We at Robot Creative have been remote working for weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a team, we’ve noticed some challenges and also some opportunities while working from home. Here are some tips and tricks we’d like to share to keep things running smoothly while sheltered in place.
- Over communicate!
The best way to find out what process and channels are best for communicating, you may have to go through about a week of communicating over and over on many channels. The one thing you cannot do is expect others to see your message without getting confirmation. Next, as a team, it’s helpful to share what works for some or doesn’t for others. Then, a leader should lay down rules for the best means to communicate moving forward. Remember to be patient. Rules are reinventing themselves right now, but you may find better ways to communicate through this that you might elect to continue after the quarantine is over.
At Robot Creative, we found it best to use organized channels in a chat tool called Slack to communicate on specific topics like IT issues, general work announcements, and even a fun channel to keep spirits up. Then we use the messaging function in our project management tool, Pro Workflow, to update each other on projects and even pass documents back and forth with edits and notes. Relying less on email and more on these mediums has cut down our need for Zoom video calls (which we do still use for some meetings when needed). We may very well continue these messaging practices and will cut down on face to face meetings in the future.
- Environment is key
Do NOT work from bed or the couch if you can avoid it. Set up an area that will be your dedicated workspace. You can use the kitchen table or coffee table. Just take the time to get it set up each morning for work by removing the usual objects, so you have a clear space. You can also change up your surroundings during the day to freshen your perspective and inspire creativity. We are encouraged to do this in the office, but it can also be done at home. Finally, at the end of the day put the work stuff away and put things back to “normal”. This allows your space to be your home again, and no longer a place of work for the day.
- Save your back and eyes
Ergonomics has been around for a while, and it’s true that sitting with improper posture takes a toll on your body. Sit in an actual office chair if you have one. You may want to ask if you can pick up the one from your office. This will save your back from agony after sitting for hours on furniture that is designed more for lounging. Also, protect your eyes and invest in blue light blocker glasses. We are all staring at screens now more than ever. Whiteboards, presentations, meetings, are now all done digitally. Plus, we are entertaining ourselves at home with all our devices. You can get prescription and non-prescription lenses sent to your house through affordable resources like Zenni Optical, Felix Gray and even Amazon.
- Suit up!
Ok, maybe don’t wear a suit – unless that is what is expected for a video conference call. The point here is to get dressed. It’s tempting to work in your pajamas. When you dress up like you’re ready to work, you’re more willing to get to work. This might seem silly, but most of our team noticed they felt less motivated when they weren’t work-ready.
- Stick to a schedule
Not only is this helpful as a part of communication to others when you are available, it also helps you differentiate work time from downtime. Set hours for your workday, and even better, segment hours- blocking out time for certain tasks. Make sure your online calendar is updated for others on your team to see. That way they know the best time to get ahold of you, and when to leave you alone. This will help you and your team better separate personal time from work time.
- Take breaks, and give yourself one too
Something to remember, you aren’t just working from home, you are working from home during a pandemic. This is a very uncertain time and stress is high. There’s a lot of change, but you still need to get work done. And you might feel the pressure to overperform to keep your job, or because you feel a sense of guilt for still having yours when so many people in the world are losing theirs. Despite these feelings, to keep your mental health, you need to take breaks. Go outside for a walk. Get up and stretch. And forgive yourself for this learning curve. This is going to take some getting used to, and who knows how long it will last.
- Keep it casual sometimes
There’s a lot of seriousness, and work is serious. However, it’s good to keep a channel open for some light and fun conversations. Even just chatting during breaks with co-workers to see how they are doing. Ask about their family, share struggles if you can, and share good things coming out of this situation. Our team started a weekly newsletter that highlights general announcements, and also features some of the shared photos, ideas and fun facts that we shared throughout the week. This has helped overall morale and has given us some great ideas to try with our families.
These are just a few things our team has learned in the past month of remotely working. If you have any ideas, feel free to share them with us through our social media channels, or contact us here.