With the recent news of COVID-19 turning into a global pandemic, we have made the transition to working from home as a method of social distancing. According to a 2017 Gallup study, forty-three percent of Americans occasionally work from home. As of this past week, that number has significantly jumped. At Spokeo, we made the conscious decision to move our entire team to working remotely. Like many of us, you may be new to working from home. Here are some tips on how to stay productive (and sane).
Find a communication tool that will help your team stay connected. There are many different products that your team can utilize to keep in contact with each other. Without being physically present in the office, communication is key in making sure that all processes are running smoothly. At Spokeo, we have been using a variety of collaboration tools:
Zoom – To hold meetings – whether it’s one-on-ones, team meetings, or our monthly company meeting
Jira – To keep track of tasks that need to be done
Stick to a routine. While working from home, it’s important to stick to your normal workday routine. If your usual routine is to wake up, take a shower, make some coffee or tea, and change into your work outfit – don’t stop doing that just because you’re not physically going into the office. Sticking to your normal routine can help you get into work mode and stay productive. Plus, by changing into your work outfit, you’ll also be camera-ready for any video meetings you have scheduled for the day.
Set boundaries. It’s easy for the lines between work and home to be blurred, which is why it’s important to set boundaries – whether it’s for yourself or other members of your household. Resist the urge to work from your bed, and make sure that you set up your workstation in an area where you won’t get easily distracted. Remind your other household members you will be working and won’t be available between the hours of 8am and 5pm.
Find things that help you focus. Since you’re working from home, you may need a little extra help in staying focused. Make a daily to-do list, and cross off each task as you finish it. You can make this list the old-fashioned way with a pad and paper or utilize programs like Evernote. You can also listen to music but aim towards music like jazz, lo-fi, or classical, since lyrics may be distracting to some. To help keep you on schedule, you can use Google Calendar to keep track of meetings and schedule tasks that you don’t want to forget about. Another useful tip is using a timer, such as TomatoTimer, to help you keep track of your time. While working, it can be easy to get lost in your work and lose track of time.
Practice a good work/life balance and get a change of scenery. While it’s important to stay focused and not get distracted while working, it’s also essential to make sure that you take your breaks and lunches as normal and step away from your workstation when doing so. For example, take a 15-minute walk outside during your break – just make sure that you keep a safe distance from others. Take your lunch in another room, and if you’re craving some social interaction, schedule a virtual lunch meeting with a few of your teammates who have the same schedule as you. It’s important to step away from your workstation during your breaks so that you can trick your brain into thinking that while you’re at your desk, it’s time to get back into work-mode.
Stay social. If you’re not used to working remotely, it may get lonely. Just because you’re not able to catch up with your teammates face-to-face in the office, doesn’t mean that you can’t catch up with them virtually. As mentioned above, you can schedule a virtual lunch meeting with a few of your teammates so you can eat lunch together. During meetings, turn on your camera to help you get some human contact. Use one of the communication tools mentioned above to send a message to a teammate to check up on them and see how they’re doing.
Working remotely is a new transition for most people in the workforce, and together, we’ll work through this.