Like many teams, the majority of ours is now working remotely from home to help fight the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). For most, this has been an easy transition with technology helping us stay connected to our colleagues.
For a few though, the change in environment has proven to be a challenge. We got to thinking that this might be something that many of our Members are struggling with too? So, we reached out to one of trusted partners, Teegan at Verve Design, and asked her for some tips on how her team navigates the world of working from home.
For those who don’t yet know this dynamic team, Teegan is the co-owner of Verve Design and Art Director managing the creative flow of the team who creates many of our campaign assets. Here’s what she had to say.
Moving to a remote working model four years ago was the best decision our team ever made. It opened the doors to new opportunities, simplified our processes and showed us new ways of business in the virtual world. It was better than we ever imagined and we haven't looked back!
In recent weeks, a few friends have reached out who are managing working remotely, while home-schooling their children and feeling the impacts of isolation. Most feel they’re not as productive as they had hoped they would be, with many distractions at home while trying to work, and of course all the challenges that come with being isolated during this pandemic.
Distractions are common in a workplace, however they’re a little different for those now working remotely at home. All of a sudden a co-workers distracting phone ringing loudly, has been replaced with the loud dog barking next door. Or, that unscheduled meeting pulling you away from finishing your project, is now replaced with the urge to get on top of that pile of laundry!
My answer to my friends, like any good productivity strategy, is being aware of yourself, your surroundings, and setting specific intentions on how you want to spend your time.
Practicing patience and gentleness with ourselves and our families right now is also more important than ever. These are extraordinary circumstances after all.
So here are three of my tips for working remotely, and ways to reduce some of those distractions.
Tip 1: Be more aware of your best working times
You’re now in an environment where you are your most comfortable, and most yourself - your beautiful home! Being without co-workers around you may feel really strange and lonely, and that’s a normal emotion to feel. But it’s also an opportunity for you to see how you shine working independently. During this time in isolation, you’ll likely see some amazing traits about yourself and working on your own. These might be strengths you hadn’t noticed before, that fall at certain times of the day, where you may be your most productive.
Some questions to ask yourself and take note of over the next day or so:
- Are you more creative during certain periods of the day?
- Are you more motivated or inspired at certain times?
- Have you noticed any particular times during the day when you feel you need a break to do something fun or spend time on some self care?
- What times of the day do you feel your energy deplete?
Tip 2: Set windows of time in your day that compliment your best working hours
Now that you’ve taken note of when you work best and when you need rest, if you have some flexibility with your work hours at the moment, you can create “windows” of time around these hours. I find splitting the day into three work “windows” of time works great. This really helps me in being both productive and efficient with my work, while helping to prevent being distracted! If your partner is also at home doing remote work, you could work to alternate the “windows” of time, if you’re also sharing the care for children.
Your day might look something like this:
7.00am – 11.00am - “Window” of Work 1
11.00am – 1.00pm - Break
1.00pm - 3.30pm - “Window” of Work 2
3.30pm - 4.30pm - Break
4.30pm - 7.00pm - “Window” of Work 3
Your partner’s may look like this:
11.00am – 1.00pm - “Window” of Work 1
1.00pm - 3.30pm - Break
3.30pm - 4.30pm - “Window” of Work 2
4.30pm - 7.00pm - Break
7.00pm - 9.00pm - “Window” of Work 3
For example, you could start work at 7.00am, and work your first “window” of four hours. For me, I like this window of time the best as it’s when I am most creative and I intentionally set it as the longest “window” of the day, because most of my work is creative! I know that I feel the least productive between 3.30pm - 4.30pm, so I set this time for catching up on admin type tasks and make it the smaller “window” time of the day.
When it gets to the end of your window, take a dedicated break of 30 mins - 1.5 hours and do the things that would normally distract you from your work. This might be doing some laundry, calling a friend or replying to text messages, tidying up, making lunch or doing some yoga or meditation. If you’re sharing remote work and looking after children with your partner, this could even be a beautiful time to connect back with your family and play with your children for a little bit.
Basically the free window is your time to be free to do what you please and get any non-work jobs done in this window. Then, as soon as the time comes for your “window” of work time, be vigilant, turn off any distractions (that includes notifications and pop-ups on your phone) and get back to your “window” of work.
I also create a to-do list with what I want to complete in each window. Some other remote workers I know, find checking emails at the beginning and end of the window keeps them focused on their to-do list as well.
Setting up a schedule with “windows” and break periods needs to remain the exact length of time and period each day. You also want to make sure your team know clearly when you are in “window” and “break” mode. You’re not in the office for them to see when you’re taking your breaks, so you need to be very clear and strict with your time and your routine daily and be mindful of theirs.
Tip 3: Set your surroundings up to help you during your work windows
Treat your remote working environment much like your regular work environment. Set up a dedicated space in your home purely for work, rather than your couch or dining table. Ideally in a room where you can close the door, for privacy during calls and online team meetings. Everyday, get up and follow your normal “getting ready for work” routine, including wearing what you would normally wear to work. Keep a few snacks close to your desk, a plentiful supply of water and if you’re a coffee and tea lover like me, it even helps to have a kettle or coffee machine close by. A simple walk to the kitchen can have far too many distractions in your home along the way!
These ideas are just the start of a conversation you may like to have with your employer, your team and your family at this time. Most importantly is for us to be understanding and gentle with ourselves with any distractions that come our way. We’re all doing the best we can in these new circumstances.
Stay safe and stay well!