Switching to remote work because of the Covid-19 outbreak was probably a bit of a shock. Typical office camaraderie may have disappeared with social distancing, everyone is worried, and your usual discipline and focus might be lagging.
Here at Efferent Media, we have experience with remote work because we allow our staff to work from home when weather is bad to keep them safe. Here are a few tips we’ve learned along the way for remote work success.
Work From Home Tips –
SET UP A WORK SPACE:
SET GROUND RULES:
MAKE A TO-DO LIST:
KEEP CLEARLY DEFINED WORK HOURS:
COMMUNICATE WITH COWORKERS:
TAKE A SICK DAY IF NECESSARY:
Obviously, this is easy if you have a home office. If you don’t, find a spot with a good chair you can use as your work from home space. Working from your couch sounds appealing but odds are your back and/or neck won’t like it after a day or two because you’re probably not maintaining good posture or ergonomics.
If your space is small, you might need to use your dining room table even though you’ll have to put away your laptop for meals. A good space setup will also help you focus on work so do what you can to create a good environment.
Working in your pajamas is also tempting but can wreak havoc on your mood and mindset. Being comfortable is OK. Taking a shower and getting dressed is a small but crucial step to maintain a healthy mindset. Some people even like to change clothes at the end of the work day to create a mental shift between work time and leisure time even if both outfits involve sweatpants or hoodies.
And that can also apply to your children. “Have everyone dressed and ready for the day, the same time we would normally,” said Krista Baroncelli, Efferent Media’s Director of Client Success. The routine helps children feel more normal in this unsettling time.
If you have children, family members, partners, or roommates home right now – and due to the coronavirus shelter-at-home rules you probably do – create clear rules about your working time.
If you’re having conference calls or video conferences, negotiating no-interruption time is crucial. If you’re dealing with kids, a little bribery may be necessary as in “play quietly or do your school assignment while I’m on the call and then we’ll have lunch together or take a walk.”
“Create a routine and try to stick to a schedule, create a schedule for the kids as well,” said Emily Aquino, Efferent Media’s Creative Director. “Take breaks together, set lunch and snack times, and create a snack bin/basket so the kids can grab and go without bothering you.”
“I let them know when I am on a call and coordinate some outside playtime with them before and after. I also schedule their school quiet reading time at the times I know I’ll have a call,” added Baroncelli.
Also set guidelines with friends or relatives that may be bored at home that they can’t call you during your work hours unless it’s an emergency. People who regularly work from home can attest to the importance of this.
If you haven’t worked from home before, staying focused on your tasks can be a challenge, especially if current events are causing worry, and they probably are. Start the day by setting goals and making your task list for the day – and do this before you check email to avoid distractions. Make the list achievable and check things off as you go to maintain a sense of accomplishments.
Being organized helped Efferent Media’s web developer Malachi Perrin adapt to working from home for the first time. “I thought I was going to be a little more distracted, but I’m not distracted at all. I have the same focus now as I do in the office,” said Perrin.
When working from home, it’s easy to let work bleed over to what should be your free time. That can be very bad for your mental health. You can also lose a sense of what day it is. Set clear work hours and stick to them unless it’s a genuine work emergency. This will help you adapt back to normal life when the quarantines are over.
“When I’m writing a piece of copy, I’m going to continue until I’m done, even if it’s after 5 p.m., because I don’t want to lose the flow, but making sure I otherwise keep a schedule is vital to avoid burnout. Days can blend into each other when working from home continuously. Having the evening free to read, watch a movie, video call will friends, etc. helps to manage stress,” said Beth Rimmels, Efferent Media’s Senior Copywriter.
This is essential for a distributed team. Everyone needs to know what the others are working on for efficiency, plus the communication can be useful to everyone’s mental health. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools that are either free, affordable, or enterprise level, depending upon what you need.
Getting up, walking around, and stretching is good for your back, your general health, and mood. Set a timer, if necessary, to remind you to stand up now and then. Getting some fresh air when the weather is good is also important for your health. The COVID-19 outbreak might make outdoor activity tricky but you can walk outside so long as you maintain social distancing.
Having pets can make this tip easier to follow, especially if it’s a dog that needs walking. “Having something else to take care helps me to get up and get out, even if I don’t want to,” said Eileen McGovern, Efferent Media’s Search Manager. “she [Eileen’s rescue puppy] still has needs, and it helps structure my day.”
If you’re naturally quiet in meetings then conference calls might be tricky for you but speaking up and being heard is essential. You want people to know what you’re working on and you definitely don’t want to risk being forgotten.
Working from home doesn’t mean working while sick – you’ll be less productive and more prone to mistakes. Even at home, it’s often best to take a day to rest and recover than to push through and be sick longer.
Take advantage of training opportunities if they arise. More and more professional training is online now so if it fits your situation or schedule, say yes if given a chance to learn new skills.
During this stressful time, Efferent Media is here to help. Marketing can help keep your business going, and your website’s visibility and authority is more important than ever. Call us at (631) 867-0900 or fill out our contact form, and we’ll provide a complimentary SEO website evaluation and marketing consultation. We’re all in this together.