Times are uncertain right now, but it’s clear that people who can work remotely will be working from home for weeks, perhaps even months. If you’re new to the remote workforce, you may be facing challenges that go beyond the technical issues. How do you collaborate with colleagues when you’re not in the same location? And with everything so unsettled, how do you stay focused and inspired?
Our creative shop is lucky, as we already work remotely, having a remote team that stretches from Berlin to San Francisco. So here are my four quick tips for you.
1. Aim to separate work from home, even when your work is temporarily taking over your living room. Working from home shouldn’t make you feel like you’re constantly at work. A few things you can do:
Set up a special work area where you feel like you’re really at work. Ideally, you can make this an inspiring workspace that is separate from the rest of your living space.
Get dressed for work. I’m keen on comfort, so I love to work in sweatshirts and comfy pants, but it can help you feel more like you’re “at work” if you dress like you’re headed to the office. Our PM Brandon was recently wearing a suit on a video call, and he looked sharp!
Set up a schedule so you’re not working around the clock. (Also make sure people know your availability, since they can no longer see if you are at your desk, have just stepped away, or have signed out for the night.) Not having a clear schedule is a recipe for burnout. Only check work email and notifications during your work schedule, and remember to take breaks.
2. Take advantage of this extra time at home. You’re at home—so make the most of it during your breaks! A few things you can do:
Indulge in hobbies that you may not want or be able to indulge in at work. During my lunch break, I may sketch (after all, I have all my drawing supplies within easy reach!), read a fantasy novel (without any comments from anyone on what I’m reading, thank you very much), or garden.
Do quick household tasks, like doing a load of laundry, washing a few dishes, or making sourdough. I love to make sourdough while working, as it forces me to briefly unchain myself from my computer every 30 minutes while I go through Chad Robertson’s fold-then-rest process for a few hours—and I am definitely not alone.
Enjoy a bit of cuddle time with your pets. If you can head outside for a walk with your dog, go for it. (If you’re a dog owner who isn’t able to go outside, check out this New York Times’ primer for helping dogs through a quarantine.)
3. Set up collaboration and communication processes. Collaboration amplifies a team’s abilities and helps create great results, but it can definitely be more difficult to communicate and collaborate when everyone is in different locations.
A few things you can do:
Set up remote collaboration processes, figuring out when and how to connect on projects. Your organization may need additional project management and communication tools. You’ll also need to make sure everyone is at the virtual table when they need to be. (If you’re managing a team remotely, check out our CEO Gina Michnowicz talking about remote leadership best practices on The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher.)
Set up a standing online collaboration meeting with your team to talk through specific projects or have a more general brainstorm session. It’s more difficult to have organic collaborative moments when working remotely, so this is a good way to make sure people are still working together to create the best results.
Give yourself more time on projects, especially when you’re first working through these issues.
4. Unwind. It’s natural to feel stressed during these unsettled times, so it’s more important than ever to seek out things that make you relax and laugh. If you’re anxious, it will be hard to focus and get inspired.
A few things you can do:
Meditate or do yoga. Your local meditation centers and yoga studios may be closed, but there are apps like Calm (our CEO is a fan) and plenty of yoga teachers on YouTube. One of my favorite yoga YouTube channels is Yoga with Adriene. She has about a billion yoga videos—many suitable for beginners, if you happen to be a new yogi—and even has a ”meditation for anxiety” video.
Take a virtual dance class. Dance is great for both your mental and physical health. Just because you can’t get to a dance studio or club doesn’t mean you can’t get your groove on. A lot of studios and dance teachers are live-streaming dance classes.
Ingest content that makes you feel good. During a break, you might feel like catching up on the news. I’m all for staying up to date, but with lots of bad news headlines, it may be better to actively seek content that makes you feel good. It could be listening to a favorite podcast (Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, anyone?), reading a great cooking blog like David Liebowitz’s, enjoying Go Fug Yourself’s witty takes on celebrity fashion hits and misses...really, whatever floats your boat.
Stay connected with your family, friends, and colleagues. You may not be able to see these people in the flesh, but it’s important to still make time to check in. I added “colleagues” to this list because when you get busy, you may forget to catch up with the people you work with. A bit of connection can go a long way in making work more enjoyable.
If you’re having problems working from home, I hope this list helped. At the very least, know that you are not alone. We’re all going to get through this together.