The Inevitability Of What Can Happen When You Work From Home

The Inevitability Of What Can Happen When You Work From Home

You’ve seen a lot of blog posts about working and meeting from home.  These blogs are all useful, filled with tips and tricks and sprinklings of reality checks to keep you sane.

As a remote worker, I have always conducted most of my meetings from my home office. With years of expertise of video meetings going unexpectedly awry and how to handle these moments, today I am sharing a few stories of how to manage these inevitabilities – and perhaps a few laughs too!

Let me start by saying I have animals, a lot of them; 4 dogs, 3 cats, 2 goats and 14 chickens to be exact.

The canine encounters: In the past I used to usher all the dogs outside, put the doggie door in, tried to ignore them as they barked to get in, stay very polished and professional as I am mentally dodging the guilt-trip being levied by the pooches.  As time went by it just became easier to mute my mic for a moment, give a stern command to any offending canine and return to presenting. I now just say “hold on while I yell at my dogs.” It seems to work well. 

My cats, what can I say, it’s the acrobatic cat that braves the leap on to my desk and serenely glides in front of my camera.  I don’t try to push, they’ll only lay down and maybe drag a whole bunch of my stuff off my desk, and really mess up a meeting. I employ the “blow” method, which involves a sharp intake and a directed puff of air towards the cats, which seems to be generally disagreeable and they usually leave (or lay down on my keyboard anyway). My meeting mates generally laugh and are grateful the offending cat didn’t turn around in front of the camera, if you know what I mean. 

And then there’s the farm animals. Where my desk is situated, my back is to a wall of windows with the backyard on display for all to see - which means goats or chickens will absolutely walk by.  This goes one of two ways.  Either I am really into my content, digging in, feeling like I am presenting great information and someone says “Is that a goat?” Yep, stops my train of thought in its tracks, I share a laugh, and try to get back into the momentum. Or, I feel like my preso is a little dry, not super interesting, attendees attention is flagging, and then a goat or chicken walks by, and I get the same response “Is that a goat?”  This time, I am grateful for the interruption as I feel it has added value to my meeting.

How about other people in your home, or outside in eye-shot of the camera?  One fateful day my contractor puts the ladder out and crawls up right outside the window.  He’s a big guy, it was an interesting look.  Oh, then he started to hammer. I should have planned ahead you say?  Maybe let him know I’d be presenting?  Probably, but he wasn’t working anywhere near my desk and why he decided to pick up and move his workstation to literally in full view of the camera is still a mystery. As construction was happening outside, there were untidy piles of construction materials so I decided to put a moveable tri-fold screen behind my chair to block the unsightliness.  Did I back my chair into the screen and it fell over?  Of course, it did and, oh yes there we’re many laughs. I did hedge my bets in the future, and let him know my schedule just in case.   How about my husband?  He’s a great guy and thinks he’s automatically friends with my meeting attendees. He may even throw in a comment to something I am presenting on.  You’re welcome.

I could share 50 more stories but they all end the same, I just roll with whatever transpired and get back into the meeting.  I was a bit of an oddity a few weeks ago, but not anymore, millions have joined the ranks of a transparent home-life and at the end of the day, the core of what I do is to help companies provide their customers with an exceptional customer service experience.  Do we need an individual helping us with a call or chat or text that knows who we are, what’s going on with our account and situation?  Absolutely. Now more than ever I am proud to be part of the outstanding Five9 family.

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