Wacom Presents: How to Maintain Professionalism while Working from Home

WACOM PRESENTS – A Work From Home Series

Presented by Wacom, learn tips and tricks from artists and experts on how they find inspiration and motivation while working from home. Check out ArtStation Magazine weekly to discover new featured artists and get inspired. In this final instalment, discover Jeremy Estrellado and get his tips on how to maintain professionalism while working from home!

Lead Environment Artist, Jeremy Estrellado, currently works at Massive Entertainment-Ubisoft in Malmö, Sweden. He is also the owner of the art community The DiNusty Empire. Coming from a traditional artist background in oil painting and drawing, he entered the games industry in 2007. Since then, he has had the opportunity to work with many talented people on games such as SAW: The Video Game, LotR: War in the North, LoTR: Shadow of Mordor, Forza Motor Sports, Tom Clancy’s The Division and Tom Clancy’s The Division 2.

In his free time, under the alias DiNusty, he has fostered a global community that encourages artists to collaborate and improve their skills together. From juniors to long time veterans, they all have something to grow on to level up to the next stage in their professional careers. Make sure to follow Jeremy and The DiNusty Empire to  see when their next Meetups will take place.

Maintaining professionalism, as we go for longer periods of time working from home, will become more and more important. Focusing on key aspects to keep your professional presence alive and kicking will go a long way. I will discuss how to present yourself with some simple webcam rules; the importance of keeping meetings productive, as well as maintaining your personal schedule so you can keep up with yourself and your team’s needs. I will also cover working with security in mind, along with staying professional when you’re supposed to be and how to separate your free time. It’s important if you want to go the extra mile.

Alright, let’s get into it!

Webcam Rules

While a lot of this may seem like common sense, it is important to know how you are being perceived at the other end of the camera.

If you have a webcam, use it! A lot of the times it’s easy to just have it off during video calls. You will really set yourself up for success and be a lot more present to people if you have the camera on. It’s professional and common courtesy, especially when someone else has their webcam on.

Dress for the part. It is easy to dress more casually while working from home. One of the biggest ways to maintain a professional presence while working from home is to look and feel like you’re at work. You will stay more on task, as well as keep up a professional appearance to your coworkers.

Keep your workspace clear and clean. Your workspace should look like you are there working. One thing to keep in mind is that while it’s important for the people seeing your space, it is arguably just as important for your mind to feel it as well. If you are in a situation where you cannot really make a presentable scene around you, feel free to mask it out. Things like Zoom or Microsoft Teams allow you to change the background around you. Just make sure that the background is suitable for a work environment.

Productive Meetings

Meetings come in two flavours: productive and unproductive. Think about what a meeting can cost. You are taking the time out of people’s schedule to discuss something important that could possibly be not that important as you navigate through the meeting. You could invite ten or more people and if that meeting is over in an hour just think how much production cost time is lost there. You must think in a productive manner, as well as have a goal for the meeting.

Some things to keep in mind when setting up a meeting: Could this have been an email all along? A lot of the times a big sync-up meeting might have been best as an email that just needs a few questions answered by management. Not everyone needs to be present for that meeting.

Default Meetings on outlook tend to be set to one hour. Instead, you can go in and set the default to 30 minutes. If a meeting needs to be an hour you will set it to an hour. You will be surprised to see how much gets done when everyone knows the meeting is only 30 minutes and there are things to get done or make decisions on in that set time.

Meetings have a structure and you should know it. When a meeting begins you should have a structure that you stick to. People like structured meetings. This also allows for less confusion, makes sure that everyone knows what was decided, and if any actions need to be taken and by whom. Start the meeting by stating what the meeting is about and what needs to be decided or what problem needs to be solved. Upon reaching the result with the meeting coming to an end, present the reason again along with the result. If anyone has to act on points this is also the best time to state who will be doing what task. It’s also important that someone is designated to take notes during the meeting. Notes can then be sent out to everyone involved. This will help anyone who was unable to attend or who needs reminding.

Maintaining a Schedule

Maintaining a schedule is quite important to staying professional. I will stick to the top three that I think have the most impact on keeping you on track and maintaining a professional aura going throughout your time working from home. If it makes it easier for you, think about it like you are training to be a freelancer.

Bedtimes and Alarms. It goes without saying that going to bed and getting a good night’s rest is important. It is also especially important to go about keeping that alarm device wherever it might be far from the bed. Make yourself go to bed and get up at the same time no matter what. Get that glass of water and start the day. Trust me, you will be killing it from the start of the day.

Simulating a commute. This is more of something I like to stick to, walking around the block or walking around the apartment to simulate going to and from work. This gives your mind the same window of time to either prepare for the day or to also relax and end the day the same way your mind is used to every day on your commute home.

Setting alarms to keep normalcy. Silent alarms that tick off for going to lunch or getting up to stretch are good. Breaking your feeling that you’re just sitting there working on your computer all day. You can setup a meaningful time with friends or have a coffee break with coworkers to just unplug for a bit from your daily tasks. Here in Sweden they have what is called Fika. It’s a break time around 3pm where your team sits down and has coffee, cookies, and or cake. This is something that I wish every company I have ever been at did. We usually take turns getting the cake or cookies each week. Please start doing this. It does wonders for your team.

It is important to have a sense of separation of work and home. Having the two separated helps the mind release stress and be able to have a sense of being off work to relax. This might seem a bit off topic, but it will allow you to maintain that professional presence while on the clock for a much longer working from home order from your company. Who knows how long you might be working from home? After a day’s hard work, you should feel like you have left work even if it is just in the other room of your house or apartment. You should also keep in mind that in our type of industry that the workspace is where we do personal work as well as play games and consume entertainment in general.

Working with Security in Mind

My close friend, Benjamin Pirie, who specializes in Data Security and is Technical Production Manager,  provided me with tools and a good understanding of security within the remote workspace.

With the things you will be working on from home, there is an incredibly good chance that you need to have a level of security on your home PC that you do not usually work with, given that your work is either under an NDA (Non-disclosure agreement) or needs to be secure from the eyes of others. Let us go over some key points for keeping yourself protected and a functioning professional from home. Trust me, your cyber security team will thank you.

Have a good secured connection to your “secured area,” i.e. VPNs or secure remote desk streaming software etc.

Have a dedicated space at home, that is out of sight of any windows/guests where you can work in private. Remember that the home is now the office, and public cafes and public networks are not the same and confidentiality rules still apply as they would if you were in the office. No discussing confidential topics in public areas!

Always make sure you have changed your router password from the default one. Do not use the same password for logging in to your secure devices as your Facebook password. Encrypt your hard drives. Bitlocker from Microsoft comes to mind.

This should cover most of the biggest security issues you could run into while working remotely but you should always consult your IT or cyber security team for what they might have or need of you. Every company is going to be a little different, but in the end it is all about protecting you and the company you represent.

Given the right tools we can do amazing things and be quite resourceful. We discussed how to present yourself professionally with some simple webcam rules. The importance of keeping meetings productive and useful with structure, as well as maintaining your personal schedule. We also covered working with security in mind and keeping you professional when you’re supposed to be and how to separate your free time. I hope these tips are helpful for you all as we continue to work from home. Keep up being awesome and you can achieve your goals!

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