Working from home can be a great opportunity to learn to rely on self-discipline, focus, and concentration. However, for some people working in the same place where sleeping is disorienting and might even bring a deep feeling of void. No need to pretend that it’s the same as working at the office. Different situations call for different approaches. And there are many practices that will help you to get the best out of working remotely. What a time to reinvent yourself and get a bit creative!
For us here at Tesonet, it’s a huge privilege to have that versatility that we own today. Having teams and managing some of our offices remotely, we’ve gathered experience in maintaining productivity and strong company culture despite not always being together physically. So even though there’s a number of articles covering the topic, we decided to show how we do it and share a few ideas on how to actually create a virtual environment so that employees would thrive.
Yes, You Need to Wear Pants
It’s surprisingly easy to convince yourself to stay in your pajamas when working from home. Or suddenly stop having daily showers and keep on snacking expired candies from your last birthday. So many occupational risks lurk when working from home!
- Despite the temptation to wear pajamas for the rest of the day, it’s not a sound decision. Just pick the first thing from a pile on the floor and even that will go better. No, seriously, wearing sleepwear simply doesn’t help you to get into the right frame of mind. Nor to feel like a functioning adult.
- So just choose something comfortable and designate it as your work-from-home clothes. Certainly, no need to wear your best attire.
- Make sure you have a proper lunch! Again, set time for this larger break when making a schedule in the morning. Otherwise, you’ll go through the day without eating any decent meal but a granola bar instead.
So Make a Schedule
Most of the peeps working remotely would agree that such a model is a pure temptation to lay yourself down in a horizontal position on your comfy couch and watch another episode of “Mad Men” instead of actually working. And we don’t say that such behavior itself is somehow wrong for a short scheduled break! Flexible hours are great but to reach the goals you need to set some boundaries and give your day some structure.
- Make a plan for the day ahead. Some might find helpful hour-by-hour listed tasks, others need only a few bullet points to guide them through the day. Use a notebook or list your priorities using a time management app.
- Prioritize your goals for the next day. This will give you a sense of direction.
- Set boundaries for work and your personal life. This might be helpful when your friends make calls for random chit-chats so you can ask them to call back during the lunch break or after 5 p.m. This way you won’t be distracted by Karen’s stories.
- Go on a social media diet. Yup, this needs to be done to increase your productivity however difficult it sounds. With no one peeking at your screen you might be tempted to an endless stream of content. Be brave and log out.
- Managing your energy is super important, so don’t forget to include breaks in your schedule. Go for a walk, read a magazine or award yourself with checking on that cousin on Instagram.
- Determine in advance when your workday ends. Otherwise, you’ll feel a constant necessity to check on your email until the night and the line between life and work will be blurred.
Create Your Workplace
This might be harder than it sounds. Especially, if you live with four other flatmates or have little children. Imagine a 6-year-old wearing a giant penguin costume, suddenly entering a conference call with your company’s CEO. And this is a rather cute example.
- Working on a couch is not a good solution. Try to find and set a designated place as your office-like space. It should be a quiet and convenient area where you can think, code or make calls. It doesn’t have to be a spare room – if space is especially limited, simply find a desk that will play as your sacred workspace.
- Make sure you have all the equipment you need for total success and your focused workspace (chair, noise-canceling headphones, monitor, external keyboard, etc.). This depends on whether your company provides all the work material or you need to buy it yourself. If it’s the first option, contact your office management or IT administrator and discuss what are the options. Your comfort is very important here.
- Be prepared for online calls and virtual video meetings. Make sure you have a good headset for avoiding echo during calls and a decent background.
- Ensure your home network is secure. Try to come up with less hacker-friendly passwords for your accounts (preferably set up a password manager) and educate yourself on personal cybersecurity. Start with our blog post covering the essence of the topic.
Engage With Your Team
One of the most common struggles of working from home is the feeling of isolation and loneliness. And we admit, without establishing the right communication practices with your teammates this might be really hard. Sharing goals and updates regularly will hype you up and motivate you for the day. Here at Tesonet, we’re a family that shares everything together and as most of us now are working remotely, it’s important not to lose that sense of the family.
- Practice daily stand-up meetings. Every morning each of our teams has a short stand-up call. One by one each member of the team answers 4 main questions: What’s up? What is your focus today? Where do you struggle? What help do you need? It’s super helpful for staying connected with your co-workers, keeping an efficient workflow, and making sure nobody is stepping on anyone’s virtual toes by repeating the same task.
- Don’t go invisible, make your presence felt. Set some phrases with your teams (‘Starting/ending workday’, ‘Lunchtime’, ‘Be back’) that might be effective for all. A simple “Hello” in the morning not only shows your good manners but also informs your folks that you’re no longer in bed. During the day, let your teammates know when you’re available online and involved.
- Most on-site meetings can be replaced with virtual video calls (e.g. via Google hangouts, zoom.us). If needed even recruiting interviews can be transitioned to virtual interviews.
- Find tools that strengthen your company’s culture and spreads the good vibes. For example, we introduced a new Slack channel specifically to all things working from home while keeping it fun and engaging. Our peeps can share their tips on setting iconic workstations and send pictures of their ‘new colleagues’ as cats and dogs take over their keyboards.
- Transform offline traditions into online versions. Regularly, we run Knowledge Sharing Series as an internal event when employees share their personal experience in a particular field. As a company with a huge number of employees, we aim to give access to everyone to follow the event and stream a live video.
- Virtual team building can also be an option! Have you heard of virtual film night? Virtual lunch? Online gaming championship? Remote storytelling workshops? .gif battles? It may sound unusual but this is how big remote teams stay connected.
- There’s a great number of tools for keeping your team connected and organized when working from home. One of them is Donut Slack Bot that unifies remote teams, encourages their relationships and culture by connecting colleagues together to get to know each other better.
In Exercising We Trust
When working in the office, we spend most of our time sitting at the desk, taking a coffee or smoke break in between. And then we’re back to sitting. Now, when we work from home besides the sitting part, the reality of untidiness hits us. So we rush into this noble way of procrastination (like cleaning fridges, replanting succulents, doing laundry) until we wreck our backs and necks.
- Choose the physical activity that you actually like and seize the time in your schedule for it. Here at Tesonet, we have our beloved professional in-house physiotherapist helping us out even when we’re working remotely by sending workouts to get us moving. But you can easily do it yourself. It can be yoga or pilates workout sessions (so many apps and Youtube channels available) or a nice and quiet 30 minutes walk in the fresh air.
- Already intrigued to go and try some exercises? Check out a guest blog post by Paulius Paškevičius, a Physiotherapist at Tesonet. Sweat, smile, and repeat, dears!