Many of us in the tech industry are used to working from home on the odd occasion and we know the remote working tools and products we need to do this.
However, during these current, and very odd, circumstances sometimes having a laptop and a free video conferencing account is not enough. It’s also not just your workstation or set-up you should be thinking about.
To be your most productive it’s important to look after your mental health and general wellbeing. So often when at home you can lose track of time, working through your lunch or until late in the evening. But it’s important to make some ‘me time’ and also try to do the normal things in life that you’d do in the office.
I’ve been lucky enough to have the flexibility to work from home for a while now so I’ve picked up a few tricks to help me to keep up my productivity. I’m also a part of the Wildfire social team, but have realised during lockdown that keeping up everyone’s spirit’s virtually can be a challenge!
Here are a few things I’ve learned.
Get your workstation and set-up right for you
Everyone has different ways of working. For example, I use a very simple laptop set-up with a separate mouse, headset, webcam and microphone for slick communications. Others may prefer additional screens or a desktop layout, but it’s important that your workstation suits you and your working needs.
Also make sure you’re comfortable. Sit on something suitable, like a quality office chair or a yoga ball for better back posture. Make sure you have a ‘desk’ space or area too. This can be tricky for those who do not have a dedicated room, but at the least make sure you have a table to sit at!
Don’t sit on the sofa all day and ask yourself ‘am I being my most productive here?’. If your set-up is in the area you normally use to chill at home the answer is likely going to be no.
That said, I’ve found it’s great to move around the house and switch environments from time to time. For example, to participate in the virtual brainstorm why not go into another room or schedule your daily walk at the same time so you have a different perspective?
Additionally, make sure the software and tools you use on your computer are up to scratch and you have the same access to them as you would if you were in the office. Remote working solutions like Zoom are a great way to stay connected with colleagues and clients, as well as tools such as Slack for quick communication.
Replicate the office routine at home
Start your day the right way and get yourself in work mode. Change out of your PJs, even if it’s just into fresh ones (I have dedicated work loungewear), make your morning brew and write your first priority list for the day.
Making lists, whether they are handwritten or saved in the cloud, is a good habit to adopt regardless of whether you are working from home or not, but if you’re not used to this new way of working it can be easy to pick up bad habits. Try to do the normal things you would do in the office and replicate those at home. This can really help to get you in to the right frame of mind.
If you find that some team members are struggling to adapt to the working from home lifestyle, online tools such as Trello can really help with organising team work. It’s great for account managers like myself who need to keep on top of multiple tasks and campaigns.
Finally, remember to socialise with your colleagues. Organise some virtual hangouts so you can stay connected with each other and not talk about work every time you connect online.
At Wildfire we’ve organised social activities each week during the lockdown, including a Hump Day Quiz and Beer O’clock on a Friday afternoon (the beverage is optional).
There are also activities that we can virtually drop in and out of when it suits, like our virtual video tea break at 11am every Tuesday and Thursday for 15 minutes. We’re finding it’s a great way for those who do not work on teams together to ‘mingle’ and chat alongside the normal work routine.
Share things you come across with colleagues to help those who may be struggling in silence. Things like exercise classes (there are quite a few free options available at the moment), TV shows you’re currently binge watching in the evenings, or recipes because you have more time to bake and cook those hearty home meals.
Regardless of how you like to work, whether you are used to being at home or not, in these times it’s important to look beyond a work list sometimes, take care of yourself, and stay connected.