Working from home (WFH) isn’t a new concept, especially not for the IT industry which is arguably the most prepared for this paradigm shift in working habits.
Still for most companies offering WFH, working remotely is a short-term concept limited to a few days or weeks where employees are well aware of the fact that they will be back in the office soon (we’re not talking about those who WFH full time). Yet in light of the coronavirus scare and efforts to flatten the curve, governments and some companies are implementing WFH without a clear end date in sight. We might be facing months of going full remote so how can we adjust to the new normal?
Atlantbh is an agile tech company so we were readily able to adapt to these changes. Still, we have never experienced a fully remote situation since we value face to face contact with each other as well as our clients. Which means not only is working remotely full time a new challenge, but also team-building from a distance.
We have come up with some tips on how to stay productive, creative, safe and, most importantly, sane while entering the WFH era.
Separation of work and home
One of the hardest things to do when WFH is being able to know where work ends, and home begins. Designate a place in your home as an office and don’t let it take over your whole house! Keep it limited to a specific area or areas so that you can physically divide the one from the other and easily “walk away from work” when you are done for the day. This may be harder to do if you don’t have that much free space, but you can still designate a place which will be used strictly during work hours. Which brings us to our next point.
Maintain normal working hours. Don’t let your hours slip too much otherwise you may find yourself working all the time… or not at all. If you usually work from 9 to 5, try to keep that same schedule going. Once the workday is over, pack up your office and take back your home.
Oh and of course, take breaks. You are still working even if you are at home. Don’t feel like you need to overcompensate or prove yourself. Take regular breaks to maintain productivity, just let your colleagues know if you will be away for a little longer so they don’t start @ you.
Once you get the hang of working remotely you may become more flexible and move your office around, switch up your hours (if your company has flexible work hours) and so on. What’s most important is being able to separate work from home life. Sometimes this means making a physical divide first before your mind can easily separate the two.
Choose the right tools
Just because you aren’t in the office, doesn’t mean you are expected to work with less. It is important to try and ensure you have access to all the necessary tools to maintain business as usual (as much as possible).
At Atlantbh, not only do all of our Atlanters have laptops but we also provided them with the option to take their monitors, iMacs and even ergonomic chairs home.
Ensure your teams have access to video apps for daily and weekly meetings, but also for quick chats and brainstorming sessions. There are so many options, from traditional Skype to Slack, Google Meet, MS Teams, Zoom and even virtual reality hangouts for the more adventurous. Don’t be a hermit, virtual face to face is still an option.
If you haven’t already, take your boards online so the entire team can keep track of tasks. We use apps like Jira and Trello so our teams are always on top of deadlines, no matter where they are.
Adapt work habits to ensure business as usual
Re-evaluate the way you work. Current processes may not work so well for WFH mode so don’t get stuck in old ways. Try to innovate and find new ways of staying connected with your team and clients.
At this point in time, there is no such thing as too much communication. Make sure to keep track of your clients’ needs and try to have more video calls with them too. It’s crucial to ensure everyone is on the same page so overcommunicate if you have to.
Stay mentally fit
Times like these can be really stressful and adjusting to a new norm can be tough. Make sure to take care of yourself and practice Self Care-antine. Mental health is very important so talk to your team if you are feeling down and need to take a breather – and don’t forget to ask them how they are holding up. Everyone needs to feel supported, especially when you spend longer periods of time away from others.
To deal with stress, anxiety or even to cope with personal tragedy, try to clear your mind by doing something new. Isolation can get boring fast so why not keep your brain engaged. Read a new book (old is gold), play a brain game, complete a puzzle, or sign up for online courses and webinars. You can also check out new podcasts or even create Spotify playlists with your friends. By taking on a new challenge or trying something new, you can distract yourself from the current affairs and escape for a bit.
Sometimes, you also just need to slow down. Grab a coloring book (don’t pretend like they aren’t amazing, take a bath, organize your closet/kitchen/something, meditate, paint or do crafts, call family and friends, bake or even keep a journal.
Stay physically fit
Ok, simmer down, staying physically fit can come in many forms. First and foremost, remember to eat and sleep regularly. Don’t binge on the food you stockpiled (you know who you are) or down a whole bag of chips because nobody is looking. Maintain a healthy diet which takes into consideration a slower pace. Also maintain your normal sleep schedule. Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you should stay up late watching the latest Netflix documentary.
Exercise may be tough when you are stuck indoors but with are so many YouTube exercise videos or workout apps, the gym can come to you. Try to stretch daily and maybe even take up Yoga. If you are having a hard time committing, get a group of friends or colleagues involved so you guy can motivate each other and set daily group goals. Hey, you can even make it a task to ensure the entire team is staying fit.
Most important of all is to maintain a positive attitude! Don’t panic and don’t freak out. Ask for help if you need it, talk to others about how you are feeling and stay in touch with family and friends. If you are lucky enough, stay home as much as possible to do your part in flattening the curve and fighting the coronavirus. These are stressful times for everyone but together we will be able to adjust to this new normal.