With all of the fast-moving developments related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the past week, your day-to-day life may have changed drastically in the name of prevention.
First and foremost, we hope that you, your family and friends are safe and healthy during this uncertain time. In addition to taking all of the recommended steps to prevent spread of the disease, such as washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and staying home when at all possible, we recommend staying abreast of any developments by bookmarking the Center for Disease Control COVID-19 website, as well as checking in with your state and local health authorities for any announcements.
As a remote agency, we know a little something about the challenges of working from home, which many may be experiencing for the first time this week. As an added spin, you may be trying this for the first time while your kids are home from school or daycare. Below are some tips that we have gathered that can be applied as you navigate this uncharted territory. We hope that they might help you stay productive, creative and sane during this time that feels anything but normal.
Maintain your daily rituals
You may be accustomed to reading the news or listening to podcasts during your morning commute, and won’t have that built-in time if you’re working from your couch. Take some time each morning to continue your daily routine: Get dressed and take in your favorite media over coffee before diving into your work tasks. Even if only for 5-10 minutes, it will feel familiar and allow you to start off your day on the right foot.
Find your optimal background noise
Whether it’s the pile of laundry next to you, the eerily quiet surroundings of your home, or an added swarm of noise from kids or pets, compared to the hum and buzz of your office, it can be difficult to focus at home. There is research that shows that a workspace with music that is too loud will limit productivity and focus (especially if you can’t stop signing along). However, a certain level of low noise can increase creativity. Experiment with what works best for you—try these tools and see what level of noise helps you focus:
- focus@will — personalized music to help focus on work (1-week free trial available)
- Coffitivity — recreation of the ambient sounds of a cafe to boost your creativity (free version available)
- Spotify — search “background noise” playlists
Exercise, especially if part of your daily routine, will go a long way in helping you relieve stress and increase comfort, especially if you’re sitting in an unfamiliar and non-ergonomic chair all day. Studies have shown that daily exercise can make you more alert, while “curbing feelings of anxiety and depression. When you exercise, your brain releases serotonin that helps you feel better and improves your state of mind, making the stresses of work easier to handle,” explains this Livestrong article. With all of the uncertainty we’re bound to feel more anxious than usual, so be sure to blow off some steam, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed. If possible, go a step further and get your exercise outside--fresh air does wonders for clearing your mind and decreasing the feeling of cabin fever that is all too familiar when you work from home.
Use cloud-based tools
It’s probably inevitable when you’re trying to keep projects and tasks moving, but iterating with your team virtually will be key while working from home. Our team uses the cloud-based tool Basecamp to organize our projects and to-dos, share documents and chat throughout each day. Other popular tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams could help your group continue to work as a team, even when separated physically. GoToMeeting and Zoom are also tried and true video conferencing tools that would be worth utilizing during social distancing.
In the office, you might be used to heading over to coworker's desk to answer a question or to walk them through through how to do something on their computer. Remotely, try using free video and screen share tools like Loom and Soapbox to make quick explanation videos that your coworkers can view at their convenience.
Stay connected to your team socially
In addition to using the above tools for work tasks, be sure to maintain some semblance of camaraderie with your coworkers. Share your funny working from home adjustments, chat about your favorite show or what funny thing your kid did while you were on a conference call. It’s important that you don’t socially distance yourself into isolation—so try to continue the relationships and interactions you would have had in person at the office.
Keep your kids busy!
While this tip doesn’t apply to everyone, it may be the most important for parents who are working from home with their kids on an extended break from school or daycare. While many schools are providing distance learning material, it may take some creativity (or bribery!) to keep your children occupied so you can be productive. Check out these resources that may help:
It might not be easy, but believe it or not, you will find a “new normal.” Just be sure to keep an open mind and take this one day at a time. If you have a disastrously unproductive day, shake it off—even us WFH veterans have those days. It’s important that when that happens, you start fresh the next day with a positive attitude.
This is a unique time and no one knows how long our daily routines will be disrupted, but we’re all in this together and as a community we can get through it. If there is anything we can do to help you or your company during this difficult time, drop us a line.