sign Up”
    • Enter the Access Code: WPHwellness
    • Complete the myStrength sign-up process and personal profile
  • Employees are encouraged to use telemedicine (video and phone visits) in order to limit potential exposure in physician offices. Here are the links to Highmark’s Telemedicine vendors Amwell and Doctor on Demand.
  • WellSpan EAP Program Gettysburg College agrees to pay up to three visits/evaluations for all regular full-time employees, and to provide a referral list of practitioners in specific fields of expertise.