Our UK alliance partner, Totum Partners, published an article in March 2020 with some tips about working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic.
This is not any ordinary working from home experience and it does present a whole different set of challenges. Some people will have previous experience working from home one or two days a week and will have enjoyed it. For others, this will be an entirely new, and perhaps unwelcome, work experience.
Work from home set ups are not equal and the challenges vary:
- Some enjoy larger houses further out from the city versus the smaller spaces in CBD apartments and studios
- Living on your own versus with flatmates or with children and/or parents
At Seldon Rosser, we’re facing the same challenges. While it was a bigger adjustment for some, we all adapted quickly and have now settled into our rhythm of working from home. We have never communicated more as a whole team – twice daily Zoom meetings. We are focused on keeping the lines of communication well and truly open – with each other, as well as with you, our clients, candidates and all those we work with.
Much of Totum’s advice on thriving in this work from home environment resonated with us here in the Asia-Pacific. We’ve shared some of their tips and also added some of our own.
So what are our tips for adapting to this new reality?
1. Invest time and energy in your home office/desk set up
- If you haven’t set up your workspace at home already, this is a priority. Working from a sofa may feel like a comfort but establishing a work routine in a structured work space will help to focus your mind on the job at hand (and enable you to walk away and relax when you’re finished).
- Try to position your desk away from where you sleep, so you can switch off at the end of the day.
- We appreciate it’s much easier for those with a home office / spare room than in a studio / flat-share. But whatever your home environment, come up with the best solution possible. If you don’t already have an appropriate desk, there are some great space saving sitting/standing desk products out there designed quickly for this ‘new normal’. Get in contact with Nanik or Nick if you need tips on where to find these.
- Make your space somewhere you genuinely want to be – perhaps add a diffuser, a photo or flowers.
2. Get your technology set-up
- Microsoft Teams? Zoom? Skype? Several weeks in, I’m sure everyone is familiar with these tools now but have you made sure, within the limits of your home space, that you have the best set up for video meetings? Check out our 10 tips for How to Succeed at a Remote Job Interview – much of it is relevant for presenting yourself well in any video call.
3. Simulate the benefits from a daily commute
- There are definite pros but also some cons of losing the daily commute. For a focused work day, it’s important to prepare your mind and body before getting up and rolling straight into your workspace. Let’s be honest – no one ever delivered their best work in their pyjamas.
- Many people in our network are going for a morning walk (perhaps to get a coffee), doing a morning workout or meditation, or sitting with a cuppa listening to a podcast. This will help you separate your work self from home self – and also help to start the day with a positive mindset.
- It’s also important to put the same structure around the end of your work day, enabling you to switch off and relax.
4. Manage your work day in ‘sprints’
- If you are really struggling to find focus, try to organise your work into small chunks of time. ‘Sprints’ is the terminology that comes from the agile work model. Allocate yourself deadlines for completing tasks and try to make the time as strict as possible (whilst being realistic) to give yourself a target.
- Stay focused and don’t allow yourself to get distracted or waiver until you’ve finished the set of activities in your sprint. Then you can reward yourself with a small break. When working from home, you need to be even more wary of distraction.
- If you really can’t get your brain in gear, try to tick off some really easy wins on your to-do list – the things that take five minutes still earn a tick and they can help get the brain engaged for bigger tasks.
- The “eat the frog” model of doing your largest / most important / least favourite project/task first in the day is all the more motivating when working from home and having to self-start.
5. Use your phone/video chat
- It’s so easy to communicate by e-mail or message but make an effort to pick up the phone a little more right now. Hearing a colleague’s friendly voice down the line can do wonders to lift the spirits and get you back on track.
- Remember also to check in on colleagues just to say ‘hello’ – don’t allow an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality to creep up on you.
6. Be kind to yourself and give yourself regular breaks
- And don’t use your breaks just to catch up on news either! A few minutes to read a good book, call a friend, play the piano or get a stew in the slow cooker for dinner can be hugely restorative. Just be careful of getting distracted for too long. Set a time when you have to be back at your desk.
- It’s worth saying again, don’t catch up on the coronavirus news in every break – this won’t do your focus on your work or your mental health any good.
7. Ensure you’re factoring time into your day/week to get exercise
- This is extremely important for your mental wellbeing. Go for a walk or run (whilst adhering to all the social distancing rules where you’re based), do that online workout, get out your old weights, try some yoga. Lots of gyms and fitness trainers are offering online classes. Take advantage of them.
8. And if you have kids at home? Good luck….
- Yes, your life just now is doubly complicated. The experience is different in every location. Here in Australia, new school terms have recently started with many schools distributing home-learning packs for the next few weeks – something you’re expected to monitor whilst also managing childcare 24/7.
- Some of us as Seldon Rosser (Katie & Fran) are also managing this juggle, with a mix of school-age and pre-school children, and so are always happy to both receive and share tips for making it work!
- Fitting this around your work schedule is far from easy but try to set a timetable for the week in advance and stick to it as best you can.
- Remember, perfect is the enemy of good – so also forgive yourself if a few things don’t quite work out the way you hoped.
Looking after yourself, and keeping positive, will be every bit as important as sorting the practicalities of your home working day. Professional services marketers are a resilient bunch and we’re constantly inspired and impressed by how our community is coping. That said, there will be days when you feel anxious and overwhelmed (it is entirely normal in this season) – on those days, remember you’re not alone. No matter where our desks are currently located, we’re all in this together.