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Remote work guru shares tips at local webinar

MARQUETTE — Working remotely is a necessity for many people during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced some employees to work at home instead of their usual offices.

Although the situation might be temporary, it involves acclimating to a new work environment — and it even might lead to an interest in working remotely permanently.

Innovate Marquette SmartZone hosted a “Business on Virtual Tap” on Wednesday, led by Erica Maki, senior engagement programs manager for LogMeIn.

A military wife and a 1994 Northern Michigan University graduate, Maki has lived in many places, from the Mojave Desert to Hawaii.

So, she’s picked up a few tips along the way to help people work at home, yet still contribute to their employers.

“If you’re a hiring manager or if you’re someone looking for work, you should give remote work a chance and give people a chance to grow and learn and just look at those skills that they have under light,” Maki said.

She believes things will change after the pandemic.

“You’re going to see a lot more companies opening their mind to remote employees,” Maki said.

A plus for holding a webinar, she said, is that’s an extremely scalable tactic to help people expand their reach, drive customer engagement and help product teams get feedback.

It might be easy, though, for remote workers to be tempted to sit at their computers in their pajamas, but Maki cautioned against that habit.

“You are still a professional,” Maki said. “You don’t get to come on webcam and look like a slob. If you don’t take your shower and get ready in the morning, it’s going to get hard to do it throughout the day.”

Maki likes to have two monitors and a backup laptop, especially during a webinar.

“You don’t want to be the one that can’t get online,” she said.

Maki stressed a webcam should be at eye level at about an arm’s length away, with lighting and a good background screen considered.

A dedicated work space is important, she said, but so are simple things such as water and a cough drop, which can come in handy to make a good impression during a webinar.

“Set yourself up for success,” Maki said.

However, she suggested taking breaks during the day, even taking a dog out for a walk.

That said, having the proper focus probably is a big necessity for remote employees.

“You do have to be disciplined, and sometimes that can be hard,” she said.

Maki uses various apps, including Slack.

According to slack.com, it’s a collaboration hub that integrates with apps and services teams already use.

Maki also uses GoToMeeting and Office 365, and stressed people should have LinkedIn profiles and check Amazon’s job boards.

Regardless of the current work situation, some introspection can be a good thing.

“It’s always good to ask yourself … if you want to work remote,” Maki said. “If I would have asked myself that, though, I would have said ‘no.’ I am a people person. I like to go to the office and talk to people, and sometimes I do feel like I’m going crazy. But now the whole world is with me, that crazy space.”

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