The SolarWinds Guide to Work From Home: Introduction

Like so many things at SolarWinds, this blog series arose out of a genuine desire to help our fellow IT practitioners by sharing our experiences and offering lessons we learned along the way. In this case, our goal wasn’t to help you monitor, manage, or automate your IT environment, but to simply wrap your head around the new reality in which many of us find ourselves (and our organizations) now: working remotely when it wasn’t part of our work habit before, and being part of a distributed team who all (along with their spouses, adult family members, children, and even pets) are coping with the same things.

Within this guide, you’ll find information running the gamut from highly technical and specific; to more organizational and broadly general.

Over the course of this series we’ll cover the following topics:

As with everything we share at SolarWinds, you’re an active participant in the conversation. Share your thoughts, additions, and even corrections in the comments so we can all grow as IT professionals and as people who continue to strive to be our best selves and to do our best work, even in the face of adversity.

Who is this blog series for? There’s something here for everyone:

If you’re new to remote work and consider yourself “non-technical,” there are plenty of hints and ideas for organizing your workspace, your workflow, and just wrapping your head around the whole idea of working with people who are not around you. There are suggestions on the kinds of things you can do with remote work software; gear to improve your experience; and habits you didn’t need in the office, but which can be game-changers now that you’re remote.

If you’re an IT pro who hasn’t worked remote before, some of these tips and concepts may nevertheless be new to you, but you may find the organizational items are more immediately useful. And, of course, the section on tech gear!

If you’re already a seasoned telecommuter, then you will undoubtedly have been asked many of the questions we address in this series by friends, family, and coworkers in the last few weeks, and you should feel welcome use what you find here (with attribution, of course).

Credit and Acknowledgements

While many of us contributed ideas and points, the main voices you will hear in this document belong to:

Alli Rael (   )
Chrystal Taylor (  )
Destiny Bertucci (   )
Joe Reves (   )
Kevin Sparenberg (   )
Leon Adato (   )

Each of us drew on our experiences both as professionals working in IT and as remote workers—some of us very new to the experience, and some who’ve been doing it for years or even decades.

Some Initial Thoughts

While each of the posts in this series zero in on a particular topic, there are a few points we’d like to make at the very beginning, which apply equally whether the specific conversation is about configuring your router, finding the best workspace in your home, or trying to walk the tightrope of a conference call in the presence of a needy toddler.

  • We should approach this like every other challenge we face in tech: with a combination of open-mindedness to new opportunities and approaches; a commitment to keeping an eye on the data that tells us how we’re doing; and the ability to “fail fast” by acknowledging when something isn’t working the way we want or need it to and finding another solution.
  • Remember, not everything works for everybody. Just because a WFH guide (even this one!) says you “should” do something, if it’s really not working for you, then it’s OK to acknowledge that and find your own way to accomplish a goal.
    • Many WFH guides emphasize a quiet organized space. But some people might find silence, well, distracting. Maybe the radio or white noise helps you focus.
    • Many WFH guides suggest a dedicated workspace. But not everyone has that luxury. Making space for work can take many different forms, even if it’s a seat at the kitchen table with a paper sign saying, “Mom is working right now.”
    • …and so on. The point is for you—yourself, your team, and your manager—to approach this with an open mind and a willingness to experiment when the effort you’re making isn’t generating the results you want.
  • If you aren’t 100% productive in the first day or two, remain calm. It’s going to take you time to settle in and find your groove. Not only is this totally normal and OK, it would be the same if you moved office buildings, or jobs, or even to a new desk. Be gentle with yourself (managers: and your team) and allow time to adjust.
    • This is even more true when it’s not just you. If you other people in your home—whether they’re other adults or children—then not only are they going through the same transition as you, but you’re also learning how to work in the same space, sometimes compete for the same resources, and find not only individual routines but collective routines as well. As with so many things, communication is the key to success!

That is all for now. Or next posts will dig into far more details and specifics. Until then keep calm, carry on, and remember to wash your frakking hands!

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  • Thanks for the article.  Like some of the other folks, I'm already virtual and tbh I have noticed 0 difference in regards to doing my job.  However, reading about how all of the office folks are coping with the change and conversing has proven entertaining and educational.

  •     Terrific article Leon.... 

    Everyone's circumstances are different as you so rightly point out. Here's the key to being successful, don't worry about the location or how pretty it is. Concentrate on the task(s) at hand. You'll get into the swing of things! As IT Pro's we are kind of used to dealing with things getting tossed at us. So a change in venue..... no biggie!

    Like  my spot is in the basement... I'm am going to take his suggestion about the 32" TV. My wife is not working due to COVID-19, so when I do work from home, she has taken to painting the interior of our house to keep herself busy (room by room). We manage not to get in the way of each other's orbit during my working hours. So win-win!