The world of work is shifting. It has been for a while, but now it would be hard to argue that the traditional 9-5 office job is what the future of work will look like. As two corporate-converts, my sister Terrie and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In fact, work life was in dire need of an overhaul. 

Now, just because flexibility in work life and greater utilization of technology can be positive steps towards a better working culture, that doesn’t mean there aren’t growing pains. If you are #wfh you know what we mean.

Wifi glitches, laptop microphone issues, bad lighting, wardrobe malfunctions, background noise (whether it be kiddos or people mowing lawns outside) and endless distractions are a few of the pitfalls of working remotely. 

Since leaving our corporate roles, we built our company intentionally to be remotely run, with me, Annie, in San Francisco and Terrie in Taiwan. From the start we created our business to thrive being run in different time zones. Beyond our locations, all of our team members, clients and partners are located all over the world. 

Since starting our company, we’ve experienced nearly every technical difficulty and fail in the book. But, after a lot of trial and error, we’ve cracked the code on mastering the dreaded video call. Here are a few tips to keep you from on-camera tears or frustrated screams when you thought your microphone was off. 

Annie Chang, Co-Founder of Olea & Fig shares her advice for avoiding the awkward and stressful pitfalls of remote working.

1. Preparation Saves the Day

Video calls, like anything else, require a little preparation. If you do, the end result is always better. For an in-person meeting, you would likely have notes and materials prepared ahead of time, you should treat the video meeting the same way. An hour before your meeting make sure you have everything ready to go. 

Make sure you have the call link and password somewhere easily accessible so you aren’t fumbling through emails a minute before trying to find the right one. Have a notebook handy to jot down notes so you aren’t typing while others are speaking. Check your mic, audio and camera before to make sure everything is working smoothly, have your phone and headphones standing by just in case. If you are planning on screen sharing make sure all those documents/presentations are open and ready to be viewed so it’s a seamless transition. And if you’re hosting a meeting, it always helps to send out one last reminder with the call link 15 minutes before the call starts.

2. Calendar Invites are Your Best Friend

In our experience, one of the most difficult things about working with a remote team is managing time zones. You may not be in a situation right now where members of your team are in different time zones but there will be a time when so-and-so goes to stay with their mom for a while in who-knows-where and now everyone is either late or way too early for a meeting. 

This is why calendar invites are my ride-or-die. No second guessing, no missed calls, just clarity. I can look at my calendar, see I have a meeting with Terrie at 5pm on Tuesday and when Terrie looks at hers she will know that for her, that meeting is 8am on Wednesday. It’s a simple step that will help ease a lot of confusion and reduce the mental math you’ll have to do to calculate the time. 

3.  If you aren’t Comfortable, No One Will Be

We’ve been there, sitting on the ground crammed between your nightstand and your bed frame, laptop propped on a tower of shoe boxes, hoping it doesn’t fall and expose your failed attempt to get decent lighting and achieve a professional background. 

Here’s the secret… No one cares. And, people can tell when you seem tense. We are brand strategists, we understand the importance of image, but we are also mission-focused and highly value honesty and authenticity. Be yourself. If your background clutter makes you anxious, click the blurring feature. If you are worried about distractions and outside noise, use headphones with a mic. If you feel that the lighting in your space needs a little help, add a new lamp or a ring light. But by no means should you beat yourself up if it’s not “perfect.” 

People know you are working from home, no one expects you to be in full business attire on your morning zoom call (and if they do… quit). Put on clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident, but not ones you will be fidgeting with and worried about the whole call (We’re talking to you wrap tops and stiff blazers). We suggest a light sweater or blouse for that business casual look.

This list is not conclusive, there are new tips we are learning all the time about using new technologies to their highest potential. But, we hope that you can take away something that will help your next video call feel smooth and natural instead of glitchy and awkward. How do you leverage technology to improve your business? 

This is a guest article written by global brand strategist and marketer, Annie Chang of Olea & Fig. You can connect and follow Annie and her sister Terrie on Instagram or check out their website to learn more.